The 1984 Dallas Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the 1st Stroh's Dallas Grand Prix, was the ninth round of the 1984 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Fair Park Circuit in Dallas, Texas, on the 8 July 1984. The race would become infamous for highlighting all that was wrong with F1 in the 1980s, with a huge number of accidents, a poorly prepared circuit, and embezzled funds ensuring that the first Dallas Grand Prix would also be the last.
Qualifying would see the two Lotus-Renaults dominate the proceedings, with Nigel Mansell claiming pole ahead of teammate Elio de Angelis. Championship leader Alain Prost would start from seventh, although the entire session was marred by a huge accident for Martin Brundle, who broke bones in both of his feet.
With Brundle out, and Philippe Alliot unable to take his spot on the grid, there were only 25 starters, all of whom would bemoan the incredible 38°C (100°F) air temperature on race day. Indeed, as Mansell and de Angelis led the field away at the start there were fears that the circuit would literally melt before the end of the race, having had to be repaired overnight on both Friday and Saturday.
The early star of the show proved to be Ayrton Senna, for a strong start for the Brazilian would carry him into fourth behind the two Loti and Derek Warwick. Warwick himself, meanwhile, would elbow his way past de Angelis for second early on, as the rest of the field was steadily thinned by a series of accidents.
Indeed, barring accident or mishap the order would remain fairly until the stops, although both Prost and Niki Lauda would pick their way up the order in their McLaren-TAGs. Another driver managing to make ground proved to be Keke Rosberg, with a series of moves mid-race carrying him from sixth to the lead by the end of lap 36.
Rosberg's charge was aided by the fact that he had started on hard tyres, meaning others, such as Mansell, saw their pace collapse before they pitted. Only Prost would challenge the Finn, and duly wrestled the lead from the Williams-Honda on lap 49 as Senna's race came to an end with a trip to the barriers.
Yet, it was not to be for Prost, with the Frenchman crashing heavily with ten laps to go to hand Rosberg the lead. The Finn duly cruised home to claim an unlikely victory for the unreliable, understeer riddled, Williams FW09, with René Arnoux and de Angelis completing the podium. Mansell, meanwhile, would collapse from exhaustion at the end of the race, having pushed his Lotus toward the line to claim the final point in sixth.
The weekend would go down as the hottest in F1 history, with the track temperature peaking at 66°C (150°F) during qualifying.
There had been quite a shock for the bosses of FOCA and FISA at the end of the 1983 season, for the organizers of the popular Long Beach Grand Prix declared that they would not be hosting the race again in 1984. The loss of such a lucrative event, combined with the loss of the much maligned Caesars Palace Grand Prix in 1982, left a significant hole in the finances of both FISA and FOCA, as well as shortage of races in North America. In a panic the two bodies accepted the first offer to host a race in the US that came to them, resulting in a conglomerate of Texas based businessman getting a chance to host their first Grand Prix.
A Dallas Dalliance
The Texan oil barons arranged for the city of Dallas to host the race, hoping to use the event to promote Dallas as a "world class city". The venue chosen was at Fair Park and the grounds of the Cotton Bowl Stadium, noted as the host of the annual Texas State Fair. However, while the Texas State Fair was held in the fall/autumn each year to avoid the blistering heat of the Texan summer, FISA and FOCA agreed that their race should be held in early July, a time when temperatures in Dallas rarely dropped below 30 °C.
The circuit itself was fairly creative given the fact that it was, in essence, a street circuit, with a mix of sweeping corners, chicanes, and 90° turns. However, the concrete walls, freshly and thinly laid tarmac and blind entries to each turn made the circuit look very unappealing from the cockpit, with a test session on the Thursday before the weekend also revealing that the circuit was horrendously bumpy. Unsurprisingly the drivers were unimpressed with the situation, with many questioning why Dallas had not been required to host a test event akin to the Formula 5000 race that Long Beach had had to stage in 1975.
The Professional Racing Drivers Association would meet on Thursday night to discuss a potential boycott of the race on safety grounds, demanding that the circuit be completely resurfaced before they would race. However, FISA and the race organisers managed to deflect attention back on the PRDA, with co-promoter Larry Waldrop declaring:
"F1 drivers are the biggest prima donnas in sport ... they bitch about everything"—Larry Waldrop, Dallas Grand Prix promoter
Furthermore, FISA and FOCA united to tell teams that failing to race would be against the terms of the Concorde Agreement, meaning they could be excluded from the Championship.
Away from discussions about the choice of Dallas as a host and Tyrrell found themselves in a dire situation, with the fallout of their disqualification from the 1984 Detroit Grand Prix causing quite a stir. Indeed, while FISA's technical delegate Gabriele Cadringher was keeping his findings from post-race scrutineering in Detroit away from the public eye, rumours about why the Tyrrell team had been disqualified ran rampant in the paddock and media. Indeed, some speculated that their disqualification was an attempt to remove the squad from FISA's Technical Commission, with Tyrrell the only members of the TC using naturally aspirated engines.
Indeed, Tyrrell were the only team vetoing an increase in fuel allowance to 220 litres for the 1985 season, which the manufacturer funded, turbocharged engined teams were pushing for. As such the removal of Tyrrell would allow the manufacturers, who were throwing huge sums of money into F1, full control of the technical rulebook and hence would let them dictate the future course of F1's rules. The future of not only Tyrrell, but the entire future of F1, hence rested on how the FIA's investigations into the Tyrrell 012's ballast practices unfolded.
A Natural Conclusion
Regardless, Tyrrell would make the trip south to Dallas for the race, with Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof again listed as their drivers. However, the British squad were the only team to arrive intending to use their naturally aspirated Ford Cosworth engines, for Arrows had completed work on a second A7 for Marc Surer. The Swiss racer was hence given BMW powered parity with teammate Thierry Boutsen, while Spirit were back with their Hart engined car, re-christened as the 101 rather than "101C", for Huub Rothengatter.
Elsewhere, Brabham-BMW arrived fresh from claiming their second straight victory, with a buoyant, and now full healed, Nelson Piquet arriving as favourite. He would be joined by Corrado Fabi in Texas, brother Teo again occupied by his CART commitments, with the pair using the same trio of BT53s that had run in Detroit. Indeed, the British squad had been one of the few teams to have enough spares to rebuild a car after the battle of Detroit, with the North American tour taking its toll on the entire field.
Indeed, Williams-Honda had been forced to revert to parts first designed for the Williams FW07 to maintain their trio of FW09s. In truth, designer Patrick Head had opted to use the FW07 sourced parts to try and cure the awful understeer that had plagued the FW09 since its creation, with all other solutions having failed earlier in the season. Indeed, both Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite arrived in Dallas expecting another difficult weekend amid the narrow streets.
Over at Renault a diktat was sent to their customers Lotus and Ligier to increase the size of their air-intakes, with the French manufacturer preparing for an incredibly hot weekend in Texas. Indeed, the factory pairing of Derek Warwick and Patrick Tambay arrived with huge holes in the sides of their RE50s, with extra radiators installed to increase cooling. Lotus and Ligier had been more subtle, simply increasingly the size of their radiators, while fielding unchanged line-ups of Elio de Angelis and Nigel Mansell, and François Hesnault and Andrea de Cesaris respectively.
Elsewhere, Ferrari were unchanged ahead of the trip to Dallas, although rumours regarding the future of their driving duo of Michele Alboreto and René Arnoux continued to bounce around the paddock. In contrast the future of the Alfa Romeo team had been secured after the Italian manufacturer committed to designing a new engine, with their V8 turbo proving far too thirsty to be competitive in 1984. However, drivers Riccardo Patrese and Eddie Cheever would have to wait until the end of the season to see the new L4t engine run, and so were preparing for another race in which they would likely run out of fuel.
Alfa's customers Osella, meanwhile, were in a better mood upon arrival, although they were only fielding one driver in the form of Piercarlo Ghinzani. Likewise, ATS-BMW were fairly happy in-spite of a costly weekend in Detroit, with Manfred Winkelhock keen to show his talents once again. It was a similar story at Toleman-Hart, with Ayrton Senna believing that Dallas would suit his particular talents, although teammate Johnny Cecotto was less keen to run in the heat. Completing the entry would be the two RAM-Harts of Philippe Alliot and Jonathan Palmer, which arrived with minor revisions to the suspension, and the imperious McLaren-TAGs of Alain Prost and Niki Lauda.
Into the Championship and victory for a second successive race in Detroit had seen Piquet leap into the top five of the title hunt, settling in ahead of Arnoux. Yet, the Brazilian was still someway off the Championship leader, with Prost having managed to again eek out his lead at the head of the pack in Detroit. Indeed, the Frenchman arrived in Dallas with a healthy 11.5 point lead over teammate Lauda, with the Austrian under threat for second from both Piquet and third placed de Angelis.
In the Constructors Championship it was, as ever, advantage McLaren-TAG arriving in Dallas, in spite of the fact that they had been outscored fairly comprehensively in Detroit. Surprisingly, Team Lotus-Renault had ended the weekend in Michigan as their closest challengers, having moved half a point ahead of Ferrari. Brabham-BMW, meanwhile, had climbed to fourth after their first double podium of the year, while Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth had been catapulted to the back of the field after their retroactive disqualification from the Championship.
The full entry list for the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice was supposed to start with a one hour unofficial session on Thursday, just to get used to the circuit. But, in what was a precursor of the rest of the weekend, things were delayed due to a series of disputes with the organizers. Once the cars got rolling, though, the drivers were in for a shock. First they found that the track was the bumpiest they had ever encountered, much worse than the previous bumpiest track in Detroit, where they had been just two weeks before. There was insufficient runoff room at the end of the short straights, and no place on the track had any cranes for removing disabled cars. The tire companies were having their own issues, with extremely high temperatures, and the fact that their qualifying tires were almost useless. The cars were getting as little as half a lap out of the softest tires at speed during practice, and the drivers were learning to drive their out laps at greatly reduced speed, hoping that the tires might last through the timed lap to follow.
The full qualifying results for the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||11||Elio de Angelis||Lotus-Renault||1:37.635||—||+0.594s|
|14||23||Eddie Cheever||Alfa Romeo||1:39.911||1:40.773||+2.870s|
|16||26||Andrea de Cesaris||Ligier-Renault||1:40.095||1:41.464||+3.054s|
|17||4||Stefan Bellof||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:40.336||1:41.680||+3.295s|
|18||24||Piercarlo Ghinzani||Osella-Alfa Romeo||1:41.176||1:42.439||+4.135s|
|21||22||Riccardo Patrese||Alfa Romeo||1:41.328||1:50.277||+4.287s|
|DNQ||3||Martin Brundle||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||2:31.960||—||+54.919s|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- * Alliot was unable to start the race after an accident during practice.
|Elio de Angelis||______________|
|Andrea de Cesaris||______________|
Late Saturday afternoon a support race for Can-Am cars was run. The cars were basically Formula 5000s with full bodywork, and weighed about 50% more than the F1 cars. At several corners, the asphalt was completely torn up and thrown aside, leaving nothing but the concrete foundation laid in the 1890s. Workers were mobilized, and all through the night were busy digging up the corners down to the dirt, and filling the holes with quick-dry cement. The drivers arrived about seven that morning for a scheduled 7:45 a.m. warmup session, but because of the ongoing repairs, the warmup session was postponed by more than an hour. But some levity came as a result of Jacques Laffite showing up in his pajamas. With the addition of a large public (and filmed) argument between Bernie Ecclestone and the race organizers over credentialing, and a pre-race press conference with the drivers almost unanimous in their condemnation of the track, organization and management, the pre-race TV show had plenty to cover.
The race had been originally scheduled to cover 78 laps, but practice times showed this to be wildly optimistic. So the distance was dropped to 68 laps, and was due to start at 11:00 a.m., ostensibly to avoid the heat (read: reach the maximum viewing audience in Europe). And while the workers made tremendous progress on the repairs to the track, several drivers, including Alain Prost and Niki Lauda were talking of a boycott of the race, until a complete resurfacing had been completed. Formula One management's position was that if the drivers did not race, they would be in breach of contract, no matter what. Derek Ongaro added some hope by approving the latest repairs to the track, so at a few minutes after 11:00, the drivers were rolling off on three reconnaissance laps, being flagged off by TV star Larry Hagman. All except for Arnoux, whose car would not fire up until the field had completed more than half a lap, thus causing him to start at the back of the grid. With Martin Brundle still at Baylor Medical Center, and Philippe Alliot's car beyond easy repair capabilities, 25 cars lined up for the start.
With the thermometer just moving past 90°F (34°C) Mansell made a perfect start, to hold a three car length lead past the stadium. Behind him, teammate De Angelis was holding off Warwick, Senna, Lauda, Rosberg and Prost. Hesnault was the first retiree, losing a wheel at the first chicane. Senna slapped the wall near the end of the first lap, but was able to reach the pits to replace his broken wheel. Cecotto came around with a flat tire, after colliding with Hesnault after his accident. At the front, Mansell was pulling away, aided by a misfire in the engine of De Angelis, who was passed by Warwick on lap four. By lap seven, Warwick was shadowing Mansell (whose tires were overheating), and Lauda had passed De Angelis.
Around lap 10 things got interesting. First, Cheever had clouted a wall with a rear tire at the first chicane, and was out. And Bellof had gone wide at the first hairpin, and broken the suspension both the front and rear of the right side. At the front, Warwick had been directly on Mansell's tail for a couple of laps, and on lap 11 tried a pass at the righthander just before the first hairpin. Mansell held his line, and suddenly Warwick found himself on the marbles, then into a tire barrier, where his race ended. Lauda found himself in second, but that only lasted a lap, as De Angelis's misfire had vanished as quickly as it had come, and he took Lauda on the straight before the pit complex. Further back, both Patrese and De Cesaris had been victimized by unrepaired portions of the track breaking up, and been forced to park broken cars on escape roads. And by virtue of attrition and brilliant passing in traffic, Arnoux had moved from the back of the field to 12th. On lap 16, Rothengatter pulled into the pits to retire with one of only two non-accident related breakdowns, a fuel line that was leaking into the cockpit, making him ill with the fumes.
At the front, Mansell was just ahead of both teammate De Angelis, and Rosberg, who was benefiting from everyone else having the same handling problems that he usually had with the FW09. On lap 19, Rosberg managed to squeeze past De Angelis coming out of the stadium lefthanders when the latter was baulked slightly by Mansell, and caught right up to Mansell. On lap 22, Mansell managed to get some breathing room when he lapped Surer just before the pit hairpin, but within a couple of laps he had a train comprised of Rosberg, De Angelis, Prost and Lauda on his tail, and it seemed that his tires were going off for good. Tambay was closing in on the lead pack until lap 26, when he cut the second chicane too close, and left his right front wheel behind. About then Cecotto did almost the same thing at the chicane before the pits. On lap 28, Prost was shown on TV, slapping the wall with his right rear coming out of the first hairpin. But, astonishingly, his car seemed none the worse, and he passed De Angelis for third on lap 30.
This eventful race seemed to settle down a bit at this point (with the exception of Arnoux carving his way up the field), but it was by no means boring. Rosberg was all over Mansell, trying to find a way past, and Mansell seemed to have less and less grip from his front tires. Things were so close that Rosberg and Prost passed each other twice, while never getting more than a second behind Mansell. On lap 36 Rosberg finally managed to pass Mansell before the left hander at the back corner of the circuit. Only to have Mansell try to repass him at the last chicane, with both drivers waving their arms at each other. Once clear, Rosberg quickly opened up a five second lead, while in the space of two laps Mansell fell behind Prost, De Angelis and Lauda, before brushing the wall and pitting for new tires. This dropped him two more places to seventh, behind the incredible Arnoux, and Piquet, who had been fighting a sticking throttle for most of the race. Rosberg's hopes of keeping his lead were short lived, as Prost started catching him at a second a lap. De Angelis found that his front tires were worn out, too, as he was passed by Lauda, then a few laps later by the amazing Arnoux, now up to fourth.
About this time Piquet's throttle stuck open at the right hander leading onto the start/finish straight, and pitched his car straight into the tire barrier. He got out, hopped the fence, and watched the rest of the race from one of the VIP suites. At the back of the field, Palmer retired with electrical problems, and Senna suffered a broken driveshaft on the wheel that he had hit the wall with on lap two. On lap 49, Prost caught Rosberg, and shot right past him, as Keke had no intention of driving like Mansell had. As Prost sailed off into the distance. On lap 55, Alboreto hit the wall and retired at the first hairpin, where a disturbingly large number of cars were seen on camera parked just after the apex. Surer hit a chunk of pavement kicked up just past the stadium, and the jolt to his tire and loss of grip put him in the wall. Boutsen blew his engine on lap 56, which was later traced to a chuck of asphalt piercing his radiator.
Everyone seemed ready to witness yet another victory for Prost, when on lap 57 he had a lapse of judgement, and clipped the barrier at the apex of the right hander before the first hairpin, probably the worst section of track at this point. The impact broke the wheel, and Prost had no alternative but to crawl around the hairpin and join the parking lot, as Rosberg sailed past into the lead. He was lapping at a steady four seconds ahead of Lauda, but the lead grew when Lauda hit the same barrier that Prost did, but with his right rear tire, breaking the suspension.
Rosberg took the checkered flag at the end of lap 67, having reached the two hour limit. Arnoux's brilliant drive netted him second, about 23 seconds behind Rosberg. After his tire change, De Angelis focused on not making any mistakes, and was rewarded with third, a lap down. Rosberg's teammate Laffite drove a very cautious race to fourth, having survived a mid-race spin. But there was even more drama to come. Mansell had been trying to catch Laffite when he had just nicked the barrier at the corner before the first hairpin. He backed off, but when it had seemed like there was no damage, but coming into the pit complex on his final lap his gearbox broke. He tried to coast as far as he could, but the car stalled 100 meters before the finish line. Inexplicably he hopped out, and with the thermometer now indicating 104°F (40°C) he tried to push the car over the line. Members of different teams were shouting at him that pushing the car was illegal, but with him still wearing his helmet, and other cars finishing nearby, he couldn't hear them. As he was pushing the car, Ghinzani passed him for fifth, so he had nothing to gain anyway. Mansell made it about 50 meters, and collapsed right in front of a TV camera, banging his head on a rear tire on the way down. Medical personnel were on him immediately, and he was transported directly to the medical center. He regained consciousness a while later to find out that he had finished sixth, and pushing the car had made no difference.
The full results for the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||28||René Arnoux||Ferrari||67||+ 22.464||4||6|
|3||11||Elio de Angelis||Lotus-Renault||66||+ 1 Lap||11||4|
|4||5||Jacques Laffite||Williams-Honda||65||+ 2 Laps||24||3|
|5||24||Piercarlo Ghinzani||Osella-Alfa Romeo||65||+ 2 Laps||18||2|
|7||2||Corrado Fabi||Brabham-BMW||64||+ 3 Laps||11|
|8||14||Manfred Winkelhock||ATS-BMW||64||+ 3 Laps||13|
|Ret||8||Niki Lauda||McLaren-TAG||60||Broken suspension||5|
|Ret||7||Alain Prost||McLaren-TAG||56||Broken wheel||7|
|Ret||18T||Thierry Boutsen||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||55||Engine||20|
|Ret||19||Ayrton Senna||Toleman-Hart||47||Broken driveshaft||6|
|Ret||26||Andrea de Cesaris||Ligier-Renault||15||Accident||12|
|Ret||21||Huub Rothengatter||Spirit-Hart||15||Fuel leak||23|
|Ret||22||Riccardo Patrese||Alfa Romeo||12||Accident||21|
|DSQ*||4||Stefan Bellof||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||9||Accident||17|
|Ret||23||Eddie Cheever||Alfa Romeo||8||Broken suspension||14|
|WD‡||3||Martin Brundle||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Bellof was retroactively disqualified following the "ban" of the Tyrrell 012.
- † Alliot was unable to star the race after an accident during qualifying.
- ‡ Brundle's entry was withdrawn after his accident during qualifying.
- First (and only) Dallas Grand Prix to be held as part of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
- Highest track temperature ever recorded at a Grand Prix: 150 °F (66 °C).
- Niki Lauda started his 150th Grand Prix.
- Michele Alboreto made his 50th Grand Prix start.
- 50th entry for Derek Warwick.
- Maiden pole position for Nigel Mansell.
- Third career win for Keke Rosberg.
- Williams secured their eighteenth victory as a constructor.
- 22nd and final podium finish for René Arnoux.
- First (and only) points finish for Piercarlo Ghinzani.
There were some significant changes in the upper-reaches of the Championship at the end of the Dallas Grand Prix, although Champion elect Alain Prost still held a healthy lead. Indeed, at the end of the North American tour the Frenchman's lead stood at nine and a half points, with Elio de Angelis his closest challenger. The Italian himself was two ahead of Niki Lauda, with René Arnoux and race winner Keke Rosberg completing the top five.
In the Constructors Championship it was still McLaren-TAG whom led the charge, despite failing to score at all in Dallas. Indeed, while Ferrari had moved back into second, half a point ahead of Lotus-Renault, they were still some 27 points off of the Anglo-German alliance with six races to go. Elsewhere, Williams-Honda had made some ground with their first victory of the season, displacing Brabham-BMW for fourth.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'United States GP, 1984', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr397.html, (Accessed 20/03/2019)
- Hamilton, Maurice, Grand Prix Circuits, (Glasgow: HarperCollins, 2015), pp.200-203
- '9. USA 1984', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/etats-unis.aspx, (Accessed 30/03/2019)
- A.H., 'Dallas Grand Prix: Slowest through the streets', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/08/1984), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1984/22/dallas-grand-prix, (Accessed 20/03/2019)
- 'USA 1984: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/etats-unis/engages.aspx, (Accessed 20/03/2019)
- 'USA 1984: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/etats-unis/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 20/03/2019)
- 'USA 1984: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/etats-unis/classement.aspx, (Accessed 20/03/2019)
- '1984 Dallas GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2015), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1984&gp=Dallas%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 20/03/2019)
|V T E||Dallas Grand Prix|
|See also||United States Grand Prix • United States Grand Prix West • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix • Miami Grand Prix|
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