Before Circuit of the Americas, before Indianapolis, Phoenix, and Detroit, Formula 1 ran wild in the streets of Long Beach. Dubbed the U.S. Grand Prix West to differentiate from the Watkins Glen race in New York, the Los Angeles event was a sensory feast for fans between 1976 and 1983. Something about the glamor and pandemonium of a California street circuit matched the era’s excess and characters, all sunglasses and muttonchops, fat tires and experimental wings, with big turbo power and no small accidents. The event was ultimately short-lived, but it felt like our Monte Carlo. Forty years later, here’s a look back at the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix West.
The 2016 F1 U.S. Grand Prix gets underway in Austin, Texas on Sunday, October 23, at 3:00 p.m. EST. The race will be broadcast live on NBC.