History of the United States Grand Prix – Page Two
Due to WWI producing a lack of European entries, the series was discontinued. Between the wars, racing in the U.S. was almost exclusively on ovals. Even though Formula One started in 1950, none were held in the U.S until Alex Ulmann promoted the first post-war U.S.G.P. at Sebring on December 12, 1959. Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper when his team-mate, Jack Brabham ran out of fuel.
An interesting footnote is that both the 1958 and 1959 USAC Times-Mirror sports car races at Riverside were billed as “The United States Grand Prix.” I particularly remember the 1959 because I entered my Devin SS for Andy Porterfield to drive. I watched the race at a spot just before Turn One, a fast left-hander. I marked the spots where each driver would shut off. Everyone shut off at a slightly different point except Stirling Moss who took it flat out!
In 1960, Ulmann moved the U.S.G.P. to Riverside where Stirling Moss won. Then it found a home at Watkins Glen, where it was held through 1980. In 1976, the Long Beach Grand Prix was added to the Formula One calendar giving the U.S. two World Championship events: East and West. Starting in 1980, Formula Ones were held at various U.S. venues. From 2000 through 2007, they took place at Indianapolis on an inland road course utilizing part of the oval.
After that and with a lot of starts and stops, Formula One honcho Bernie Ecclestone tried to arrange further United States Grands Prix. Finally, in 2010, he awarded a ten-year contract to Austin, Texas with the first scheduled to take place November 2012 on a new 3.4-mile purpose-built course named the Circuit of the Americas. The race will be called the United States Grand Prix. In addition, another Formula One race–the Grand Prix of America–is scheduled to be held June 2013 on a 3.2-mile street circuit along the Weehawken (NJ) Port Imperial.
Special Note: I would like to thank my friend, Tim Considine for his help with this column and for his wonderful book, American Grand Prix Racing (MBI Publishing Co., 1997). In addition, thanks are due to another friend, Harold Osmer for his book, Real Road Racing, The Santa Monica Road Races (Harold L. Osmer Publishing, 1999). Both books are highly recommended for those who wish to delve more deeply into the subject.