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.
At the instigation of Howard Pynn, a Scottsdale businessman, in 1987, the city of Phoenix began investigating holding a Formula 1 race. Phoenix officials approached Bernie Ecclestone, then vice president of the Formula One Group, during the 1987 Detroit Grand prix. In October 1988, the city of Detroit decided to run an Indy car event instead of Formula 1 in 1989. On January 13, 1989, Phoenix City Council agreed to stage an annual Formula 1 race on a five-year contract. Phoenix city council also voted to spend $9 million of tax payer's money on race circuit infrastructure over the 5 years. It was well known to organizers that Phoenix can be very hot during summer, but nonetheless, Phoenix inherited the Detroit race's scheduled slot of June 4, 1989. The city had only 4 months to finish the 2.36 mile long circuit in time, which required fencing off and repaving the road surface, building grandstands, garages for the pit crew, and other infrastructure. The project was so massive that local media joked that the city looked as if it was preparing for a Soviet invasion.
In the inaugural race in 1989, Ayrton Senna took pole in his McLaren-Honda but suffered an electronic failure a little over halfway through the race. The heat of the Phoenix desert was hard on teams and drivers, and only 6 of 26 cars finished. Alain Prost, Senna's teammate, won the race ahead of Riccardo Patrese and Eddie Cheever.
The last United States Grand Prix held in Phoenix was on March 10, 1991, with Senna again claiming victory. Again reliability was a factor, with only nine cars still running at the end of the race. 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. Due to lack of interest, the event was then cancelled; a local ostrich festival had more attendees.
- Siano, Joseph (January 30, 1989). "Auto Racing; Grand Prix Moves to Phoenix". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
- New site for grand prix race,Observer Reporter Washington, associated press June 4th 1989
- The Phoenix New Times, The Less Than Grand Prix by Tom Fitzpatrick Wednesday, 10 May 1989
- "Prost Gains 1st Victory of Year;Wins Phoenix Grand Prix", The Washington Post, 5 June 1989