1969 United States Grand Prix

The 1969 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 5, 1969, at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York. It was race 10 of 11 in both the 1969 World Championship of Drivers and the 1969 International Cup for Formula One Manufacturers. The 108-lap race was won by Lotus driver Jochen Rindt after he started from pole position. Piers Courage finished second for the Brabham team and BRM driver John Surtees came in third.

1969 United States Grand Prix
Watkins Glen International Track Map-1960-1970.svg
Race details
Date October 5, 1969
Official name XII United States Grand Prix
Location Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course
Watkins Glen, New York
Course Permanent road course
Course length 3.78 km (2.35 miles)
Distance 108 laps, 408.2 km (253.8 miles)
Weather Dry with temperatures reaching up to 18 °C (64 °F);
Wind speeds up to 18.70 km/h (11.62 mph)[1]
Pole position
Driver Lotus-Ford
Time 1:03.62
Fastest lap
Driver Austria Jochen Rindt Lotus-Ford
Time 1:04.34 on lap 69
  • Austria Jochen Rindt
Second Brabham-Ford
Third BRM
Lap leaders


Qualifying classificationEdit

Pos. Driver Constructor Time No
1 Jochen Rindt Lotus-Ford 1:03.62 1
2 Denis Hulme McLaren-Ford 1:03.65 2
3 Jackie Stewart Matra-Ford 1:03.77 3
4 Graham Hill Lotus-Ford 1:04.05 4
5 Jo Siffert Lotus-Ford 1:04.06 5
6 Bruce McLaren McLaren-Ford 1:04.22 6
7 Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra-Ford 1:04.29 7
8 Jacky Ickx Brabham-Ford 1:04.32 8
9 Piers Courage Brabham-Ford 1:04.58 9
10 Jack Brabham Brabham-Ford 1:04.80 10
11 John Surtees B.R.M. 1:05.06 11
12 Pedro Rodríguez Ferrari 1:05.94 12
13 Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 1:06.52 13
14 Jackie Oliver B.R.M. 1:06.55 14
15 Johnny Servoz-Gavin Matra-Ford 1:07.13 15
16 Pete Lovely Lotus-Ford 1:07.55 16
17 Silvio Moser Brabham-Ford 1:08.20 17
18 George Eaton B.R.M. 1:11.27 18



Jochen Rindt survived an early duel with newly crowned Champion and close friend Jackie Stewart and claimed his first Grand Prix victory, the first ever by an Austrian. Piers Courage finished second, driving a Frank Williams-prepared Brabham and out-racing Jack Brabham himself and Jacky Ickx in the works Brabhams. John Surtees took third place at The Glen for the second straight year, this time in a BRM.

After five wins in his first four seasons, Jackie Stewart won five of the first six races in 1969, and his first Driver's Championship was already in his pocket when the teams came to North America for the final three races.

Jochen Rindt, on the other hand, had flirted with his first victory throughout the season, his first with Lotus, but without success. He had started on the pole four times, led in five of the nine races, and taken back-to-back podiums in the two preceding races in Italy and Canada.

Also driving for Lotus were the previous year's Champion, Graham Hill, and American Mario Andretti, making just his third F1 appearance of the season. Andretti was doing his best with the controversial and soon-to-be-abandoned four-wheel-drive Type 63, while Hill and Rindt were in standard 49Bs.

Friday practice was wet and virtually meaningless, except that it showed the four-wheel-drive Matra and Lotus cars had little or no advantage even in the rain, and the concept quickly disappeared from modern GP racing. Saturday was dry, however, and Rindt won the battle for pole, his fifth of the season, beating Denny Hulme's McLaren by three-hundredths in the last fifteen minutes of the session. The rest of the top six were Stewart, Hill, Jo Siffert (in a Rob Walker-entered Lotus) and Bruce McLaren.

On Sunday, before a crowd of over 100,000, Rindt jumped into the lead at the start, while Hulme struggled with a bent gear linkage and lost places to Stewart and Hill. Andretti charged ahead from his thirteenth-place grid position, and, when Brabham slowed to avoid Hulme, Andretti bumped rear wheels with the Brabham, knocking the Lotus sideways. Andretti continued for three laps, but his suspension was bent, and he retired. At the end of the first lap, the order was Rindt, Stewart, Hill, Siffert, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Courage and Ickx.

As they had many times during the season, Rindt and Stewart quickly separated themselves from the rest of the field. On lap 12, Rindt slid wide and allowed Stewart through. The Matra's engine was not running at full strength, however, and it was all Stewart could do to hold off the Austrian, who was bobbing and weaving on both sides, trying to get by. Rindt finally got past on the straight on lap 21, and eventually, the Scot began to fall back.

On lap 33, Stewart's car emitted a puff of smoke, and the next time around, he coasted down the pit lane with no oil pressure. Rindt now led a group of three Brabhams, with Courage ahead of the two works entries of Ickx and Brabham, by 37 seconds. On lap 62, Brabham got by Ickx and began hounding Courage. Several times, the Australian managed to pull alongside, but could not complete the pass. Ickx dropped out of the three-way fight on lap 78 when he suddenly lost oil pressure and pulled to the side of the track.

Rindt was content to maintain his cushion over Courage and Brabham, and tried not to think about all the times he had led before and not won. On lap 88, Hill spun off the track on a patch of oil and stalled. He unfastened his straps, got out of the car and push-started it, but could not refasten his belts alone. His off-track excursion had apparently punctured a rear tire, and he signaled the pit to get ready to change it. Before he made it back around, however, the tire exploded at the end of the straight and sent the Lotus cartwheeling into an embankment. Hill was thrown from the car and suffered broken bones in both legs. Later, at the hospital, he was asked by team members if he had a message to pass along to his wife. Hill replied, "Just tell her that I won't be dancing for two weeks." Hill's accident was witnessed by two fifteen-year-old boys from nearby Montrose, Pennsylvania, John Moore and Kevin Hibbard. Their eyewitness account stated that "It looked like the crash was unsurvivable. We thought he had definitely been killed."

Brabham had to break off his pursuit of Courage when his engine began sputtering for lack of fuel, and he was forced to pit on lap 93, allowing Surtees to get through into third place. Rindt crossed the line 46 seconds ahead of Courage with his long-awaited and well-deserved first win. He said, "It is just that the car held together for once, but this one makes up for all the others I have lost." Once again, the American race offered a record purse, and the total of $206,000 included $50,000 for the winner.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2   Jochen Rindt Lotus-Ford 108 1:57:56.84 1 9
2 18   Piers Courage Brabham-Ford 108 + 46.99 9 6
3 14   John Surtees BRM 106 + 2 Laps 11 4
4 8   Jack Brabham Brabham-Ford 106 + 2 Laps 10 3
5 12   Pedro Rodríguez Ferrari 101 + 7 Laps 12 2
6 19   Silvio Moser Brabham-Ford 98 + 10 Laps 17 1
NC 16   Johnny Servoz-Gavin Matra-Ford 92 Not Classified 15  
Ret 1   Graham Hill Lotus-Ford 90 Accident 4  
Ret 7   Jacky Ickx Brabham-Ford 77 Engine 8  
Ret 22   George Eaton BRM 76 Engine 18  
Ret 4   Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra-Ford 72 Engine 7  
Ret 5   Denny Hulme McLaren-Ford 52 Gearbox 2  
Ret 3   Jackie Stewart Matra-Ford 35 Engine 3  
Ret 21   Pete Lovely Lotus-Ford 25 Halfshaft 16  
Ret 15   Jackie Oliver BRM 23 Engine 14  
Ret 10   Jo Siffert Lotus-Ford 3 Fuel System 5  
Ret 9   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 3 Suspension 13  
DNS 6   Bruce McLaren McLaren-Ford 0 Engine 6  

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only the best 5 results from the first 6 rounds and the best 4 results from the last 5 rounds counted towards the Championship. Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.


  1. ^ "Weather information for the "1969 United States Grand Prix"". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  2. ^ "1969 United States Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "United States 1969 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Doug Nye (1978). The United States Grand Prix and Grand Prize Races, 1908-1977. B. T. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-1263-1
  • Rob Walker (January, 1970). "Eleventh Grand Prix of the U.S.: Promise Fulfilled". Road & Track, 30-34.

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