The one-off Grand Prix tracks

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Keke Rosberg won the only race at Dallas in 1984

Fuji Speedway is to disappear from the F1 calendar once again. Despite a multi-million pounds upgrade ahead of its reintroduction in 2007, its return last a mere two races.

But there are venues whose acquaintance with F1 was even more fleeting. Ten tracks held just a single race each and do not look likely to reappear soon. Here are Formula 1’s one-off venues.

Pescara, Italy (1957)
Winner: Stirling Moss

The 25th running of the Gran Premio di Pescara was also its only appearance on the world championship calendar. It is the longest circuit ever to hold a Grand Prix – and also the part of Italy Jarno Trulli hails from.

Pescara was the last of the classic road races to appear in F1, using closed-off public roads that blasted along the sea front, through the town and up into the mountains. By the late 1950s, permanent racing facilities were increasingly the norm.

The drivers faced 18 laps of the 25.57km (15.89 mile) track. Juan Manuel Fangio took pole position with a time of 9’44.6, 10 seconds faster than Stirling Moss, the pair the only ones to lap beneath the ten-minute mark in practice. Moss won the race from Fangio, all the while wondering whether the Argentinean driver was going to mount another comeback of the type that stunned Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins at the Nurburgring two weeks earlier.

More about Pescara

Ain Diab, Casablanca, Morocco
Winner: Stirling Moss

This was international motor racing’s last visit to Morocco until the World Touring Car Championship raced there (on a different circuit) this year. Morocco held its only Grand Prix in 1958, shortly after having declared its independence.

A high-speed coastal circuit in Ain Diab played host to the 1958 season finale, where the title was won by Mike Hawthorn, after being handed second place by team mate Phil Hill. Rival Stirling Moss was forced to accept the runner-up spot in the championship. He was also left grieving, after Vanwall team mate Stewart Lewis-Evans crashed and suffered terrible burns from which he died six days later.

More about Ain-Diab

AVUS (Automobil Verkehrs und ?�?�bungsstrasse), Germany, 1959
Winner: Tony Brooks

The bizarre AVUS circuit was no more than the parallel sections of a dual carriageway joined by a couple of hairpins. It has been used extensively before World War Two, but after it the encroachment of Soviet-occupied Germany forced the shortening of the track.

During its sole world championship race weekend in 1959 Jean Behra was killed in a support race when he flew off one of the high banks. The circuit remained in use until the 1990s as a venue for Germany’s popular touring car championship. But this gigantic crash which forced the abandonment of a DTM race in 1995 showed the dangers of continuing to race at the track:

Later that year Kieth O’dor was killed in a touring car crash at the circuit, and before the decade was out racing at AVUS was finished for good.

More about AVUS

Monsanto Park, (1959)
Winner: Stirling Moss

Peculiarly, three of the ten one-off races appeared on the calendar in 1959. The circuit at Monsanto in Portugal looped through a nearby park (much like Albert Park does today).

During the race eventual champion Jack Brabham suffered a nasty accident: he hit a telegraph pole trying to avoid a wayward car, and was flung onto the track. Team mate Masten Gregory arrived on the scene and narrowly missed hitting him. Gregory went on to finish second behind winner Moss.

More about Monsanto Park

Sebring, United States (1959)
Winner: Bruce McLaren

Venue of the first United States Grand Prix, the course around the Sebring airfield was the setting for the 1959 title-decider. And what an event it was, with Brabham securing the title after pushing his Cooper over the line to claim fourth place.

The race was won by Bruce McLaren, setting a new record as the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix, which stood until Fernando Alonso won the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2003.

The track remains in use today for sports car races, notably the Sebring 12 Hours which kicks off the American Le Mans Series.

More about Sebring

Riverside, United States (1960)
Winner: Stirling Moss

The only F1 race held at Riverside in California was run after Jack Brabham had already wrapped up the championship. This was a blow for the organisers, particularly as Ferrari chose not to compete.

But there was some local interest. Phil Hill, without a Ferrari to drive, procured a Cooper for the race. And the American Scarab recorded its only Grand Prix finish, driven by Chuck Daigh.

After its one-off F1 race the rough, bumpy Riverside course held Indy Car, NASCAR and sports car races. But the circuit is no more: in the 1990s it was sold to property developers, bulldozed, and the land is now occupied by a shopping mall.

More about Riverside

Zeltweg , Austria (1964)
Winner: Lorenzo Bandini

The first venue for the Austrian Grand Prix was another airfield circuit. Short (less than two miles long), flat and slow, it wasn’t popular. Once the F1 teams discovered the nearby Osterreichingring – longer, very quick and undulating – Zeltweg’s fate was sealed.

Lorenzo Bandini won the race – his only win for Ferrari – while the bumpy service proved the undoing of rivals such as John Surtees (Ferrari, broken suspension) and Dan Gurney (Brabham, ditto). Richie Ginther was the only other driver to complete all 105 tours, the rest at least three laps in arrears.

More about Zeltweg

Le Mans Bugatti, France (1967)
Winner: Jack Brabham

It had little of the character of the long and hugely quick La Sarthe circuit which holds the 24 Hour race. And so the shorter Bugatti circuit proved an unpopular alternative to the likes of Rouen and Clermont-Ferrand when it held its sole F1 race in 1967.

A thin field of 15 cars arrived for the race, which was decided when the leading Lotuses of Graham Hill and Jim Clark expired (not an unusual sight in 1967), letting Brabham through to win.

More about Le Mans Bugatti

Dallas, United States (1984)
Winner: Keke Rosberg

The single race at Dallas in 1984 is always remembered for being run in searing summer heat on a decaying surface. Only seven cars were still circulating at the end, led home by Keke Rosberg, who had sussed the conditions and bought himself a water-cooled skull cap.

An eighth, Nigel Mansell’s Lotus, which had briefly led, expired within sight of the line. Mimicking Brabham some 25 years earlier, Mansell pushed the car towards the line, but failed to reach it and collapsed with typical theatrical effect.

Forgiving it its granular surface, the track (by street circuit standards) wasn’t too bad – reasonably wide, with some quick corners, places to overtake and lacking the 90-degree monotony of Phoenix. But when the race organiser skipped town with the profits it became clear F1 wouldn’t be going back.

More about Dallas

Since then three other circuits have held a single F1 race but are scheduled to hold more in the future: Valencia and Singapore (this year) and Donington Park (in 2010).

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “The one-off Grand Prix tracks”

  1. Hope we go back to Sebring!

    1. F1 Outsider
      9th July 2009, 21:43

      Although I live close to Sebring and would love to see F1 close by…

      Sebring as it is today would tear F1 cars to pieces from all the bumps.

  2. What’s with Stirling Moss winning so many of the one off races???? Like he made sure he had to win cos they were not going to be used again.

    1. very funny, that a finnish driver keke won at dallas. it was one of the most hottest days 7 will be famously remembered for poor old nige fainting while pushing his car to the finish line. finns imo cannot withstand exposure to sunlight & i dunno how keke managed to win!

      1. oops 7=&

  3. I think the only tracks we want to be used now are SEBRING and LEMANS circuit.

    1. I definitely don’t want F1 at Sebring. F1 would ruin the track, and I love sportscars too much for that to happen.

  4. I was cruising my RSS reader having just read an American Football article and I thought this headline was “The one-off Grand Prix Tackles”. Now that would make for a good article =)

  5. Estevão Casé
    9th July 2009, 22:45

    I’ve been following this blog for sometime now and I just remembered that some time ago someone posted a video of that Dallas GP. It’s really amazing what Keke does there!

    if anyone wants to check it out here is the utube link once again!


    ps: Can’t wait for Nurburgring !!!

  6. AVUS is MENTAL!!!

  7. Avus 1959: There’s a famous photo of Hans Hermann crouching on the ground looking up at his cartwheeling BRM about ten feet up in the air….doesn’t say what he was thinking!

    Sorry I don’t have a link to it.

  8. Terry Fabulous
    9th July 2009, 23:58

    Keith if you can excuse me for trying to be an Anorak for a moment.

    Hasn’t Donnington Park only held the one GP in 1993?

    I know it is scheduled to hold another ten or so starting from next year, but I am pushing for any chance to laud Ayrton Senna in the wet!!

    1. Terry Fabulous
      10th July 2009, 1:32

      By the way, I love this article.
      It has always fascintated me why F1 hasn’t given a Dallas another rip. The track looked pretty good and other then the organisation, it seemed like a great idea.

      1. Estevão Casé
        10th July 2009, 1:33

        and that one race was really incredible!

      2. It would be quite unique- the weather down there means it could be held early or late in the season, so it would be a flexable option. Someone obviously needs to step up and put it together though, so I woulden’t hold my breath.

    2. Last paragraph, Terry! :-)

      1. Terry Fabulous
        10th July 2009, 12:25

        I’m such an idiot.

        Have a good weekend Keith!

  9. The sri lankan
    10th July 2009, 1:01

    what about Aida?

  10. Aidi had two ’94 & ’95
    Great article! I’ve raced a few of these in sim racing :)

    1. OMG !!!

  11. Great article- I knew about some of these but was always lacking on details.

    I knew about the race in Dallas for some time, but never knew that it ran around the Texas State Fairground. Looking at the Google Images map provided on Keith’s link, the track apparently ran next to the Cotton Bowl (one of America’s most historic football stadiums) as well as the famous “Big Tex” cowboy statue.

    If they ran Dallas early in the season it would have been pretty good, with good climates for the event. Same in the fall, although the Texas State Fair fires up for much of September, and once American-rules football season starts in late August, everything else going on in the world pretty much becomes irrelavent in Texas ;)

    In the end, Dallas is similar to the three-year stint in Phoenix: could have been much better, but some key mistakes sealed it’s fate.

  12. Excellent research!

    Would love to see some more one-off races. Perhaps a “wildcard” race every year, but I’m sure it’s financially infeasible. It would be a good method to test new markets for F1 too.

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