Phoenix street circuit
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The track in 1989 and 1990
The track in 1991
|Location||Phoenix, Arizona, United States|
|Major events||Formula One|
|Length||3.72 km (2.312 mi)|
|Lap record||1:21.434 (Ayrton Senna, McLaren-Honda, 1991)|
The Formula One United States Grand Prix was held on the Phoenix street circuit in Phoenix, Arizona, between 1989 and 1991. It was held in downtown by the Phoenix Civic Plaza and the America West Arena, prior to the introduction of the state's baseball stadium, Bank One Ballpark. The United States Grand Prix lasted in Phoenix for three years, but was ultimately dropped due to poor fan turnout. There were no further Formula 1 races in the US until the Indianapolis Motor Speedway first held a Grand Prix in 2000.
The United States Grand Prix was first held in Phoenix on June 4, 1989. Ayrton Senna took pole in his McLaren-Honda but suffered an electronic failure a little over halfway through the race. The scorching heat of the Phoenix desert made it a nightmare on the teams and drivers and of the 26 cars that started the race, only six finished. Alain Prost, Senna's teammate, won ahead of Riccardo Patrese and Phoenix native Eddie Cheever. Fourth-placed Christian Danner scored what turned out to be his final points-scoring finish. His Rial team also would never score points in Formula One competition again.
In an attempt to beat the scorching Arizona heat, the event was moved to become the season opener the next year, held on March 11, 1990. Senna recovered from his near miss in '89 to win the Grand Prix. Jean Alesi finished 2nd, making his mark as a driver to watch in the future as he pressured the Brazilian world champion in a Tyrrell, a car that was average at best compared to the McLaren. Alesi's teammate, Satoru Nakajima, also scored a point in that race. The event was the only time a Minardi made it onto the front row of the grid, as Pierluigi Martini qualified 2nd behind Gerhard Berger.
The last United States Grand Prix held in Phoenix was on March 10, 1991. Senna took another victory. Again reliability was a factor with only nine cars running at the finish. For a second straight season both Tyrrells finished in the points; Stefano Modena, who had replaced the Ferrari-bound Alesi, in fourth heading Nakajima in fifth. The death blow for the organizers came when word arose that a local ostrich festival had drawn more people than the Grand Prix.
- "Prost Gains 1st Victory of Year;Wins Phoenix Grand Prix", The Washington Post, 5 June 1989