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Author Topic: Long Beach & Vegas  (Read 5398 times)

Offline lkjohnson1950

Long Beach & Vegas
« on: February 17, 2009, 12:03:54 AM »
To be honest, I don't remember the exact years, but when F1 came to western America, I was fortunate enough to have a friend in the SCCA who got me a job as a Grid Marshall. For holding the position boards on the hot grid to line up the drivers, we got credentials that got us anywhere but the hot pits all weekend. I have some great pictures I'll post if I ever get a scanner. My best memory is of pushing my way through the crowd in front of the arena at Long Beach, flashing my wristband at the guard and getting to go where they couldn't. Then we repeated the whole thing at the barrier the kept back the crowd inside, so the mechanics could work. We got to mingle with the teams. The rear tire of the Renaults was so soft, when I pressed on it, it left a dent!
 I remember John Watson looking absolutely spent getting out of his car after the Vegas race when he lost the WDC to Piquet by just a couple of points. I remember Williams absolutely neglecting Carlos Reutimann when he had a chance at winning the WDC. They spent the whole time working on Alan Jones' car. He won and I believe Williams got the Constructor's title, but Piquet won the WDC and I formed an intense dislike for Frank Williams that continues to this day.
 I remember watching John Watson come from 22nd or so on the grid to win in Long Beach. We were on the outside of the parking lot sweeper before the final hairpin (which was way up the hill in those days). Every lap he would come by ahead of another car. A couple of times he passed someone right in front of us. Imagine someone doing that today!!
 I also remember Gilles doing perfect 4 wheel drifts right out to the ARMCO lap after lap. I also remember him braking at the end of the straight with the car weaving and bottoming out. I thought he was nuts, but he did that lap after lap too.
 But I think my fondest memory is from Watkins Glen in '79 or '80. We were camping  near the end of the straight (no bus stop in those days), and were awakened by the mechanics warming the engines Sunday morning, so we wandered down to the garages. I got there just in time to see Reutimann arrive in a FIAT 128!! And when he tried to shift into reverse to park it, he crunched the gears just like I occasionally did in my 128. That made him a favorite with me  :D

« Last Edit: February 17, 2009, 12:08:17 AM by lkjohnson1950 »


Online Dare

Re: Long Beach & Vegas
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2009, 12:37:19 AM »
nice read Lonny,get you a scanner and post
those pics.I'm ready for some more
F1 tales
Mark Twain once opined, "it's easier to con someone than to convince them they've been conned."

Offline John S

Re: Long Beach & Vegas
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2009, 07:27:11 AM »
Cool memories Lonny, takes me back in time just remembering those names, must have been great to actually be there. John Watson had some classy races in USGP's but that one at Long was one of his best.
Racing is Life - everything else is just....waiting. (Steve McQueen)

Offline Scott

Re: Long Beach & Vegas
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2009, 07:29:38 AM »
Thanks for the memories Lonny.  To have watched Villeneuve do his magic would have been amazing.  I only got to see him for a couple of years on TV.
The Honey Badger doesn't give a...

Offline cosworth151

Re: Long Beach & Vegas
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2009, 12:30:38 PM »
Thanks, Lonny. Those are great stories. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures!
“You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won't find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it.”
― Bob Dylan

Offline Wizzo

Re: Long Beach & Vegas
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2009, 04:31:59 PM »
*Sigh* perfect 4 wheels drifts - I can see them now.

Nice one Lonny.  :good:
"No Matter how little money and how few possessions, you own, having a dog makes you rich."

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Offline Steven Roy

Re: Long Beach & Vegas
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2009, 07:45:53 PM »
Great stuff Lonny.  Winning from 22nd seems unbelievable nowadays but I remember that race and I remember Watson winning from almost that far back at Detroit.

I would love to have had the opportunity to watch Gilles in the flesh.


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