2 October 2013
Korean Grand Prix: Six of the Best: Short-lived Grand Prix circuits
International motor racing wouldn't return to Morocco until 2009, and the Casablanca event is destined to forever remain an obscure oddity on F1's international roll call of honour.
Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Caesar's Palace Grand Prix, 1981-82:
Formula One has suffered a frequently difficult and enduringly peripatetic relationship with the United States through the years, and no race better illustrates the cultural clash of American glitz and Formula One's then conservative European power base than Las Vegas' Caesar's Palace Grand Prix.
When Watkins Glen, the traditional home of the American Grand Prix, could no longer afford to host Formula One, Vegas and Caesar's Palace stepped in. The city was eager to shed its shady mafia image and generate some good publicity, and the casino keen to profit from the extra revenue guaranteed by a back-yard sporting jamboree.
Built away from the iconic Strip in the Caesar's Palace car park, the circuit's myriad problems included the desert heat, an absurd and flatly repetitive 'M' shaped layout, an overly narrow makeshift pit-lane without garages, tiny crowds, and an anti-clockwise direction that, when allied to the heavy-braking stop-start nature of the lap, placed a terrible strain on the drivers' necks.
Stepping in to Watkins Glen's breach, Caesar's Palace assumed the role of season-closer, bringing the curtain down on the 1981 and 1982 campaigns – both of which went to the wire.
In 1981, Nelson Piquet pipped Carlos Reutemann and Jacques Laffite to the title in a three-way showdown, overcoming exhaustion and severe neck strain – throwing up in his helmet during the race - to bring the car home in fifth place and beat Reutemann by one point.
For 1982, the equation was equally knife-edged, with Keke Rosberg and John Watson battling for the Drivers' title. A fifth place behind maiden winner Michele Alboreto was enough for Rosberg, but a paltry crowd of 30,000 illustrated the extent to which the race had failed to capture the imagination.
Three American races didn't go into two for the 1983 calendar, and Caesar's Palace was the odd-man out, quietly kicked to the kerb as the first of many failed races across the US in the 80s and early 90s.
Avus, Berlin, German Grand Prix, 1959:
Formula One circuit maps are uniquely distinctive, the iconic shapely curves of Spa or Monaco instinctively alluding to racing history just through a cookie-cutter silhouette. However, for every classic layout, there are those forgotten circuits whose indistinct outlines represent nothing more than incidental squiggles. And then there's AVUS, a one-off substitute for the old Nürburgring which hosted the 1959 German Grand Prix.
The Automobil-Verkehrs und Übungs-Straße, to give its full name, is the single most bizarre setting to ever have been decorated with a Formula One Grand Prix. An abridged autobahn on the outskirts of Berlin, in its motor racing configuration AVUS was a unique four-corner circuit which saw two long straights joined at each end by tight corners; a literal hairpin with a flat 180-degree south curve and an infamous red-bricked, 43-degree banked and barrier-less north curve to complete the lap.
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