1975 United States Grand Prix
was a Formula One race held on October
5, 1975 at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race
Course in Watkins Glen, New York.
With eight poles, five wins, the Driver's Championship and the
Constructor's Championship already in the bag for 1975, Ferrari
had but one piece of unfinished
business at Watkins Glen, which was once again the last race of the
season. It seems that none of the "old man's" cars had ever won the
United States Grand Prix. Nor had any driver ever won the American
race in the year he claimed the title. First-time Champion Niki Lauda
had something to say about both of
these "statistics," however, and convincingly won both the pole and
There were already controversial rumblings in the paddock before
practice even began. The Canadian Grand Prix had been cancelled and the organizers had arrived
in the paddock with a writ to freeze the prize money over legal
There were also disputes with the Grand Prix Drivers
over transfer fees and wages. On a more
lighthearted note, Lord Alexander Hesketh
sported a rather ample T-shirt urging fans to 'Save the
The track had been modified for this race by the
addition of the "Scheckter chicane"
at the bottom of the hill entering the esses. After
François Cevert's fatal crash
there two years earlier, the corner was deemed to be too fast.
Named for the Tyrrell driver who
suggested it, the chicane was expected to add nearly five seconds
to the lap times, making the previous year's pole of 1:38.9
Sadly, as practice began, a rising American star was absent from
the field. Mark Donohue
fatally injured in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix
, and John Watson
had replaced Donahue
on the Penske
team. Lauda was quickest
from the start, as the drivers got accustomed to the new layout.
registered in with quickest time on Friday, just .01 of a second
better than Lauda, but the Austrian hopped in his spare Ferrari
(his regular car had an engine vibration) and beat the March
's time by almost a full second. On
Saturday, it was Emerson
who briefly held the pole at 1:42.360, but Lauda
answered his challenge as well, ending the discussion at 1:42.003.
, Jean-Pierre Jarier
, Mario Andretti
and Brambilla took the rest of
the top sixpositions on the grid.
On Sunday, briefly sunny and very warm, two cars
and one driver were thwarted before even reaching the grid.
Watson's Penske suffered electrical problems in the morning
warmup. As he was being towed in, the crew retrieved the
display car from the First National Citibank podium in the paddock
and prepared it to enter the race! Not a proud moment for
Citibank, the sponsors of the race; and the car still had settings
from the French Grand Prix,
where it had last run! The Williams team disappeared
completely when Lella Lombardi's car
also had electrical failure, and her teammate Jacques Laffite mistook visor cleaning fluid
for his eyedrops! He turned out to be okay, but was unable
to race. Determined to become the first female driver at
The Glen, Lombardi tried to get in the Frenchman's car, but she
Lauda led the field away from the grid and through the new chicane
for the first time, followed by Fittipaldi, Jarier, Brambilla,
Reutemann and Andretti. Carlos
and Patrick Depailler
went out of the race together on lap 2 when Pace tried to sneak his
inside the Tyrrell at the end of the
back straight. Depailler didn't see him, and the collision put them
both into the catch fence.
between Lauda's Ferrari and Fittipaldi's McLaren settled at
about one second.
Mass, who had moved up to sixth, suddenly
lost three places to Andretti, James
, and Ronnie Peterson
he accidentally switched off his engine. On the next lap, with
now immediately in front of
him, Clay Regazzoni
smashed his nose
against the rear wheel of the McLaren and lost more than a lap as
he pitted for a new one. On lap 10, Reutemann's engine expired and
Andretti's front suspension collapsed. This left Lauda and
Fittipaldi 12 seconds ahead of Jarier, who was five seconds clear
of a group containing Hunt, Brambilla, Mass, Peterson and
Lauda's teammate Regazzoni was caught by the
leaders on lap 18, after his lengthy pit stop. He let
Lauda by, but went out of his way to hold up Fittipaldi.
Regazzoni continued to slow through the chicane and weave
across the track as Fittipaldi shook his fist and the marshals
waved their blue flags 'for six laps.
When the blue flag turned to black, Regazzoni finally
allowed the Brazilian past. He hoped that would be
it, but Clerk of the Course Berdie Martin insisted on bringing
Regazzoni in for a warning. This incensed Ferrari
manager Luca di Montezemolo, who
actually got into a bit of a scuffle with Martin, and then withdrew
Regazzoni from the race in protest.
Back on the track, Fittipaldi was now 15 seconds behind Lauda,
Jarier had retired with a seized rear wheel bearing, Brambilla
dropped back to seventh as he was being tossed about because of
loose seat supports, and a terrific battle for third place was
raging between Hunt, Mass, Peterson and Scheckter. Mass pushed Hunt
hard for several laps, and was able to get by the Hesketh
on lap 33. With nine laps to go,
Peterson also passed Hunt, who was struggling with his gear
selection and brake balance. Just three laps from the flag, Mass
felt his brakes fading, and Peterson smelled a chance for the
podium. As he closed on the McLaren, however, he locked up his left
front tire under braking. The resulting flat spot made it very
difficult to get through Turn One, and slowed him enough for Hunt
to retake fourth on the last lap.
Lauda allowed his lead to dwindle to just under five seconds at the
finish, and savored the fitting climax to his first Championship
season. He said he did not care a bit about his statistical
achievements as the first World Champion and first Ferrari driver
to win the United States Grand Prix, but he did care about the
- Doug Nye (1978). The United States Grand Prix and Grand
Prize Races, 1908-1977. B. T. Batsford. ISBN
- Rob Walker (January, 1976). "17th United States Grand Prix:
Ferrari's First World Championship Formula 1 Win In America".
Road & Track, 70-73.