Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
United States Grand Prix
The United States Grand Prix is a motor racing event which has taken place at various times since 1959 in several locations, at first as a part of the American Grand Prize series and later as a race in the Formula One World Championship.
In the early days of Formula One, the Indianapolis 500 was considered an F1 championship event. However, except for Alberto Ascari in 1952, no regular F1 drivers appeared at these races. Not until seven years later would an official Formula One event be held in the States, bringing out the top drivers in the sport.
American Grand Prize
Russian-born Alec Ulmann organized the first F1 American Grand Prix on the road course at Sebring, Florida in December, 1959 as the last race of the season. The starting grid included seven American drivers, but New Zealand's Bruce McLaren, in a Cooper, took his first win in F1 and became the youngest driver ever to win a Grand Prix, up to that time. McLaren took the lead on the last lap of the race when his teammate, Jack Brabham, ran out of fuel. Brabham had to push his car over the line to finish fourth and clinch his and the team's first World Championships. Despite providing an exciting climax to the season, the race wasn't successful from the hosts' standpoint, and the promoters just about broke even.
Ulmann moved the race to the Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, California in 1960 where Stirling Moss put on quite a show in his privately-entered Lotus by winning from the pole. Yet, while the driver's purse was enormous (as at Sebring), the event was received no better than the previous year's.
In 1961, however, when Cameron Argetsinger was asked to host the race in Watkins Glen, New York, where international road racing was well established, the third time was indeed the charm, as F1 found the United States Grand Prix's home at The Glen. Over the next 20 years, the event became a cherished tradition among the fans as loyal crowds gathered each year on the wooded hills of upstate New York. It was one of the season's most popular events with the teams and drivers as well, receiving the Grand Prix Drivers' Association award for the best organized and best staged GP of the season in 1965, 1970 and 1972.
See Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The Vegas course left the schedule after just two seasons, and there were plans for a New York Grand Prix in 1983 to replace it, but this was cancelled unexpectedly in mid-year. Long Beach left the schedule after that year, and the Detroit course was joined in 1984 by a course in Dallas' Fair Park. When that event failed, the U.S. had only the Detroit circuit remaining on the schedule. 5 years later, F1 left Detroit and again headed west to a Phoenix street course. This lasted 3 years without much success and when it left in 1991, there was no replacement. Mika Häkkinen had a severe accident the year the Formula One last set foot in Phoenix.
It was not until 2000 that another United States Grand Prix took place, this time at legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2.606-mile infield road course uses approximately one mile of the storied oval, but in a clockwise direction. This is distinctly different from most United States motor racing, which is run counterclockwise. The crowd at the 2000 race was estimated at over 225,000, perhaps the largest ever in F1. Michael Schumacher's win was his second of four straight to end the season as he overtook Mika Häkkinen for his third Championship. In 2001, the race went off less than three weeks after 9/11, and many teams and drivers featured special tributes to the US on their cars and helmets. Held in September its first four years, the USGP at Indianapolis was moved to an early summer date in 2004.
Winners of the United States Grands Prix
Formula One races are indicated with a yellow background.
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