USA: Circuits

To begin with, let’s cover the circuits as racing isn’t much good without one. Despite being held in Austin, Texas at the moment, the ‘United States Grand Prix’ has been held on six different circuits while the United States West Grand Prix, Detroit Grand Prix and Caesars Palace Grand Prix have all been held within America.

Sebring

The first circuit to host a Formula One US Grand Prix was that of Sebring which held the event in 1959. Pole position was claimed by Stirling Moss, but the race was eventually won by Bruce McLaren, driving a Cooper-Climax.

Riverside

The Grand Prix moved venue for 1960, heading to Riverside, California where once again Stirling Moss claimed pole position, This time he also claimed victory driving a Lotus-Climax, finishing ahead of teammate Innes Ireland and the 1959 US Grand Prix winner, Bruce McLaren.

Watkins Glen

In 1961 the race was staged at a different circuit once again, this time at Watkins Glen which Formula One soon made the home of the US Grand Prix until 1980. The most successful drivers at the circuit during this period were Jim Clark and Graham Hill who both won three times. The most successful team was Lotus who won at the circuit seven times, the last coming in 1973 with Swede Ronnie Peterson behind the wheel.

Long Beach

Another circuit Formula One has visited is the famous Long Beach circuit which was used from 1976 to 1983. It however held the United States West Grand Prix and has never hosted an outright US Grand Prix in Formula One. The most successful team on the track was Ferrari, having won at the circuit three times. Numerous drivers have won the event, including America’s own Mario Andretti who won in 1977 with Lotus.

The last race held here in 1983 is memorable as McLaren drivers Niki Lauda and John Watson made a charge through the field, having qualified twenty second and twenty third, to claim a one-two finish.

Las Vegas

Known as the Caesars Palace Grand Prix, many saw it fit that Formula One should visit Las Vegas. It finally did from 1981 to 1982 as the event was held on a temporary track that was actually a car park. The 1981 edition hosted the title finale between Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann in an eventful race.

Alan Jones won the 1981 edition, for Williams with Michele Alboreto winning the 1982 edition for Tyrrell. Due to the heat and its unpopularity with drivers, the race was soon dropped from the calendar.

Detroit

From 1982-1988 Formula One raced around the streets of Detroit in what was officially titled the Detroit Grand Prix. The most successful teams around the streets were Lotus and McLaren who both won the event twice. The most successful driver was Ayrton Senna who won the event three times.

Other teams to have won include Tyrrell, Brabham and Williams. Other drivers include John Watson, who won the very first race, Michele Alboreto, Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg.

Phoenix

The official ‘United States Grand Prix’ which hadn’t been held since 1980 returned in 1989 at Phoenix which held the event until 1991. As the race was held when McLaren was dominating the sport, all three races held in Phoenix were won by McLaren, two by Ayrton Senna and one by Alain Prost. Although it was also the scene of an impressive display by Jean Alesi driving for Tyrrell in 1990.

Indianapolis

Formula One has had the Indianapolis Speedway on the calendar twice, in the 1950’s and in the 2000’s. During the 1950’s, and in 1960 it was the actual Indianapolis 500 that featured on the racing calendar, which not many European based teams or drivers actually competed in. The only driver and team to compete in the Indy 500 during this time was Italian, Alberto Ascari with Ferrari in 1952. Although it gained a lot of media attention, the actual race wasn’t successful for Ascari and Ferrari as they retired on lap 40.

The second time Formula One visited the venue was from 2000 to 2007 but didn’t use the full oval, instead opting to use a modified version of the road course that has recently been used by IndyCar and MotoGP.

The circuit witnessed one of the closest finishes in Formula One as Rubens Barrichello beat team mate Michael Schumacher to the line by 0.011 seconds in 2002. The venue has also witnessed one of the most controversial races in the sports history as only six cars competed in the 2005 edition.

The last race held here was in 2007 which current reigning champion, Lewis Hamilton won.

Overall the 2000’s period was dominated by Michael Schumacher who won five times. The only other winners were Mika Hakkinen in 2001, Rubens Barrichello in 2002 and Lewis Hamilton in 2007.

Austin

The current venue of the US Grand Prix is in Austin, Texas which held its first race in 2012 which was won by Lewis Hamilton. He is the most successful driver to date at the circuit, having won twice. McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes are the current teams to have won at the circuit.

Copyright Dave Wilson
“Valtteri Bottas in the CoTA S-Curves” by Dave Wilson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Epilogue

There have been numerous Grand Prix that have been held in America over the years, at one time there being three Grand Prix’s held in the country in one year, that being 1982.

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