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IRP Bid for USGP?


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#1 indysteve

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Posted 08 October 2001 - 06:25

About a year ago, I came across a web page which had an article describing an effort having being made to bring the USGP to Indianapolis Raceway Park. I believe this would have been in 1961, since the road course at IRP was completed in the spring of that year. Eventually, the USGP was awarded to Watkins Glen, where it remained for many years.

Unfortunately, I failed to bookmark this web page and now I can't find it. Does anyone have information on this attempt to bring the USGP to IRP? Anyplace on the web (or other sources) where I can read about it? Please tell me that I didn't just imagine the whole thing!

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#2 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 08 October 2001 - 08:12

I think this is the thread you are looking for.

http://www.atlasf1.c...40&pagenumber=2

Check out Mike Argetsinger's post at the top of page 2.

#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 October 2001 - 14:05

If I can just throw a curve ball in here ...

There was another candidate for the 1961 US GP, which was actually announced as the venue before Watkins Glen: this was a disused US Navy Blimp Station called NAS Richmond, just outside Miami. Richmond had been wrecked by a hurricane in 1945 and doesn't seem to have been rebuilt, although today it is home to a proposed military museum:

http://town.surfside...s/special3.html

#4 Mike Argetsinger

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Posted 08 October 2001 - 18:24

I would like to clear up some of the confusion and misunderstandings that have been stated in earlier posts on this thread.

It was 1963 - not 1961 - that IRP made its bid for the USGP. Just to be perfectly clear on that - IRP was never a factor - nor were they seeking it - for the date in '61. They did make a strong bid through ACCUS (Automobile Competition Committee of the United States) for the race in 1963. That bid was ultimately not successful and the Grand Prix remained at Watkins Glen. There is quite a story behind all that but I won't bore anyone with ancient details.

The 1961 story is quite different and separate. The NAS Richmond Base was not really a serious candidate. To understand why it was "floated" as the next venue requires some additional background and I will, in this case, risk boring with ancient detail.

When Alec Ulmann obtained the rights to put on the USGP he had a three year option. As is well known the first race in December 1959 was at Sebring where Ulmann had been successfully putting on international sports car races - the Sebring 12-Hours annually in March - since the very early 50's. As is also well known the GP was a financial failure there and Ulmann took the race to Riverside in 1960. Without attempting to go in to all the reasons why - and they make quite a story themselves - the race failed there too - on even a larger scale than the year before. The impact of this second failure - which involved the teams not getting paid (although Charles Moran who was President of ACCUS and Briggs Cunningham personally wrote checks to cover everyone - just to preserve the international reputation of American racing) was so severe that there was really no way that Alec Ulmann could put on the race in 1961.

However he had the three year option and was determined that noone else would put on the race if he couldn't. The Richmond site was just one of several that he floated during the year as he endeavored to hold on to the race. His option expired in mid-August.

Meanwhile at Watkins Glen Cameron Argetsinger had been successfully organizing international Formula Libre races beginning in 1958. In '58 and '59 we had only one contemporary GP car each year (Bonnier in a 250F Maserati in '58 and Stirling Moss in the Yeoman Credit Cooper-Climax in '59) but in '60 we brought four GP cars (Moss -who won -in the Rob Walker Lotus, Brabham in the works Cooper, and two Yeoman Credit Coopers for Bonnier and Gendebien) plus we had Ecurie Ecosse with Roy Salvadori in a Cooper Monaco and Paul O'Shea in D Jaguar. So we were well established with a reputation for excellent organization and for paying in cash! Plus the European teams liked Watkins Glen - the people, the circuit, the professionalism, but the small town charm too. We were already on the calendar for October 1961 for an Intercontinental Formula race. That formula though was struggling - even in England where it had its strongest following.

The ACCUS approached my father just six weeks before our October date and asked him if he could put the GP on. The answer of course was a resounding yes! This had been his goal since 1948 when he organized the very first post-war American road race at Watkins Glen. In fact, we very nearly had the USGP in 1951/52 on the original 6.6 mile course through town - but that's another story.

To return to the point though - the USGP was never going to happen anywhere in 1961 unless it was at Watkins Glen. Everything else was smoke and dissembling.

#5 indysteve

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Posted 08 October 2001 - 23:13

Thanks to all for the replies -- and my apologies for getting the year wrong. I suspect that quite a few race fans in the Indianapolis area would be surprised to learn that efforts were made to bring the USGP to our city 38 years ago!

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 October 2001 - 23:20

I don't think you're ever boring Mike ...:)

Thanks for that info - I'd only picked up that story a few weeks ago when it was mentioned in another forum and had it in mind to start a thread on it: you saved me the bother! Do you have any idea what any of the other possible sites might have been?

#7 bobbo

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Posted 09 October 2001 - 11:21

Mike:

"In fact, we very nearly had the USGP in 1951/52 on the original 6.6 mile course throughtown - but that's another story."

Tell us more!!

PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!! :up: :up: :up:

Bobbo

#8 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 October 2001 - 12:19

Originally posted by bobbo
Mike:

"In fact, we very nearly had the USGP in 1951/52 on the original 6.6 mile course throughtown - but that's another story."

Tell us more!!

PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!! :up: :up: :up:

Bobbo


Yes, please Mike - anything to do with not being able to stop the trains?:)

#9 Maranello Man

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Posted 09 October 2001 - 12:46

Originally posted by Vitesse2
If I can just throw a curve ball in here ...

There was another candidate for the 1961 US GP, which was actually announced as the venue before Watkins Glen: this was a disused US Navy Blimp Station called NAS Richmond, just outside Miami. Richmond had been wrecked by a hurricane in 1945 and doesn't seem to have been rebuilt, although today it is home to a proposed military museum:

http://town.surfside...s/special3.html


The area was rebullt. It is the home of Miami Metrozoo where I am the Director of Exhibits and Graphics. This whole plant is under going a master plan redo that will cost somewhere between $200-400 Million. There are plans for theme parks outside of the zoo a hotel complex, etc. No racetrack.

Miami Homestead race track 15 miles south of the zoo, COULD have been a possible home for a USGP but as in everything else we do in Miami it gets all screwed up.

You would think with all the money Don Panoz has he would make Road Atlanta a F1 class track. It's near a major metropolitan city and airport...


Forza Ferrari!