Thursday, October 8, 2015

World's Largest Consumer still lacks Team, Drivers in Formula 1

No Fenders head scribe Tomaso briefly chats with America's next hopeful Formula 1 Pilote' Alexander Rossi at Will Buxton's Charity Bash in Austin, Texas last year. (The Tomaso Collection)
It seems to be a question that won't go away, albeit these days I only have my 'lil No Fenders BLOB' to converse about thee pinnacle 'O motorsports, nee Formula 1 upon...

Whilst I-T only comes around once a year. And like thee GURR-REAT Arlo Guthrie sez' in his fabled "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," more commonly known simply as "Alice's Restaurant." An epic 18-plus minute long song, "We're just waiting for I-T to come back around!" Where Y'all can get anything but Alice; Hooah!

Yeah, guess I've already gots Turkey Lurkey Day on my mind, especially due to Formula 1's title fights being so DAMN languid right now! As Guthrie's song is a Thanksgiving ritual - which used to only be heard once a year on the radio; but I digress...

Thus, inevitably when wanderin' round Austin, Texas's wonderful natural terrain permanent road course, the Circuit Of the Americas - better known as thy OLD-est IndyCar Blogger Geo. Phillips favourite Tex-Arse track COTA; Hooah! Which Y'all know is the current home of F1 in the states having just hosted its second US Grand Prix to rousing success - when I began scribblin' this, which I later lamented 'bout in;

As surely Y'all know the drill by now, right? Yuhs know when the No Fenders Wormhole Vortex invariably gets in thy way; Oh Never Mind!

Thus, one year; Err three years ago; CRIKEYS! I scribbled the following story in regards to the Questione if we really need some Americans in Formula 1 to cheer for?

While my COTA ("Sheppard") Seeing Eye Guide Dog Guy and Austin Host 'Claudio asked me what was the last American F1 Team in Grand Prix racing? 'Wayback in the fall of 2013, or was it 2012? For which I'm now just getting around to answering; Hya!

Having previously scribbled 'bout the ubiquitous 'Cossie (Cosworth) lumps prominently intertwined with "FoMoCo," aka Ford Motor Company, as in thee mighty "Blue Oval," known for spearheading American Motor Racing activities around the globe, most notably F1 during the 1960's to mid-1980's, nonetheless it would be Ford's lone turbocharged Formula 1 engine that propelled the last American F1 racing team known as Force/Lola with perennial IndyCar stalwart Carl Haas at the helm some three decades ago.

As a very quick perusal of my copious library 'O written words residing at Tomaso Manor seemingly reveals just a measly six 'Yank efforts to ever grace the annuals of Grand Prix motor  racing, excluding customer car entries.

OOPSADAISY! How could I forget Shadow Racing Cars Inc, eh? After all, sadly, American F1 race winner Revvie," aka Peter Revson lost his life whilst testing for the team in South Africa in '74. Therefore a total of seven American Constructor's have raced in Formula 1 so far...

The earliest American Constructor was the fabled Duesenberg  Car concern - taking a shock 1921 French Grand Prix victory with eventual Indy 500 winner Jimmy Murphy at the wheel. As the Duesenberg Brothers are only one of two American chassis builders to have won both a Grand Prix and the famed Indianapolis 500!

It would take nearly four decades before Playboy Lance Reventlow's ill-fated Scarab F1 project arrived, albeit Lance's front wheel machinery came too late to the F1 party as Sir Blackjack (Jack Brabham) was decimating the Grand Prix field aboard the revolutionary rear-engine Cooper Climaxes...

A further six years would pass before Daniel Sexton gurney and his Anglo American Racers (AAR) concern would enter F1 with Gurney becoming the second American to win a Grand Prix en route to becoming the only Yank to win aboard his own mount in the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix!

The legendous' Triple Indy 500 winner "Uncle Bobby" kindly poses with Tomaso in the Flagroom at Mother Speedway. (The Tomaso Collection)
Whilst surely Y'all have guessed that Dan Gurney's All American Racers (AAR) Eagle chassis have won the Indy 500 also, right? As Gordon Johncock won the ill-fated '73 race aboard a "tweaked" Eagle. With Gurney's own team taking victory in '75 with "Uncle Bobby." (Unser)


OOPSADAISY! As he'd probably punch me; Hya! That being the feisty Octogenarian "Uncle Bobby" for glossing over the fact that his maiden Indy 500 victory in 1968 came aboard a Leader Cards AAR Eagle chassis. Not to mention that Messer Unser made one Grand Prix start at Watkins Glen in a second BRM entry for the '68 USGP, albeit he later called Formula 1 drivers Pusses'

Whilst interestingly, "SuperMario," aka Mario Andretti shockingly took Pole for the race aboard a third Lotus, and Dan Gurney himself finished a fine fourth in a third McLaren - appropriately with the number 14! While both Andretti & Unser retired...


Six years later the somewhat mysterious Don Nichols aptly named Shadow Cars, replete with a cloaked man as part of their symbol. Shadow entered a brace of DN1 Cosworth powered chassis for Jacky Oliver and American George Follmer, the latter who'd score a single point in sixth place upon his F1 debut in South Africa - followed by an excellent third place second time out at the Spanish GP.

As Shadow raced first as an American flagged effort between 1973-76, and then changed to British nationality for the remainder of its less than stellar results, although Alan Jones did win the team's lone Grand Prix victory at Austria in 1977, while obviously, the team's definitive low point was the aforementioned death of Peter Revson at Kyalami.

At the end of the '74 season, not one, but Doce Americanos would field fledgling Formula One teams, albeit both fleeting, as Parnelli Jones and Roger Penske entered the fray.

'Ol Rufus (Parnelli Jones) and business partner Velco Miletich formed Vel's Parnelli Racing in the late 1960's before building and campaigning its VPJ-4 for future F1 World Champion Mario Andretti with mild results in Formula 1.

Meanwhile 'El Capitano, nee Roger Penske entered his very own Penske PC1 for  his longstanding driver Mark Donohue, who had raced the second McLaren in place of regular Jacky Oliver three years prior Up North Eh! At Mosport where he scored his lone podium finish, an excellent third place upon his Formula 1 debut!

As Penske-White Racing owned the second McLaren M19A/Cosworth DFV entered in both North American rounds, albeit 'Ol 'Hobbo, aka David Hobbs substituted for Donohue at Watkins Glen, before Penske entered his own cars for the '74 Canadian and United States rounds.

Sadly Donohue would perish behind the wheel of Team Penske's customer March 751 chassis upon suffering head injuries 40yrs ago at the Ostereichring - before "Wattie" (John Watson) won the team's lone Grand Prix victory ironically at the very same track, Austria's Ostereichring  one year later! Behind the wheel of the team's most competitive mount, the PC4, in what still stands today as the last American Flagged F1 Constructor to win a race.

Unfortunately, both American squads with their de riggour Cosworth DFV propelled chassis pulled the plugs upon their respective Formula 1 efforts during the '76 season.

Then, it would be nearly a further decade, when some nine years passed before the final (to date) American Formula 1 Constructor graced the Grand Prix Circus's grid.

When the aforementioned Carl Haas, America's sole importer of Lola chassis, with the commercial backing of Beatrice, along with "Works" support from the Ford Motor Company arrived in 1985.

The team made their debut at the Italian Grand Prix on Sept 8, 1985 with a single entry for 1980 world champion Alan Jones aboard a "Lola" THL1 Hart 415T Inline "4-Banger" turbo. As Ford's brand new TEC V-6 twin turbo lump wasn't available until the following season.

The 1986 season was the Force Haas Lola team's zenith, when Jones was joined by new team-mate Patrick Tambay, who began the season again with the Hart engine chassis before the Lola THL2-Ford V-6 finally appeared first for Jones and the second car a race later for Tambay.

Both drivers had their most successful outing in Austria, where they scored the team's only "Double" points tally. With Jones leading Tambay home to a P4-5 finish, albeit laps behind the race's winner, "The Professor," nee Alain Prost with the two Ferrari's of Michele Alboreto and 'lil "Stevie Johnson" (Stefan Johansson) claiming the podium's remaining steps.

One year after its debut, Jones scored the final point for Haas when he finished sixth at Monza, yet the team was already in decline due largely to Beatrice's change of management the summer prior as the money dried up - with the team folding at the end of the season.

While Ford  and later Cosworth would resurrect the veritable Double Four Valves lump during the next normally aspirated engine era, along with extending its life with new derivatives, the end of the line finally arrived with the introduction of today's hugely complex hybrid PU's. (Power Units)

At my last very unofficial count, especially since it's been a few years now, I had cataloged 45 American Drivers having contested Formula One, excluding Test & Reserve Drivers, or those to make Friday Practice Session appearances, which a further nine have taken part in, albeit Graham Rahal's Demonstration Runs at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas for BMW Sauber F1 in 2008 is arguably debatable.

The last Bonafied American F1 Pilote was Scott Speed. As the Californian spent two seasons with Scuderia Toro rosso, (2006-07) with little success, albeit he graduated from GP2, where he finished third overall in 2005.

Thus, will Alexander Rossi, a past F1 "Simulator Jockey" for both Caterham F1 & Marussia F1 who's made selected Friday morning FP1 (Free Practice) appearances over the years, and is currently battling to retain his runner-up status in this year's GP2 championship make his way onto the Formula 1 grid finally?

Obviously Rossi's goal, a la countless others, i.e.; Conor Daly for instance, is to crack the elusive barrier of becoming the next American F1 racing driver. Yet unfortunately, unless Haas F1 Team Principal Gunther Steiner is playing a masterful game of "Go Fish!" In his latest fluff piece interview on, Alexander may wish to  revert to this year's initial plans of focusing upon Indy Cars instead...

Scott Speed has a colourful past in F1, having cussed his way out of his lone Grand Prix point after finishing eighth in Australia!(having been docked 25-seconds  for having overtaken David Coulthard under a Yellow flag initially - then fined $5k for swearing at the Australian Stewards!) Thus being classified ninth instead.

Then the Groovy Californian ultimately became Toro Rosso's team Principal Franz Tost's Punching Bag literally! Before being bounced out of Formula 1 midway thru the summer of '07 to make way for some precocious German Teenager named Vettel; Ja Volt!

As its sad to think we've only had three American drivers participate in Formula 1 the past 30yrs - when Eddie Cheever was in the second and final year of mediocrity with the "Works" Alfa Romeo squad propelled by their overly thirsty 1.5-liter V-8 turbocharged lumps.

Cheever, who's claim to fame is being the American F1 driver with most career starts, 132 over eleven years, (1978-89) ironically deputized for Tambay at the Detroit Grand Prix in '86 when the Frenchman was injured. As Eddie, who basically would be considered as a Journeyman Driver, spent his best years in F1 as Alain Prost's sidekick at le Reggie, nee Renault circa 1983 - before both drivers were dumped!

Lastly, Y'all surely recall that Mikey A' spent one partial season as somebody named Ayrton's Wingman at McLaren in 1993, right? As McLaren was in a rebuilding phase, a la today, when the team was forced into becoming a Ford customer team after Honda had decided to abandon F1; Hmm? Sound Familiar?

Although the season was less than spectacular compared to the previous Honda world championship years. Nevertheless, team leader Ayrton Senna recorded five victories vs. Ford's "Works" team Benetton's young prodigy, a fellah named Michael Schumacher, who only recorded a single victory that year!

Meanwhile, Michael Andretti claimed his lone F1 podium finish at Monza before quitting the team and returning back Stateside to IndyCar racing, where he'd score Chip Ganassi and Reynard their debutant victory.

Alas, it appears that  we'll still be awaiting the arrival of another Yank in Formula 1 next year, although I suppose Rossi could be tapped as the team's "Simulator Jockey," nee Reserve driver? A role he knows far too well; as I'll expect Mexico's Esteban Gutierrez to land one of the race seats next year...

Author's Note

This story,  as most, was begun way before the surprise announcement of Alexander Rossi making his F1 debut for Manor Marussia F1 at Singapore. Which naturally, No Fenders wishes him best success along with the hopeful landing of a Fulltime drive in Formula 1 next year...