I was watching some of the classic grand prix highlights on the BBC website to satisfy my F1 needs and happened upon the 1982 US GP West. During the commentary Murray Walker mentioned that it was 75 and a half laps. I thought, I know Murray was prone to the odd mistake but I didn’t think he’d randomly insert half a lap. After a quick search all I could find was that it was 75.5 laps but not why, only something about the pits were going to be moved. As I wasn’t born for another 8 years I have no memory of it and I couldn’t think of a reason why that year they would start the race in one part of the circuit and finish in another, even with the pits going to be moved. I was therefore wondering whether any of my fellow fanatics knew the reason, knowledgable as you are.
The Long Beach circuit was rare in that the pit lane and finish line were located on the side of a hill that on the other side of the track to the start line and grid, which was on the water front. This meant that a half lap had to be completed to get from the start line to the finish line.
Im sure that there were another one or two f1 tracks over time that had a pit lane on a different part of the track to the grid but cant recall them.
It actually happened in 1981 as well – I have Automobile Year 1981 at home and it shows as much. I believe it was for safety purposes; if the race had started from where the finish line was located, the cars would all be going into a tight sequence of bends almost straight away. But on the other side of the circuit, there was a fast sweeper and a long run down to the hairpin, giving the drivers time to sort themselves out. It wasn’t the finish line that was moved, but the start line, if that makes sense. The extra half a lap came at the start of the race, not at the end.