Open main menu

1974 United States Grand Prix

The 1974 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 6, 1974, at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York. It was race 15 of 15 in both the 1974 World Championship of Drivers and the 1974 International Cup for Formula One Manufacturers.[1]

1974 United States Grand Prix
Watkins Glen International Track Map-1970-1980.svg
Race details
Date October 6, 1974
Official name XVII United States Grand Prix
Location Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course
Watkins Glen, New York
Course Permanent road course
Course length 5.435 km (3.377 mi)
Distance 59 laps, 320.67 km (199.24 mi)
Weather Clear, warm
Pole position
Driver Brabham-Ford
Time 1:38.978
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Carlos Pace Brabham-Ford
Time 1:40.608 on lap 54
  • Argentina Carlos Reutemann
  • Brazil Carlos Pace
Third Hesketh-Ford

This was the last race for the 1967 world champion Denny Hulme, who scored 8 wins and 33 podiums in 112 starts. The race also saw the death of Austrian driver Helmuth Koinigg, who was driving in only his second Grand Prix.

Qualifying summaryEdit

Carlos Reutemann won from the pole, ahead of Brabham teammate Carlos Pace, while Emerson Fittipaldi's fourth place clinched his second World Championship in three years and the first for Team McLaren. American Mario Andretti, after qualifying in an excellent third position, was disqualified when the engine in his Parnelli stalled on the grid and his crew push started him.

Emerson Fittipaldi of McLaren and Ferrari's Clay Regazzoni came to the final race of the season even in the Driver's Championship standings with 52 points; Tyrrell's Jody Scheckter, with 45 points, also held an outside chance of overtaking them both. Knowing that tactics could play an important role in the race, McLaren had the two-way radios from their USAC team fitted in the F1 cars at Watkins Glen.

Early in the year, Peter Revson, one of only five American drivers to win a Grand Prix, had died in a testing crash, but the American crowd had countrymen Mario Andretti and Mark Donohue at The Glen to carry the star-spangled banner, and they were both driving American-built cars for American teams.

Andretti gave the home crowd a charge when he was fastest on Friday in the British-designed, California-built Vel's Parnelli Jones car, just two weeks after its Canadian debut. His time of 1:39.209 still had him on the provisional pole halfway through Saturday's session, when a rear brake failure put him off and damaged the nose and steering. By the time Andretti returned to the track, with ten minutes left in the session, Reutemann and Hunt had pipped him and he would start third.

Donohue, in the second race for the Penske First National City Travelers Checks Special, made less of a splash, as his lack of experience with the car made setup difficult. He and Penske were both pleased, however, with his 14th position in final qualifying.

Scheckter was the top qualifying championship contender, in sixth, with Fittipaldi directly behind him in eighth and Regazzoni in ninth. Sunday was a glorious day, clear and warm. On the parade lap, Andretti developed an ignition fault, and the start was delayed 25 minutes while the crew scrambled to solve the problem. Finally, Mario took his place on the grid, but when starter Tex Hopkins dropped the green flag, the Parnelli car sat still, and the field had to scramble to avoid him. His crew eventually got the car push started two laps late, but Andretti was black-flagged for getting assistance on the course.

Race start through lap 9Edit

From the start, Reutemann led James Hunt, Pace, Niki Lauda, Scheckter, Fittipaldi and Regazzoni. Gradually, the gap between Reutemann and Hunt widened, and by the end of the third lap, it was clear that all was not right with Regazzoni, as a train was forming behind the Ferrari. Lauda, in fourth and just ahead of Scheckter and Fittipaldi, began to do his part in the Championship battle by holding them up for his teammate, the struggling Regazzoni, whose front end was heaving and wallowing with a defective damper.

Lap 10 fatal accidentEdit

On lap 10, the Surtees of Austrian Helmuth Koinigg, in just his second Grand Prix, went off in the hairpin turn 7 where Regazzoni, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Andretti had crashed in practice. Koinigg's car suffered a suspension failure pitching it head-on into the Armco barrier, as in François Cevert's fatal crash at The Glen one year earlier. The speed at which Koinigg crashed was relatively minor, and he ought to have escaped the scene uninjured. However, as with a number of other circuits at that time, the Armco was insecurely installed and the bottom portion of it buckled as the vehicle struck it. The car passed underneath the top portion, which remained intact, leaving the young driver with no chance as it decapitated Koinigg, killing him instantly.

Lap 15 through finishEdit

On lap 15, Regazzoni pitted in desperation, but a tire change didn't improve his car. The Ferrari pit now told Lauda to go on, and he quickly pulled 2.5 seconds clear of Scheckter. Fittipaldi made half-hearted attempts to outbrake the Tyrrell, but, with Regazzoni out of the picture, he knew that if he could stay close, the Championship would be his.

Beginning on lap 24, a faulty shock absorber slowed Lauda, and he was caught by the group of cars he had left behind. Regazzoni pitted again, as the crew adjusted the rear anti-roll bar, but the Ferrari challenge was crumbling. When Lauda came in on lap 38, the crew discovered the offending shock absorber; when the Austrian also learned of his countryman's death, he gave up the chase.

Insistent on fighting to the end, Scheckter continued to hold fourth, ahead of Fittipaldi, throwing the Tyrrell around in opposite lock slides, as the McLaren clung to his gearbox. On the 44th lap, Scheckter's engine suddenly lost fuel pressure when a feed pipe broke. He coasted to a stop as Fittipaldi slashed by, knowing that a second World Championship in three years was his.

After the race, Scheckter admitted that he knew he was holding Fittipaldi up. "But I didn't think he should pass, although he was being pushed from behind by Arturo Merzario. He tried three times to outbrake me, but I wouldn't let him get away with it." With Scheckter out, McLaren also clinched its first Constructors' Championship, ten years after Bruce McLaren and Teddy Mayer had founded the team.

At the front, Reutemann was in no trouble. Hunt, however, was struggling with fading brakes, and Pace, in third with the second works Brabham, was ready to pounce. When he saw his opportunity, he set the race's fastest lap just five laps from the finish, and on the next lap, he took second place from the ailing Hesketh of Hunt, completing a 1–2 for Brabham.

The red and white uniforms of the McLaren crew mobbed the circuit to honor their World Champion, the Brabham team celebrated their victors, and the crowd – especially the Brazilians among them – poured over the fences and jammed the pit area. The win was the 100th for the Cosworth Ford engine in Formula One, but for the second year in a row at the Glen, it was tragically flawed by the death of a promising young driver. It was also the last US driving appearance of two-time World Champion and three-time USGP winner Graham Hill, who finished eighth in his own Embassy Hill Lola.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 7   Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Ford 59 1:40:21.439 1 9
2 8   Carlos Pace Brabham-Ford 59 + 10.735 4 6
3 24   James Hunt Hesketh-Ford 59 + 1:10.384 2 4
4 5   Emerson Fittipaldi McLaren-Ford 59 + 1:17.753 8 3
5 28   John Watson Brabham-Ford 59 + 1:25.804 7 2
6 4   Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford 59 + 1:27.506 13 1
7 33   Jochen Mass McLaren-Ford 59 + 1:30.012 20  
8 26   Graham Hill Lola-Ford 58 + 1 Lap 24  
9 15   Chris Amon BRM 57 + 2 Laps 12  
10 17   Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 10  
11 11   Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 55 + 4 Laps 9  
12 27   Rolf Stommelen Lola-Ford 54 + 5 Laps 21  
Ret 1   Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford 52 Fuel System 19  
NC 22   Mike Wilds Ensign-Ford 50 Not Classified 22  
NC 16   Tom Pryce Shadow-Ford 47 Not Classified 18  
Ret 3   Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Ford 44 Fuel System 6  
Ret 20   Arturo Merzario Iso-Marlboro-Ford 43 Electrical 15  
Ret 12   Niki Lauda Ferrari 38 Suspension 5  
Ret 21   Jacques Laffite Iso-Marlboro-Ford 31 Engine 11  
Ret 66   Mark Donohue Penske-Ford 27 Suspension 14  
WD 18   José Dolhem Surtees-Ford 25 Withdrew 26  
Ret 10   Vittorio Brambilla March-Ford 21 Fuel System 25  
Ret 19   Helmuth Koinigg Surtees-Ford 9 Fatal Accident 23  
Ret 2   Jacky Ickx Lotus-Ford 7 Suspension 16  
DSQ 31   Tim Schenken Lotus-Ford 6 Entered Race Illegally 27  
DSQ 55   Mario Andretti Parnelli-Ford 4 Push Start 3  
Ret 6   Denny Hulme McLaren-Ford 4 Engine 17  
DNQ 9   Hans Joachim Stuck March-Ford    
DNQ 42   Ian Ashley Brabham-Ford    
DNQ 14   Jean-Pierre Beltoise BRM        


  • Three drivers went into the final round with a chance of winning the championship, for the first time in 10 years.
    • Emerson Fittipaldi (52pts) needed either:
      • To finish 4th, and ahead of Regazzoni
      • To finish 5th or 6th, with Scheckter 2nd or lower and Regazzoni behind him.
      • To finish out of the points, with Scheckter 2nd or lower and Regazzoni out of the points.
    • Clay Regazzoni (52pts) needed either:
      • To finish 3rd, and ahead of Fittipaldi
      • To finish 5th or 6th, with Scheckter 2nd or lower and Fittipaldi behind him
    • Jody Scheckter (45pts) needed either:
      • 1st, with Regazzoni 4th or lower and Fittipaldi 5th or lower
  • McLaren-Ford and Ferrari went into this round with a chance of winning the Constructors' Championship.
    • McLaren-Ford (69pts) needed either:
      • 2nd or higher
      • 3rd, with the top Ferrari 2nd or lower
      • The top Ferrari 3rd or lower
    • Ferrari (65pts) needed either:
      • 1st with the top McLaren 3rd or lower
      • 2nd, with the top McLaren 6th or lower
  • Tim Schenken was disqualified due to taking the start despite not qualifying for the race (he set the 27th fastest time in qualifying, while only 26 cars qualified for the race).
  • It was the first time that both Brabham drivers scored a 1-2 finish since the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix.
  • It was also the final time that three drivers went into the final round with a chance of winning the championship until the 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix.

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only the best 7 results from the first 8 races and the best 6 results from the last 7 races counted towards the Championship. Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.


  1. ^ "1974 United States Grand Prix Entry list". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "1974 United States Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 18 Jan 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "United States 1974 - Championship • STATS F1". 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
  • "16th U.S. Grand Prix: Reutemann Wins, Fittipaldi Is Champion". (January, 1975). Road & Track, 108-111.

Previous race:
1974 Canadian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1974 season
Next race:
1975 Argentine Grand Prix
Previous race:
1973 United States Grand Prix
United States Grand Prix Next race:
1975 United States Grand Prix