A history of the United States Grand Prix
The US Grand Prix has a rich history in Formula One, but the sport has always struggled to compete against home-grown motorsports such as NASCAR and IndyCar. In the 1950s the Indy 500 was a points-scoring round on the calendar, but Formula One truly arrived stateside in 1959 with the first US Grand Prix at Sebring, won by Bruce McLaren.
The venue shifted to Riverside in 1960, but due to a lack of interest new promoters took over in 1961 and moved it again to Watkins Glen. The grand prix flourished at its new home and The Glen became one of the most popular destinations on the calendar. Things started to turn sour in the 1970s with the deaths of Francois Cevert and Helmut Koinigg after drivers had complained about the bumpy surface of the circuit. There were also concerns off track as fans partied hard and routinely set fire to cars - as well as a Greyhound Bus in 1974 - in a mud bowl near one of the car parks known as The Bog.
In 1980 the last US Grand Prix was held at Watkins Glen but by that time another race had sprouted up at the Long Beach street circuit. In 1981 and 1982 the Caesars Palace Grand Prix attempted to fill the void left by Watkins Glen, but with the race being held in a casino car park, it fell some way short. In 1983 Long Beach also dropped off the calendar and F1 moved to the hub of the USA's motor industry, Detroit. The street track stayed on the calendar until 1988 and was joined in 1984 by a one-off race in Dallas, where high temperatures resulted in the track breaking up. Pheonix took over the mantle for three years starting in 1989, but when just 18,500 fans turned up to the race in 1991 F1 turned its back on the States for the rest of the decade.
In 2000 the race arrived at Indianapolis on a specially-designed infield circuit that also incorporated one corner of the circuit's famous oval. It was an immediate hit with 225,000 spectators filling the Brick Yard's vast grandstands, but relations with US fans took a turn for the worse in 2005 when teams running with Michelin tyres had to pull out of the race due to safety concerns. Just six cars took part in the race - the Ferraris, Jordans and Minardis - and the fans were understandably outraged. The race stayed at Indianapolis for two more years before it fell off the calendar due to the increasing costs of the sanctioning fees.
However, Formula One in the USA is set for a resurgence, with Austin due to join the calendar at a purpose-built circuit in 2012 and a second race in New Jersey in 2013. The Austin race will see the return of the US Grand Prix after a five year hiatus, but its arrival back on the calendar hasn't been without drama. The promoters, circuit owners and Bernie Ecclestone had a very public row in 2011 over the sanctioning fee and construction at the venue came to a halt. However, everything is now back on track with the first race due to be held at Austin on November 18.