Just finished watching last nights Shanghai Formula 1 Practice 2 TV coverage where SPEED’s Bob Varsha decided to bust out the trivial info of having seen it somewhere... (On le internets?) That this weekend’s Long Beach Grand Prix Indy Car action just happens to coincide with the 33rd Anniversary of some Cat named Mario Andretti winning the Formula One’s ’77 USGP West held at Long Beach, CA aboard his Lotus 78-Ford.
David Hobbs who participated in the inaugural Long Beach Grand Prix noted how a ‘Juan Mr. Rufus Parnelli Jones will be the Man of Honour this year in some sorta celebratory occasion of which Dan Gurney was the honoree last year and that others such as Brian Redman and Bobby Rahal amongst others should be on hand participating.
Actually the date was April 3, 1977 when Mario took the chequered flag ahead of the Scuderia’s Niki Lauda, in his Ferrari 312T2 with the upstart Canadian Walter Wolf’s Jody Scheckter taking the Podium’s final step in his Wolf WR1/WR3 Ford Cosworth DFV V-8.
Andretti’s victory would be the first of his four that year: Long Beach, Spain, France and Monza, Italy, while his lesser known teammate, the late ‘Swede Gunnar Nilsson scored his lone F1 victory at the rain soaked Belgian GP at Zolder on June 5th.
Interestingly this trio of Long Beach’s Podium finishers would also claim the top three positions in the 1977 Driver’s World Championship, albeit somewhat inverted, with the title winner being Niki Lauda, with a surprising Scheckter runner-up and Mario finishing third...