1980 United States Grand Prix

Watkins Glen, NY

October 5th, 1980

Wiki the race at Watkins Glen

I attended the (last) Formula 1 Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, NY. My plan was to 'beat the crowds' by driving up Friday night and arriving after midnight. I picked up my Pennsylvania-based rocket launching buddies, Joe & John, at about 8:00 pm. We drove up in my 2002 BMW and arrived a little before midnight. The plan worked great, but I later found out that less than half the expected crowd showed up. Attendance was way down, must have been the riots and the tear gassings from the previous years. ;-) John was up here the year when crowd hijacked and burned the Greyhound bus in "The Bog".
Camping was kept very simple, a simple three person nylon tent and a little charcoal kettle grill. One fry pan for cooking breakfast, lunch, & dinner. We had bacon & eggs, hamburgers, and hot dogs.
This is Andrea de Cesaris driving the #22 Alfa Romeo on the long back straightaway. I tried doing a pan-shot, as this was extremely fast part of the race track. He only did a couple of laps and was out of the race. The engine sounded great on this car. A very different exhaust note, compared to the Ford Cosworth dominated field. You knew this car was coming down the straight without having to see it first. This was true for the Ferrari, as well.
This is Didier Pironi driving the #25 Ligier-Ford into the diving turn after the long back straightaway. Behind him is Carlos Reutemann driving the #28 Williams-Ford. This was near the end of the race, as I recall, Carlos got around him a lap later.
After the race was over, the crowds started walking the race track surface. I thought that was pretty cool to do, so I did too. I was passed by this tow truck carrying none other than Gilles Villeneuve's #2 Ferrari. I was wondering what happened to him during the race. From my viewing spot, he just stopped coming around. I had no radio and there was no PA announcements, either. As it turned out, he got into an accident with one or two laps to go, if I recall correctly. Ferrari had a bad showing at this race, they qualified in the middle of the grid. The Alfa Romeos, the Brabhams & the Williams were really fast. They were head of the class over the entire field.

Notice the sliding skirts on this Ferrari, they were on full extension as the car hung from the tow boom. The front wing is bent and the front wheels are pigeon toed.

Some of the ground effects cars did not use front spoilers, the Ligier and the Alfa Romeo for example. The Williams and the Ferrari did.


This page last updated 10/18/2008.