RANKED: USA CIRCUITS USED FOR A GRAND PRIX

1y ago

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10) PHOENIX (1989 - 1991)

There are some seriously bad circuits on this list, so to finish 10th is almost somewhat of an achievement. To put it very bluntly, there was nothing to like about this street circuit: most of its corners were right angles, it was incredibly demanding for the drivers and it instigated little interest within the city. Famously, an ostrich race attracted more people than the 1991 Grand Prix did. Thankfully it didn't return thereafter.

9) CAESARS PALACE (1981-82)

They turned a car park into an F1 Grand Prix. Yeah, it went as good as could be expected. The circuit was horrible to drive on, John Watson once referred to it as "a racetrack made up of canyons of concrete" which is pretty accurate. Due to the Las Vegas heat, many drivers had trouble racing for two hours straight, it's said that 1981 race winner Nelson Piquet vomited during the race which is a lovely thought. As for the circuit itself, it was uninspiring, dull and cramped. Moral of the story? Car parks don't make good circuits.

8) DALLAS (1984)

The city of Dallas held one Grand Prix, which is about one too many. This is another temporary street circuit that quite simply couldn't handle the F1 cars of the 80s. Emergency repair work on the circuit continued right up until the start of the race, some drivers including Lauda and Prost wanted to boycott it. As it happened, the race went ahead and just 8 of the 26 drivers saw the chequered flag. Not a success.

7) RIVERSIDE (1960)

Unlike the exciting championship finale from one year previous, the 1960 US Grand Prix held at Riverside failed to provide much of a spark. Enzo Ferrari decided he would not enter his team in the race, it ended up being a financial disaster and attendance figures were projected at a measly 7,000.

6) DETROIT (1982-1988)

Much like previous destinations on the list, the drivers did not enjoy racing around this circuit as it was bumpy and slippery. It soon gained a reputation as the most gruelling and demanding race on the F1 calendar, in every race held there at least 50% of the field retired. The saving grace for Detroit is that the difficult conditions did help create some excitement and entertainment at times.

5) SEBRING (1959)

Whilst the Indy 500 was a part of the championship between 1950 and 1960, the first official US Grand Prix was held at Sebring in 1959. The event was a financial flop, but the actual race was an exciting end to the season. A number of American drivers entered the event including big names Harry Schell and Phil Hill. Bruce McLaren won the race by just 0.6 seconds ahead of Maurice Trintignant and in the process became the youngest driver to win an F1 race (excluding Indy 500) and that record stood for nearly half a century. The results meant that Jack Brabham clinched the first of his three world titles.

4) INDIANAPOLIS (2000-2007)

In the year 2000, 9 years after the last US Grand Prix, an infield road circuit was created at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This would combine with the iconic front straightway to create a circuit that would be used as the destination for the US GP between 2000 and 2007. Things started incredibly well when over 200,000 saw the debut race in 2000. Interest in the even dwindled slightly and was completely shattered after the farcical 2005 race. Some of the infield corners were a little dreary, but on the whole the circuit flowed nicely and cars hammering down the start-finish straight was a joy to watch.

3) LONG BEACH (1976-1983)

What's F1's loss, is IndyCar's gain. Street circuits can be very difficult to get right and most of them (some of which are on this list) can provide poor driving conditions and procession-like races. Long Beach certainly didn't follow this trend and regularly provided cracking races. It was very popular amongst fans and drivers alike and was even dubbed "the Monaco of the United States". Notable moments in the circuit's history include an unbelievable McLaren 1-2 in 1983 when Watson and Lauda qualified 22nd and 23rd respectively, and an epic battle between Scheckter and Andretti in 1977.

2) AUSTIN (2012-PRESENT)

The current permanent home of the US Grand Prix. Whilst the Circuit of the Americas has arguably not given us any races that belong in the classic category as of yet, every race since its debut in 2012 has been a good one. The event itself is highly successful too as top musical artists often play throughout the weekend. With the ownership now American and an American F1 team in play, it would be safe to assume that the future of the race in Austin is in good hands.

1) WATKINS GLEN (1961-1980)

After two consecutive financial disasters in 1959 and 1960, it was decided the 1961 Grand Prix was to be held at Watkins Glen in New York state. The race was an overwhelming success and was the catalyst for a further 19 Grands Prix to be held at the circuit. It quickly became a fan favourite and one of the races that people looked forward to in a season. It often acted as the season's final race. The organisers of the race regularly received awards for hosting the best Grand Prix of the year.

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Comments (14)
  • Watkins Glen would be a good location for them, but I would love to see them come to Virginia International Raceway. Clarkson, Hammond and May visited VIR during season 16 of Top Gear. Car & Driver has been using it for their Lightning Lap runs for over 10 years. It's the most beautiful road course in the U.S. The IMSA WeatherTech Series runs there every year. Pirelli World Challenge runs there. ALMS went to VIR before merging with IMSA. Trans AM visits the track each year. There are 2 historic races there every year.

    1 year ago
  • I would absolutely love to see F1 in Laguna Seca. What about the streets of beautiful South Beach Miami? Breathtaking scenery, international audience. The US equivalent of Monte Carlo don’t you think?

    1 year ago
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