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1976 United States Grand Prix

The 1976 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 10, 1976, at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York. This event was also referred to as the United States Grand Prix East in order to distinguish it from the United States Grand Prix West held on March 28, 1976, in Long Beach, California.

1976 United States Grand Prix
Race 15 of 16 in the 1976 Formula One season
Watkins Glen 1975-1983.png
Race details
Date October 10, 1976
Official name XIX 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 Sunny with temperatures reaching up to 61 °F (16 °C); winds gusting up to 15.9 miles per hour (25.6 km/h)[1]
Pole position
Driver McLaren-Ford
Time 1:43.622
Fastest lap
Driver United Kingdom James Hunt McLaren-Ford
Time 1:42.851 on lap 53
  • United Kingdom James Hunt
Second Tyrrell-Ford
Third Ferrari


Austrian Niki Lauda arrived in the United States for the penultimate race of 1976 with an eight-point lead over Britain's James Hunt in the driver's championship. Lauda had led comfortably with five wins in the season's first nine races, before his life-threatening crash at the Nürburgring in August. Hunt then won three of the next five races, including Germany where Lauda was injured. Lauda recovered to race in Italy and Canada (won by Hunt), but his lead over Hunt in the driver's championship had narrowed considerably.

Friday's first qualifying session saw only a handful of drivers venture out onto a wet race track. When Austrian Otto Stuppacher went out first, there were still streams of water running across in places. McLaren manager Teddy Mayer remarked, "The drivers finished in reverse ratio to the proportion of their IQs."

The rain stopped before the afternoon session began, and after 15 minutes on the still wet track, drivers began changing to slicks. Times dropped quickly on the drying track as driver after driver jumped to the top of the charts, only to fall back down again as the others went faster, too.

Hunt and Patrick Depailler, who was driving one of the six-wheeled Tyrrells, were dueling for top spot, with Depailler following Hunt's McLaren on the track, when the air bottle for the McLaren's compressor starter fell off and hit the Tyrrell's two left front wheels and the monocoque. Both wheels were broken, and even after stopping to replace them, Depailler's steering was out of line, and he could manage only seventh quickest. Later, as Hunt stood in the pits next to a four-foot, 150-pound air bottle, Rob Walker asked, "Was that the one you threw at Depailler?" Hunt answered, "No, we are keeping that one for Niki on Sunday!"

Hunt finished Friday on pole, ahead of Jody Scheckter's Tyrrell, the Marches of Ronnie Peterson and Vittorio Brambilla, and Lauda's Ferrari. Saturday's rain was worse than Friday morning's had been, so the times from Friday afternoon made up the grid. Stuppacher was the only one who failed to qualify.

Overnight, snow fell on the circuit, but the sun came out on Sunday as 100,000 fans, the largest paying crowd ever at The Glen, came out to see the championship battle. At the start, Scheckter jumped ahead of Hunt and led into the first turn. They were followed by Brambilla, Peterson, Lauda, Depailler, John Watson's Penske, the Lotus of Mario Andretti and Jacques Laffite's Ligier.

Scheckter and Hunt began to draw away immediately, with the Tyrrell 2.5 seconds ahead after five laps. After being held up by Brambilla for four laps, Lauda moved into third, 5.8 seconds behind Hunt. Meanwhile, a battle was being waged for fourth among Brambilla, Peterson, Laffite, Carlos Pace, Watson, Clay Regazzoni, Andretti and Jochen Mass. Hans-Joachim Stuck, who had qualified sixth but suffered a slipping clutch on the grid, was working his way forward and had now reached the end of this group.

Further down, on lap 15, the Ensign of Jacky Ickx went wide in Turn 6, a left-hander entering the 'Anvil' section of the course (known among spectators as 'The Boot'). The car suddenly snapped right and hit the Armco barrier head on. The nose went under the bottom rail, and the car split in two with the rear section spinning back onto the track in flames. Ickx stepped out of the wreckage of the cockpit and hobbled to the grass, where he collapsed with injuries to both his legs and ankles. Emerson Fittipaldi, who had been following him, said it was one of the worst accidents he had ever seen, and that he could hear the explosion of the car hitting the barrier above his engine and through his helmet and earplugs. Watson slowed briefly for the wreck, and was passed by Regazzoni and Mass before he got back up to full speed, putting him back to ninth place.

At the front, Scheckter's Tyrrell was losing grip as his fuel load lightened, and Hunt was getting quicker in the chasing McLaren. The gap closed to 1.3 seconds on lap 29, then half a second on lap 30. Finally, on lap 37, Hunt moved inside at the end of the back straight and took the lead. He pulled away by over two seconds in the next two laps, but on lap 41, he missed a gear in the chicane while trying to get around some backmarkers, and Scheckter retook the lead. Hunt passed him again at the end of the straight on lap 46 and held on to claim his sixth win of the season. Six laps from the finish, on lap 53, Hunt set the fastest lap of the race.

Lauda, struggling with oversteer on hard tires in the cold, barely beat Hunt's McLaren teammate Mass to the line to keep his third place. After the race, the Austrian removed his helmet to reveal a balaclava soaked in blood. He claimed four Championship points and still led by three points with one race to go.


Pos No. Driver Constructor Lap Gap
1 11   James Hunt McLaren-Ford 1:43.622
2 3   Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Ford 1:43.870 + 0.248
3 10   Ronnie Peterson March-Ford 1:43.941 + 0.319
4 9   Vittorio Brambilla March-Ford 1:44.250 + 0.628
5 1   Niki Lauda Ferrari 1:44.257 + 0.635
6 34   Hans-Joachim Stuck March-Ford 1:44.265 + 0.643
7 4   Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford 1:44.516 + 0.894
8 28   John Watson Penske-Ford 1:44.719 + 1.097
9 16   Tom Pryce Shadow-Ford 1:45.102 + 1.480
10 8   Carlos Pace Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:45.274 + 1.652
11 5   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 1:45.311 + 1.689
12 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 1:45.324 + 1.702
13 7   Larry Perkins Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:45.363 + 1.741
14 2   Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 1:45.534 + 1.912
15 30   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 1:45.646 + 2.024
16 17   Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Ford 1:45.979 + 2.357
17 12   Jochen Mass McLaren-Ford 1:46.067 + 2.445
18 19   Alan Jones Surtees-Ford 1:46.402 + 2.780
19 22   Jacky Ickx Ensign-Ford 1:46.605 + 2.983
20 6   Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Ford 1:46.776 + 3.154
21 24   Harald Ertl Hesketh-Ford 1:49.418 + 5.796
22 25   Alex Ribeiro Hesketh-Ford 1:49.669 + 6.047
23 21   Warwick Brown Wolf-Williams-Ford 1:51.124 + 7.502
24 18   Brett Lunger Surtees-Ford 1:51.373 + 7.751
25 20   Arturo Merzario Wolf-Williams-Ford 2:00.932 + 17.310
26 38   Henri Pescarolo Surtees-Ford 2:05.211 + 21.589
27 39   Otto Stuppacher Tyrrell-Ford 2:11.070 + 27.448


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 11   James Hunt McLaren-Ford 59 1:42:40.742 1 9
2 3   Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Ford 59 + 8.030 2 6
3 1   Niki Lauda Ferrari 59 + 1:02.324 5 4
4 12   Jochen Mass McLaren-Ford 59 + 1:02.458 17 3
5 34   Hans-Joachim Stuck March-Ford 59 + 1:07.978 6 2
6 28   John Watson Penske-Ford 59 + 1:08.190 8 1
7 2   Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 58 + 1 Lap 14  
8 19   Alan Jones Surtees-Ford 58 + 1 Lap 18  
9 30   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 15  
10 17   Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 16  
11 18   Brett Lunger Surtees-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 24  
12 25   Alex Ribeiro Hesketh-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 22  
13 24   Harald Ertl Hesketh-Ford 54 + 5 Laps 21  
14 21   Warwick Brown Wolf-Williams-Ford 54 + 5 Laps 23  
NC 38   Henri Pescarolo Surtees-Ford 48 + 11 Laps 26  
Ret 16   Tom Pryce Shadow-Ford 45 Engine 9  
Ret 9   Vittorio Brambilla March-Ford 34 Tyre 12  
Ret 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 34 Tyre 4  
Ret 8   Carlos Pace Brabham-Alfa Romeo 31 Collision 10  
Ret 7   Larry Perkins Brabham-Alfa Romeo 30 Suspension 13  
Ret 5   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 23 Suspension 11  
Ret 22   Jacky Ickx Ensign-Ford 14 Accident 19  
Ret 6   Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Ford 13 Engine 20  
Ret 10   Ronnie Peterson March-Ford 12 Suspension 3  
Ret 20   Arturo Merzario Wolf-Williams-Ford 9 Accident 25  
Ret 4   Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford 7 Fuel Pipe 7  
DNQ 39   Otto Stuppacher Tyrrell-Ford     -  


  • Lauda's third place clinched the Constructor's Championship for Ferrari with one race left.
  • Last race: Henri Pescarolo
  • This was the first and only Formula One race for Australian racing driver Warwick Brown.

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 7 results from the last 8 races counted towards the Championship. Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.


  1. ^ "Weather information for the 1976 United States Grand Prix". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "1976 USA East Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "United States 1976 - 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
  • Rob Walker (January, 1977). "18th United States Grand Prix: An Evening At The Glen". Road & Track, 81-84.

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1976 Canadian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1976 season
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1976 Japanese Grand Prix
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1975 United States Grand Prix
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1977 United States Grand Prix