A Brief History of Formula 1 Racing In the USA

A Brief History of Formula 1 Racing In the USA

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God made man; man made the automobile. After God had made man, He rested on the seventh day. How God rested is uncertain, but man rests by watching auto races on the seventh day. The first organized auto race took place on April 28, 1887. Georges Bouton, a French engineer, won it with a top speed of 37 mph. The race, 1.2 miles long, was not close as no competitors showed up.


Fifty-nine years later, on May 13, 1950, the first of seven Formula 1 races was held in Silverstone, England to determine the World Championship driver. Seventeen days later, on May 30, 1950, the Indianapolis 500 became the first Formula 1 race on American soil and the third race of the World Championship series in 1950. Only American drivers and constructors participated in the first Formula 1 race held in the United Sates.


Johnnie Parsons, an American from Los Angeles, California won the Indianapolis 500 after 138 laps. Parsons is one of three drivers who have been able to win their first Formula 1 race. The race, originally scheduled for 200 laps, was cut short because of rain. Johnnie Parsons ranked 6 in the final standing of the 1950s World Championship, just ahead of another American named Bill Holland. Parson’s first name of Johnnie is the only name misspelled on the Borg-Warner Trophy.


hgruber indy 2007 f1

US Grand Prix in Indianapolis, 2007 by HGruber

Personalities that have captivated American Formula 1 fans include Mario Gabriele Andretti, Michael Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, and Phil Hill. Mario Andretti ranks 22 in Formula 1 drivers with 12 wins. Andretti drove his first full Formula 1 season in 1975, and he is the last American to have won a Formula 1 race. Dan Gurney ties for 50th place in the F1 rankings. He was the first man to use a full face helmet in Grand Prix racing. After Gurney had retired from racing, he developed the Gurney Flap, a performance enhancer that helped the aerodynamics of the racing cars used by Bobbie Unser. Phil Hill is the only American-born driver to win a Formula 1 Driving Championship.


The United States has hosted F1 races in Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Las Vegas, Nevada; Long Beach California; Watkins Glen, New York; Riverside, California; Sebring, Florida; and Speedway, Indiana. On July 12, 2007 the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IMS, announced that the 2007 United States Grand Prix F1 would be the last at the IMS due to financial reasons. Because of the lack of a sponsor the United States Grand Prix Formula 1 race did not make it to the calendar in 2009. In that year Bernie Ecclestone, Formula 1 President, announced there were no plans for returning Formula 1 racing to the United States.


A scene from the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2003

A scene from the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2003


Ecclestone also vowed it would never return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, in 2010, Ecclestone and event promoter Full Throttle Productions struck an agreement. On November 18, 2012, a new location in the United States will host a Formula 1 race: Austin, Texas. If you’re looking for accommodation, Austin has many vintage villas or vacation homes that can be rented. Many of these Texas villas display old world charm and serve customized cuisine. Why not try a trip to the Austin, Texas Grand Prix as part of a different and unusual holidays experience?

Do you have favorite memories from previous US F1 races? Share them in the comments below, or via our Facebook, Twitter, or Google + pages!

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