1980 United States Grand Prix West

The 1980 United States Grand Prix West (officially the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach[2]) was a Formula One motor race held on March 30, 1980, at Long Beach, California. It was the fourth round of the 1980 Formula One season. The race was the fifth United States Grand Prix West and the sixth street race to be held at Long Beach. The race was held over 80 laps of the 3.251-kilometre circuit for a total race distance of 260 kilometres.

1980 United States Grand Prix West
Race 4 of 14 in the 1980 Formula One season
Long Beach 1978.jpg
Race details
Date March 30, 1980
Official name Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Location Long Beach, California
Course Temporary street course
Course length 3.251 km (2.02 mi)
Distance 80 laps, 260.08 km (161.60 mi)
Weather Sunny and warm with temperatures reaching up to 81 °F (27 °C); wind speeds up to 10.9 miles per hour (17.5 km/h)[1]
Pole position
Driver Brabham-Ford
Time 1:17.694
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford
Time 1:19.83 on lap 38
First Brabham-Ford
Second Arrows-Ford
Third Fittipaldi-Ford
Lap leaders

The race was won by Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet driving a Brabham BT49. It was Piquet's debut World Championship victory in just his fourth points finish and announced his emergence as a championship contender. Piquet won by 49 seconds over Italian driver Riccardo Patrese driving an Arrows A3. It was the best result for both Arrows and Patrese in two years after Patrese finished second at the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix. Third was Brazilian driver, twice-World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi driving a Fittipaldi F7. It was Fittipaldi's best result since finishing second at the 1978 Brazilian Grand Prix.


Nelson Piquet took pole, fastest lap and his first career race win to dominate the weekend in his gleaming blue and white Brabham. The Brazilian's qualifying time was a full second ahead of the rest of the field, and he led all 80 laps of the race to win by 49 seconds and grab a share of the lead in the Drivers' Championship. The race would be the last in Formula One for Swiss driver Clay Regazzoni, who suffered spinal damage when he lost the brakes in his Ensign and struck a parked car followed by a concrete barrier at 150 mph (240 km/h).

In Friday qualifying, Frenchman Didier Pironi recorded the fastest time, but getting a good lap on Saturday was a matter of using the soft qualifying tires at the right time and slotting in a good time before the track became too oily. Piquet was easily the fastest man on the circuit, using Goodyear tires, but Championship leader René Arnoux grabbed second place in his Renault with an early run on soft Michelins. The big surprise, however, was Jan Lammers, who put his ATS in fourth position while subbing for the injured Marc Surer. James Hunt nearly made a comeback with McLaren, asking for $1 million for the race. This opportunity came about when French rookie driver Alain Prost broke his wrist during practice for the South African Grand Prix, and was not fully fit to drive at Long Beach. The team's main sponsor, Marlboro, offered half the figure but negotiations ended after Hunt broke his leg while skiing. Stephen South substituted but South failed to qualify. Pironi slipped to ninth by the end of the session, while the Ferraris of Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter, so dominant here the year before, struggled to 10th and 16th, and Emerson Fittipaldi just managed to scramble onto the grid in the 24th and final spot. Americans Mario Andretti (Lotus) and Eddie Cheever (Osella), in his first full F1 season, were 15th and 19th.

The only mis-step of Piquet's weekend came in the Sunday morning warmup when he and Derek Daly collided entering the corner after the pits. The Brabham was vaulted into the air and landed heavily on all four tires, while Daly's Tyrrell went down the escape road. After careful examination, the Brabham crew decided that the car was fine and ready to race.

Entering the first corner Ricardo Zunino, Andretti, Jochen Mass and Jean-Pierre Jarier all made contact under braking. Zunino's Brabham and Andretti's Lotus were unable to continue. After one lap, Piquet led Patrick Depailler, who had gotten by René Arnoux in the hairpin. They were followed by Alan Jones, Bruno Giacomelli, Riccardo Patrese, Carlos Reutemann, Villeneuve and Daly.

On lap 4, Giacomelli lost control of his Alfa Romeo under braking for the hairpin at the beginning of Shoreline Drive, and slid sideways across the racing line. Reutemann, following directly behind, was the first to be collected. Jody Scheckter, Elio de Angelis, Cheever and Jarier also became involved. According to Reutemann, while Giacomelli's Alfa was facing the inside wall, he let a few cars pass, and then put his car in reverse, and backed onto the racing line, and Reutemann had to come to a dead stop to avoid hitting the Italian's Alfa, and then Giacomelli, realizing he had made a mistake, went back to where he was. By the time Giacomelli had realized what had happened, the 5 other aforementioned cars including Reutemann had created an accordion effect; although Reutemann and Scheckter had not hit anything, de Angelis (who was injured), Cheever and Jarier had crashed, the latter most seriously; a wheel ripped off Jarier's Tyrrell and he went into the run-off area. The marshals decided to move forward Giacomelli and Cheever were able to continue for the time being, though both retired later in the race, and Reutemann had retired soon afterwards with gearbox problems. Fittipaldi just managed to squeeze through the carnage, and the marshals somehow got the track cleared before the leaders came around, avoiding a red flag to stop the race.

While Piquet continued to run unchallenged in front, Depailler was struggling with fading brakes on his Alfa Romeo. On lap 18, Jones caught and passed him on the outside of the hairpin to take second place. Meanwhile, Giacomelli was working his way back up through the field ahead of an extended battle between Regazzoni, Fittipaldi and John Watson. Gilles Villeneuve had managed to get the ill handling Ferrari into a good fourth place but his transmission failed on lap 46 and he was out of the race.

After pitting for tires on lap 47, Giacomelli rejoined in 12th place, just ahead of Jones, but about to be lapped by the Williams for the second time. As Jones moved inside to pass the Italian entering the hairpin at the end of the straight, Giacomelli turned in and Jones struck the Alfa Romeo's rear wheel, bending the steering arm on the Williams and putting Jones out of the race. This left Piquet with a lead of more than a minute over Patrese and Arnoux, and he began to ease off, allowing some cars to unlap themselves.

Lap 50 saw a horrific accident which would ultimately end the career of Clay Regazzoni, the brakes on his Ensign N180 car failed on the long start finish straight, unable to reduce speed, he hit the stationary Brabham of Ricardo Zunino which had been left at the run off of the hairpin since lap 1, and then head on into a concrete wall. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Regazzoni later sued the race organisers, but lost the case.[3]

On lap 63, Arnoux had his right rear tire go completely flat, and by the time he was able to make it back to the pits for a replacement, he had dropped all the way to ninth place. Watson now began to challenge Fittipaldi for third, and even get around him briefly, but gearbox troubles allowed the Brazilian to retake the position and then pull away. Watson, in fact, came under fire from Scheckter's Ferrari. Braking into the hairpin, Scheckter tried to go around the outside, as Watson defended the inside line. He slid wide on the dirt and marbles, however, and thereafter, decided to settle for 5th place and his final points in Formula One.

For Piquet, it was the first of 23 career wins and pulled him even with Arnoux in the Drivers' Championship. For Fittipaldi, who finished third behind a steady Patrese in the Arrows, it was his first podium in more than two years, and the last of his F1 career (both as a driver and as a constructor). The torch was passed from one Brazilian multiple World Champion to another.



Pos No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 5   Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford 1:17.694 -
2 16   René Arnoux Renault 1:18.689 + 0.995
3 22   Patrick Depailler Alfa Romeo 1:18.719 + 1.025
4 10   Jan Lammers ATS-Ford 1:18.783 + 1.089
5 27   Alan Jones Williams-Ford 1:18.819 + 1.125
6 23   Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 1:18.924 + 1.230
7 28   Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford 1:18.964 + 1.270
8 29   Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 1:19.071 + 1.377
9 25   Didier Pironi Ligier-Ford 1:19.276 + 1.582
10 2   Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 1:19.285 + 1.591
11 15   Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault 1:19.316 + 1.622
12 3   Jean-Pierre Jarier Tyrrell-Ford 1:19.318 + 1.624
13 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Ford 1:19.455 + 1.88
14 4   Derek Daly Tyrrell-Ford 1:19.744 + 2.050
15 11   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 1:19.763 + 2.069
16 1   Jody Scheckter Ferrari 1:20.151 + 2.457
17 29   Jochen Mass Arrows-Ford 1:20.410 + 2.716
18 6   Ricardo Zunino Brabham-Ford 1:20.419 + 2.725
19 31   Eddie Cheever Osella-Ford 1:20.808 + 3.83
20 12   Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 1:20.830 + 3.114
21 7   John Watson McLaren-Ford 1:20.868 + 3.174
22 21   Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Ford 1:20.911 + 3.217
23 14   Clay Regazzoni Ensign-Ford 1:20.984 + 3.290
24 20   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 1:21.350 + 3.656
25 18   David Kennedy Shadow-Ford 1:21.523 + 3.829
26 17   Geoff Lees Shadow-Ford 1:23.486 + 5.792
27 8   Stephen South McLaren-Ford 1:24.121 + 6.427


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 5   Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford 80 1:50:18.550 1 9
2 29   Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 80 + 49.212 8 6
3 20   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 80 + 1:18.563 24 4
4 7   John Watson McLaren-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 21 3
5 1   Jody Scheckter Ferrari 79 + 1 Lap 16 2
6 25   Didier Pironi Ligier-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 9 1
7 30   Jochen Mass Arrows-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 17
8 4   Derek Daly Tyrrell-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 14
9 16   René Arnoux Renault 78 + 2 Laps 2
10 15   Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault 71 + 9 Laps 11
Ret 21   Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Ford 58 Overheating 22
Ret 14   Clay Regazzoni Ensign-Ford 50 Accident 23
Ret 27   Alan Jones Williams-Ford 49 Collision 5
Ret 23   Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 47 Collision 6
Ret 2   Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 46 Transmission 10
Ret 22   Patrick Depailler Alfa Romeo 40 Suspension 3
Ret 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Ford 36 Puncture 13
Ret 31   Eddie Cheever Osella-Ford 11 Transmission 19
Ret 28   Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford 3 Transmission 7
Ret 3   Jean-Pierre Jarier Tyrrell-Ford 3 Accident 12
Ret 12   Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 3 Accident 20
Ret 9   Jan Lammers ATS-Ford 0 Transmission 4
Ret 11   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 0 Accident 15
Ret 6   Ricardo Zunino Brabham-Ford 0 Accident 18
DNQ 18   David Kennedy Shadow-Ford
DNQ 17   Geoff Lees Shadow-Ford
DNQ 8   Stephen South McLaren-Ford

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1980 United States Grand Prix West[permanent dead link] at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ "1980 Formula 1 World Championship Programmes". The Programme Covers Project.
  3. ^ Plaschke, Bill (April 2, 1994). "A Collision With the Past : Paralyzed Regazzoni Returns as Street Racer to Site of Tragedy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  4. ^ "1980 USA West Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  5. ^ a b "United States West 1980 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Rob Walker (July, 1980). "5th United States Grand Prix West: Winner Takes All". Road & Track, 146–151.

Previous race:
1980 South African Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1980 season
Next race:
1980 Belgian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1979 United States Grand Prix West
United States Grand Prix West Next race:
1981 United States Grand Prix West
Preceded by
Grand Prix of Long Beach Succeeded by