Jan 16, 2011

Patrick Depailler On-Board Lap 1978 Formula One United States Grand Prix Long Beach

Fantastic on board footage of the late F1 ace Patrick Depailler of France taken during practice for the 1978 Formula One United States Grand Prix at Long Beach. Elf Team Tyrell driver Depailler would go on to win the very next race, the Monaco Grand Prix and finish 5th in the seasons final standings. American Mario Andretti driving for John Player Team Lotus would start from pole in 8 of the seasons 16 races and go on to post 6 wins en route to the 1978 F1 World Championship. Oh yeah, that's Mario's voice you hear at the beginning of the clip, also this side note... you know you've pissed the cop off when he addresses you with the old "Where you going in such a hurry Mario?" as he approaches the drivers window. True story , me in my 1970 911T after being caught with a heavy right foot thru the Sepulveda pass circa 1989

The Queen Mary can be see to his left as Depailler blasts down Shoreline drive at around 190mph give or take. That was fast back then and it's fast now. Not sure how many people out there know this, but the very same racing course seen in this amazing clip is still run today on the public streets around and adjacent to the Long Beach Convention Center and home of the Queen Mary and Inspiration 2011. The track has changed some over the years but still features at least one stretch that remains virtually unchanged and that stretch is Shoreline Drive, the fastest point on the course. Shoreline Drive, the very same street many will be traversing while traveling to and from Inspiration 2011 Vol 2 "We Insist".
Do yourself's a favor and take a moment if and when in Long Beach to blast down Shoreline Drive and taste a big old slice of pure joy!  Watch the speed & signals and don't break any laws, but do not miss a chance of a lifetime. Some of the cement barriers, grandstands and chain link fencing should be out to add flavor with this years Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy Car race coming up in April.
This race has been my yearly right of spring for most all of my adult life, more years than I care to remember but let's give it a try....first Long Beach GP attended was the final appearance for F1 back in say 1983 and won by John Watson for McLaren, I havn't missed a race since. That means this year marks the 28th year straight. Oh jeez. 
I've seen Formula One, CART / Indy Car, American LeMans Series, SCCA Trans Am (Paul Newman taking out half the field including his own 600+hp Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo at the start back in the mid 80's) & IMSA GTO (Audi Quattro GTO All Wheel Drive Madness which provided some of the baddest ass and most fun to watch racing machines ever built) and a whole more.

Patrick Depailler in the 6 wheel Tyrell, Monaco GP pratice 1977, from the fantastic dvd 50 Years of Formula One On-Board.  The camera was mounted looking down from above and behind the drivers head, making for some bizarre looking overhead on-board shots. The bottom of the camera rig can be seen at screen bottom.

These clips, this racing, this is the stuff that truly inspires, the stuff that gives goose bumps and the stuff that makes grown men cry. Auto racing will always be a dangerous sport, but it was flat out deadly back in the day with too many great drivers being lost to the sport. While the Prost v Senna v Mansel duels of the 80's & 90's were great, the 1970's were truly magical. IMO this was the golden era of Formula 5000 and Formula One. 


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  2. A few nice cars over there at 4rmotorsports.com, very nice cars. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to connect. You should appreciate the shirt I just posted. I've been driving my 89 Grand Wagoneer for so long now that I almost forgot what driving a car with some power and handling was like. I miss my 911.