THE BEST U.S. GRANDS PRIX
In its 56 points-counting apperances in
the USA, F1 has rarely
enjoyed more than a
brief dalliance with
any given venue.
Watkins Glen, N. Y.,
first hosted the USGP
in 1961 (ABOVE) and
went on to hold it
20 times, until 1980.
Long Beach and
Speedway each held
eight GPs, with Detroit’s
bumpy streets playing
host to seven, and the
USGP’s current home,
Circuit of The Americas,
up to six this year.
But one-offs such
as Dallas (’ 84, BELOW),
Sebring (’ 59) and
Riverside (’60), or
Palace (see page 106)
keep the average down.
The first of the 56 ended on foot – with a
motorcycle escort! – having begun with
an argument on the grid that saw one of
three title contenders at this December
showdown, Tony Brooks, relegated to the
second row. It was a switch that had
serious ramifications when he was
rammed by a Ferrari teammate on the
opening lap. After two heavy accidents,
Brooks, the outsider, had promised
himself never to race a compromised car
and so he pitted to check all was still well.
Risk-taker Stirling Moss would never
have done such a thing. He needed to win
and set fastest lap – this was the last GP
for which the latter achievement was
deemed worthy of a point – to end a
four-season sequence of being world
championship runner-up. His gamble
in switching from transverse leaf- to
coil-spring rear suspension looked likely
to pay off when his privateer Cooper
burst into a sudden and steadily
increasing lead from pole position.
But after five laps its gearbox failed.
Only now did Jack Brabham’s weekend
begin to settle down. He’d arrived nursing
a sore eye caused by splintering goggles
at his previous race and was
uncharacteristically flustered during
practice, crashing twice. His team was
floundering, too: overheating engine,
broken differential, twisted chassis,
juddering brakes, cracked mainshaft. A
typical Aussie battler, only at a doctor’s
insistence had “Black Jack” retired to bed
at 1am on race day. Leading, and
therefore heading for the title – with
teammate Bruce McLaren riding shotgun
– was a breeze in comparison.
But with a mile to go, his Climax “four”
stammered, coughed, died – out of fuel.
McLaren, unsure of the etiquette, drew
alongside and only after much
encouraging gesticulation from Brabham
did the 22-year-old New Zealander
accelerate away to become the then
youngest winner of a GP – albeit less than
a second ahead of Maurice Trintignant,
Moss’s Rob Walker Racing teammate.
Brabham, meanwhile, set to pushing,
the final incline of 100 yards draining him.
But outside help would have caused
disqualification. Brooks passed him for
third, but fourth was still good enough
for the title. By way of “celebration” the
glassy-eyed new world champion drained a
cup of Coke while slumped on the floor.
McLaren’s 1959 win in Sebring (ABOVE)
was the first of just four grand prix
victories for the New Zealander before
his death in a Can-Am testing crash in
1970. Yet his F1 legacy is huge, thanks
to the eponymous race team he founded.
BRUCE IS THE BOSS
After fraught practice
days, the ’ 59 USGP
started well for Jack
The Aussie had to
push his car home,
yet still took the