The 2005 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on June 19, 2005 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race was highly controversial because only six cars competed; all fourteen of the cars using Michelin tyres retired after the parade lap due to a safety issue with their tyres and the newly resurfaced speedway, leaving only the teams using Bridgestone rubber — Ferrari, Minardi and Jordan — to start.
Following several tyre failures before the race, most spectacularly on Ralf Schumacher's Toyota during Friday practice, Michelin advised its seven customer teams that they could not safely race on the tyres provided for them. The FIA, the sport's governing body, refused to allow a chicane to be installed, maintaining that such rule changes would be grossly unfair to the Bridgestone-shod teams, who had come prepared with properly working tyres. The Michelin teams, unable to come to a compromise with the FIA did not participate in the race on safety grounds.
Of the six competitors, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was the eventual winner. The result significantly boosted his championship standing, placing him third overall — no driver above him in the table took part in the race. The situation created enormous negative publicity for the sport of Formula One, especially in America, a market in which Formula One has struggled to establish itself over the last 20 years.
Gilles Villeneuve (January 18, 1950 – May 8, 1982) was a Canadian Formula One racing driver. An enthusiast of cars and fast driving from an early age, he started his professional career in snowmobile racing in his native province of Quebec. He moved into single seaters - winning the US and Canadian Formula Atlantic championships in 1976 before being offered a one-off drive with McLaren at the 1977 British Grand Prix. He was taken on by reigning world champions Ferrari for the end of the season - in only his fifth season racing cars - and from 1978 to his death in 1982 drove for the Italian team. He won six Grand Prix races in a short career at the highest level. In 1979 he finished second by four points in the championship to teammate Jody Scheckter.
Villeneuve died in a 140 mph crash with the March of Jochen Mass during practice for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder (see more below). The accident came only two weeks after an intense argument with his team-mate, Didier Pironi, over Pironi's move to pass Villeneuve at Imola. At the time of his death, Villeneuve was extremely popular with fans and with many journalists, on whom his death had a profound effect. Since 1982 he has become an iconic figure in the history of the sport, renowned for his car control and for a 'never give up' attitude. His son, Jacques Villeneuve, became Formula One world champion in 1997.
- "The first time I fired up a car, felt the engine shudder and the wheel come to life in my hands, I was hooked. It was a feeling I can't describe. I still get it every time I get into a race car." – Mario Andretti.
- "You do things, you f**k people, it's racing." – Niki Lauda.
- "It doesn't matter if you're in a wheelchair or have healthy legs. If you have the will to do something, you can get it done. I race the same as anyone else does; I just don't use my feet. And, I never give up." - Evan Evans, the first paraplegic competitor to win a professional off-road racing title.
Did you know...
- Formula racing refers to various forms of racing that use open wheeled single seaters, from Formula One to Formula Ford. Wherever there is motor racing, there will often be some form of formula racing. Some formulae use a single design of chassis and engine, while others allow a lot of technical freedom.
- Stock cars race primarily on oval circuits and are very popular in the United States, where the major championships are run by NASCAR. The cars are built to very strict regulations with "silhouette" body shells that resemble production road car models. Major events include the Daytona 500.
- Touring cars fall into two main categories of machinery based on production road cars. Some classes – such as the World Touring Car Championship – are heavily production-based with limited modifications, while others – like the DTM – use racing chassis and components with bodywork that mimics the equivalent road cars.
- Sports car racing is synonymous with endurance racing, in which two or more drivers share each car during the course of a long race. Races in a series typically last around three to four hours, but there are many one-off events that can last for 12 or even 24 hours or cover a set distance such as 1000km. There are two distinct types of sports cars that often share events (each type being divided into classes). Sports prototypes have mid-engined chassis that are fully enclosed in aerodynamically efficient bodywork. Their cockpits can be open or enclosed in a canopy. Sports prototypes are most closely associated with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and notable examples include the Audi R10 and Porsche 962. GT cars (grand tourers) are production-based sports cars that may be mid-, rear- or front-engined. Notable examples include the Viper GTS-R, the 911 GT2 and the Maserati MC12.
- Kart racing is the first step on the career ladder for most young aspiring drivers. They are constructed with a small, flat chassis, small wheels, a single seat and almost no bodywork. They are powered by small two-stroke engines. Most karting formulae permit entrants as young as seven or eight years old, who will hope to graduate into entry-level single-seater formula racing in their late teens.
- Rallying takes place on closed roads of asphalt, gravel, mud, or snow. The vehicles are usually modified road cars or production-derived, often with 4WD. Events comprise a series of point-to-point time trials in which competitors begin each timed "stage" at intervals. The highest level is the World Rally Championship; notable events include the Dakar Rally.
- Drifting is a relatively recent form of motorsport that originated in Japan. Competitors have to induce a controlled rear-wheel slide during their competition runs and are judged according to a number of criteria. Depending on the nature of the competition, the drivers may perform on track individually or compete together in a form of "race".
- Drag racing is a performance contest between two competitors in similar or identical machinery on a straight dragstrip measuring from 660-1320 ft (201-402 m) in length, on which they accelerate from a standing start. The leading category is Top Fuel, whose engines run on an alcohol-based mixture to produce over 8,000 bhp (6,000 kW). They can cover 1000 ft (305 m) in under 4 seconds with a peak speed exceeding 320 mph (515 kph).