1976 Long Beach Grand Prix
- Sunday, March 28, 1976
- United States Grand Prix West
- F1 World Championship
Long Beach, California, March 27th
After all the controversy and discussion over safety facilities at Barcelona and Monte Carlo, and opinions expressed in high places that motor racing on public roads had no future in the overall “order of things”, the Grand Prix circus pitched its big-top in the unlikely location of Long Beach, California and proceeded to put on the show that anyone can buy as long as they’ve got somewhere to run it and 265,000 dollars, or whatever, to pay the performers’ fees. The United States Grand Prix West, ably organised and promoted by the enterprising “Long Beach Grand Prix Corporation” took place over 80 laps of a 2.02-mile circuit laid out round the streets of this Californian coast city. With a long start/ finish straight on the imposingly titled Ocean Boulevard joined to the rest of the tight little circuit by two very steep hills, Long Beach promised to be hard on driveshafts and suspension, so a really reliable Grand Prix car was just what was required.
In the event the result proved all too familiar—or did it? Leading from start to finish, setting the fastest lap in the process and having started from pole position was the customary sight of a Ferrari 312B3(T). The only difference from usual was that its distinctive striped cold airbox carried the number “2” instead of number “1”. Number “1” was there all right, but by the time the race was over it had fallen to well over forty seconds behind its team-mate. Explaining it all away proved a little difficult, several of Ferrari’s rivals remarking wickedly “So Rega had the 3 1/2-litre engine this time” to which others replied “Or was it a 4.4-litre Berlinetta Boxer engine?”. But the fact of the matter was that the Swiss qualified his Ferrari for pole position and World Champion Niki Lauda could manage no better than fourth place after his car broke a driveshaft in the final, crucial, timed practice session.
Long Beach, California
Temporary street circuit
Nelson Piquet (Brabham BT49-Ford), 1m19.830, 91.094 mph, F1, 1980
First Race1975 Long Beach Grand Prix