At Long Beach, California, U.S.A., 27 world class drivers have gathered for the first United?
At Long Beach, California, U.S.A., 27 world class drivers have gathered for the first United States Grand Prix West Formula One World Championship which will take place through the city's streets on Sunday (28 March). But for seven of the drivers, the journey will have been in vain - only twenty cars will be allowed to start.
The decision to restrict the numbers is a conscious effort to reduce the chances of a multi-car accident in the crowded opening seconds of the race, as occurred in Spain last year.
The race has two claims for world attention. It is the only other motor racing championship - apart from Monte Carlo - to be run on a course laid out over the streets of a town. And it makes the United States the only country to be awarded two races on the Grand Prix circuit in a year.
It is estimated that preparing the course will have cost the city more than half a million dollars, and from Thursday evening (25 March) parts of Ocean Boulevard, the main business thoroughfare, Pine and Linden Avenues, Shoreline Drive, and a few adjoining areas were closed to the public.
The 2.02 miles (3 km) course will be lined on both sides with nearly five miles of precast concrete barriers, each 12 feet long, 34 inches high and weighing four tons. On top of the barriers will be another five miles of chain-link fencing 10 feet high.
On the bends and in the escape areas, the barriers will be faced with a tyre cushion, made u from 25,000 old tyres lashed together in rows up to four deep and eight to ten tyres high.
In addition to these barriers there will be 1,500 oil drums filled with 650 pounds of sand and fastened to one another.
The organisers are prepared to accommodate up to 90,000 paying spectators, who they hope will have been attracted by such famous racing names as Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi, Rohhie Peterson, Mario Andretti and Jody Scheckter.
Another innovation will be that the race will last a statutory two hours, and the winner will be the driver who covers the longest mileage in that time. the purse is 265,000 dollars (GBP132,500 sterling), with the winner's share working out at between 50,000 and 75,000 dollars.
SYNOPSIS: On Thursday, the city corporation of Long Beach in California closed off sections of its main down-town area, and began preparations for the first United States Grand Prix West Formula One World Championship race. This is the point on Ocean Boulevarde where the high powered racing cars will start on Sunday.
It will be the only motor raging championship - apart from Monte Carlo - to be run over a course laid out over the streets of a town. It will also make the United States the only country to be awarded two races on the Grand Prix circuit in a year
It has cost the city more than half a million dollars to prepare the course, which is just over two miles long. It has been lined on both sides with nearly five miles of precast concrete barriers, each twelve feet long and nearly three feet high. On top of the barriers there is another: five miles of chain-link fencing ten feet high.
No expense had been spared to protect the thousands of spectators expected.
With the British liner, Queen Mary, providing a splendid backdrop, the world class racing stars will be taxed to the limit around the fourteen bends on the course. On some stretches, speeds are expected to reach 160 miles per hour, and the crash barriers are cushioned with twenty-five thousand old tyres lashed together.
Instead of taking place over a number of laps, the race will last a statutory two hours. There is more than a quarter of a million dollars to be won in prize money, with the winner taking between fifty and seventy-five thousand.