sport news Lost F1 tracks, Long Beach: Wanted to be Monaco of the USA

In the last few years Formula One has only just started to get used to the idea of having a United States Grand Prix again following the emergence of the Circuit of the Americas.

LOST GRAND PRIX

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But there was a time in the early 1980s when as much as three US venues hosted grands prix. One of those was under the banner of the United States Grand Prix West.

Race promoter Chris Pook's vision was to make Long Beach the 'Monte Carlo of the US'. As far as ambitions go when designing F1 venues, they don't come much bolder but from its inaugural race in 1976 the event proved a hit among the drivers and teams.

In its eight year run, Long Beach was always an early season race held around late March or early April and despite the street circuit being gruelling on cars and the drivers, the California setting on the Pacific coast was hugely popular.

But cost issues arose in 1983 - the final year of Formula One at the track - and the high expense of hosting the race saw the venue turn its back on F1 in favour of the more US recognised Champ Cars series.

It's final couple of years saw heavy modifications to the route - as well as a change in the start-finish line from 1978. But from 1976 to 1981 the course remained the same and you can see an onboard lap of the circuit with Patrick Depailler's Tyrrell .

Oddly enough, no driver who won at the track went on to win the world championship in the same year as Sportsmail looks back at the circuit that came close to becoming an F1 mainstay in the United States.

James Hunt enjoys the sun and the company in the build up to the inaugural United States Grand Prix West in 1976

James Hunt enjoys the sun and the company in the build up to the inaugural United States Grand Prix West in 1976

One of the trickier corners on the circuit was the first one as following the start straight a right turn would immediately throw the car into a short but sharp decline down Linden Avenue, as demonstrated here by Jody Scheckter whose unbalanced Tyrrell has its right front off the ground. Spectators on the left enjoy the view from a building that has since been demolished

One of the trickier corners on the circuit was the first one as following the start straight a right turn would immediately throw the car into a short but sharp decline down Linden Avenue, as demonstrated here by Jody Scheckter whose unbalanced Tyrrell has its right front off the ground. Spectators on the left enjoy the view from a building that has since been demolished

The start of the race for the first couple of years was held on the north part of the track at Ocean Boulevard which remained part of the circuit every year until the final Formula One running in 1983. Clay Regazzoni's Ferrari leads the way from the start in the inaugural 1976 race ahead of Patrick Depailler's Tyrrell on the way to a comfortable 40-second win having led all 80 laps

The start of the race for the first couple of years was held on the north part of the track at Ocean Boulevard which remained part of the circuit every year until the final Formula One running in 1983. Clay Regazzoni's Ferrari leads the way from the start in the inaugural 1976 race ahead of Patrick Depailler's Tyrrell on the way to a comfortable 40-second win having led all 80 laps

James Hunt runs into trouble at the start of the 1977 race, as the world champion's McLaren climbs over British compatriot's John Watson and his Brabham as the duo enter turn one (Cook's Corner) on the opening lap. Hunt damaged his suspension but was able to continue and missed out on a point by just two seconds after finishing seventh

James Hunt runs into trouble at the start of the 1977 race, as the world champion's McLaren climbs over British compatriot's John Watson and his Brabham as the duo enter turn one (Cook's Corner) on the opening lap. Hunt damaged his suspension but was able to continue and missed out on a point by just two seconds after finishing seventh

Another view of Cook's Corner from 1977 shows Gunnar Nilsson's Lotus followed by Jean-Pierre Jarier - with the latter eventually denying Hunt his points finish. Locals watch the drama from every floor of a nearby balcony in a race won by USA's Mario Andretti who took advantage of Jody Scheckter's slow puncture to take the lead with four laps remaining

Another view of Cook's Corner from 1977 shows Gunnar Nilsson's Lotus followed by Jean-Pierre Jarier - with the latter eventually denying Hunt his points finish. Locals watch the drama from every floor of a nearby balcony in a race won by USA's Mario Andretti who took advantage of Jody Scheckter's slow puncture to take the lead with four laps remaining

Andretti (left) would only finish second a year later as the American engages in discussion with his Lotus team including boss Colin Chapman (centre). Despite missing out on victory, Andretti would benefit hugely from the introduction of the innovative and dominant Lotus 79 later in the season which fired him towards his sole world championship

Andretti (left) would only finish second a year later as the American engages in discussion with his Lotus team including boss Colin Chapman (centre). Despite missing out on victory, Andretti would benefit hugely from the introduction of the innovative and dominant Lotus 79 later in the season which fired him towards his sole world championship

In Long Beach though, Andretti (right) had to settle for the soon to be obsolete Lotus 78 which although bettered most was not enough to prevent Carlos Reutemann (centre) taking victory for Ferrari in 1978, with Patrick Depailler (left) third for Tyrrell

In Long Beach though, Andretti (right) had to settle for the soon to be obsolete Lotus 78 which although bettered most was not enough to prevent Carlos Reutemann (centre) taking victory for Ferrari in 1978, with Patrick Depailler (left) third for Tyrrell

The star of Gilles Villeneuve shone brightly but all too briefly in Formula One but one of his career highlights came at Long Beach in 1979 when he took his only grand slam - pole position, fastest lap and win while leading every lap

The star of Gilles Villeneuve shone brightly but all too briefly in Formula One but one of his career highlights came at Long Beach in 1979 when he took his only grand slam - pole position, fastest lap and win while leading every lap

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