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Share Your Formula One United States Grand Prix Memories

Jim Yu November 13, 2012 Formula 1 20 Comments

They beat me to it. While away from my computer this weekend at a wedding reception, I came up with the idea of a piece on all the former USGP venues. This would be a great way to segue into this weekend’s race in Austin. But alas, the official Formula One website and F1Fanatic beat me by a day and came out with their own, excellent, summaries.

For you kids playing at home, we have hosted F1 races at the following circuits:

  • Indianapolis (1950-60, 2000-07)
  • Sebring (1959)
  • Riverside (1960)
  • Watkins Glen (1961-80)
  • Long Beach (1976-83)
  • Las Vegas (1981-82)
  • Detroit (1982-88)
  • Dallas (1984)
  • Phoenix (1989-91)

So what are your memories?  Watching the greats at Watkins Glen? Sitting in a Las Vegas casino parking lot? The tire debacle at Indy?

And for you BBQ aficionados going to the Austin race, a friend shared the definitive BBQ eatery list with me.

Finally, if you want to see the Sunday race from a fellow Hoon’s perspective, follow me on Twitter.

Image source: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Jim Yu

  • don fehlio

    F1 is sort of a new fascination for me, so I'd have to say this is my best memory. Combine Nascar's waning popularity, the continued improvement of American cars and both driver and fan excitement for the Austin race, and I'm glad to see the U.S. finally becoming a more active and respected part of the worldwide motorsports community. I plan to make pancakes and finally watch the race as live as Speed allows.

    Also pretty cool that Vettel's first race was in the US in 2007, and this weekend is his 100th.

  • MVEilenstein

    I wasn't too much of a F1 fan in 2005, but I do remember reading about, and wondering why the cars were going the wrong way around. Since then, I've become a huge fan of the sport, and am really looking forward to this weekend.

  • I went to the USGP in 2000 at Indy. Flew up from Atlanta with a good friend of mine. We flew in Ft. Wayne, IN (NorthWorst had cheap tickets) and visited the ACD museum in Auburn, IN on the first day. Then took our rented Ford Ranger down to our hotel in Bloomington, had to get that far out of Indy to find a cheap hotel room. I had been to Indy for 500 qualifying in 1994, so I was a little familiar with the track and what to expect. We showed up for practice on Friday. I was not prepared for 18,000+ rpm of unmuffled engine in the valley between the grandstands on the front straight. The sound was unbelievable! There was more than one guy holding his cell phone up to the track to share with a friend back home. Qualifying was almost more exciting than the actual race. Friday and Saturday all seating was general admission. We had seats on the front stretch infield grand stands above pit road. Overall a great experience.

    • hwyengr

      I was also at the inaugural Indy USGP. I was going to school in Champaign at the time, so it was a quick hop over. For some reason, we stayed up all night beforehand. As such, most of my memories now are fairly faded.

      I do recall:
      1. It was cold. And I think I was wearing short sleeves with no jacket.
      2. Despite sitting on the front stretch, we didn't see any cars for more than a split second since they ran so close to the wall, and being F1, single file.
      3. It. Was. Loud. Painfully so. But despite not being able to see the cars, we could always tell when it was the McLaren-Mercedes passing by, since their exhaust was almost an octave higher than everyone else.
      4. Hakkinen was making an incredible run up the order, a couple of seconds every lap, until he crashed. Since I hated Schumacher at the time, I actually wanted to leave as soon as Hakkinen was out.

      • I seem to remember cold and rain or threat of rain too. I was on the inside of the front straight, so I got to see the cars, briefly. I could see some of turn one with binoculars too.

  • JayP2112

    Count me as one who's surprised this thing is gonna happen at all. Just months ago that venue was a dirt path.
    So Damn!

    My son and I visited the Science Museum at Fair Park a while ago. Took that opportunity to try to retrace the F1 circuit.
    We had just seen Senna at the Angelica in Dallas so the kid was all excited to see where he had raced once.

  • Number_Six

    Fellow Belfastard John Watson starting 17th and 22nd in 1982 and 1983 at Long Beach and taking the win both years in the McLaren. The 1983 race in particular was fantastic because of the great battle he had with Niki Lauda. However, I was never a fan of the Long Beach track or Indy.

    <img src="http://b.f1-facts.com/ul/a/3903&quot; width="500" />

  • If you don't mind lines (seriously, going to the F1 race, you are going to be tired of lines) you should get up early and hit up Franklins.

    Also, Rudy's is surprisingly good for what it is. Absolutely go to Lockhart. They know what they are doing down there.

  • shutterspeed1

    Went in '05. Saved my pennies (college soph. that summer), left in the middle of the night to catch the race with our Sunday-only tickets. Total confusion as all but six cars drove into the pits (no twitter or facebook then). Wouldn't trade the experience for anything, despite being pretty pissed at the time.

    Leaving for Austin Thursday, ready to right that wrong.

    • MVEilenstein

      Would you be willing to do a writeup? I bet we'd all love to hear about the experience.

      • shutterspeed1

        I was thinking about doing that, and I've had a bit of time to kill today so here's part 1: my past with the sport and the experience in 05 here: http://shutterspeed1.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/rig

        Camera will be in tow, I'll do a summary of the weekend sometime next week.

        • MVEilenstein

          Awesome. Looking forward to reading it. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  • skitter

    I was at Indianapolis in '06 and '07. During one of those years, the rules required the cars in final qualifying to run with the same amount of fuel they would have at the start of the race, so all the teams had a fuel-burn map to shoot it all through the engine and get the car down to qualifying weight. But it did take some time to empty the tank that way, so it was important to be on the track as soon as the session started. I was in the grandstand, and all ten cars crowded together at the pit exit, far closer than the starting grid, then did a full launch-control start when the light went green. The noise echoing through the canyon of bleachers might be the most incredible sound I ever hear.

  • rennsport964

    Highlight: Mark Webber(?) in the Jaguar F1 taking out the Styrofoam distance marker after start/finish, right in front of the stands, perhaps 2002.
    Lowlight: Watching all the Michelin shod cars boycott the race in 2005.

    I will be in Austin this weekend. Come by and say hi at Turn 12.

  • Donyas

    I watched F1 at Watkins Glen from 1969 to 1980. Low point- Cevert crash. High point- Villeneuve in the rain.

    When F1 left the Glen, I left F1.

  • dr zero

    I used to kick arse on the Detroit circuit playing Grand Prix Circuit as a youngster. Other than that, I'm not a fan as North American races are held at times that aren't conducive to going to work the next day (in Australia at least).

  • apfeifer3

    I went every year F1 was in Indy, before that I had only been to circle track racing, now? I'm studying Mechanical Engineering with a goal of working in motorsports. Every race was its own great experience. I didn't think the tire debacle was a complete race killer. The part of the crowd that stayed got to enjoy the fastest road course cars on earth scream around IMS, a great experience 6 cars or 20.

    • I hope you are on a FSAE team if you want to work in motorsports. I know of 3 or 4 FSAE alums from my school working in motorsports. It is a VERY tough career path though.

      • skitter

        Seconded. It might be the single most important thing you can do if motorsports is your goal.

  • Paul Huber

    Just found this web site – interesting. I've been an F1 fan since I attended the first race at Watkins Glen in 1961, my first year in college. That's right, I'm an old guy. I have been to 37 GPs all told: 29 in the US, three in Canada (Mosport and Montreal) and five in Europe. 2012 was the year for #1 on my Bucket List – Monaco. There's not enough time or space here to recount all my memories. If the site stays active I'll add some. I took my grown son to several Indy USGPs as well as Barcelona (2004), Silverstone (2009) and Monaco. I went alone to Monza and Spa in 2007. I'm not rich, and my wife is ANTI- any sport but UK Basketball, but she is a semi-willing enabler who's allowed me to feed my fantasy (which she calls an obsession). I have dozens of books and hats and other memorabilia in my man-cave, and an almost complete collection of Driver and Constructor World Champion diecast cars (lacking four) from 1950. More to follow on an irregular schedule.