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"More satisfying than winning Indianapolis"

"More satisfying than winning Indianapolis"

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"More satisfying than winning Indianapolis"

"More satisfying than winning Indianapolis"

"More satisfying than winning Indianapolis," was how Mario Andretti described his Formula 1 victory in the United States Grand Prix on this day 43 years ago.

Andretti's triumph in the USGP West, otherwise known as the Long Beach Grand Prix given its location, is significant to this day as he remains the only American to win an F1 race on home soil, and we are excluding the running of the Indy 500 that was part of the F1 championship from 1950 to 1960.

Another milestone was that it was the maiden success of the Lotus 78, a car which employed ground-effect technology for the first time.

A pall had been cast going into the race weekend following the deaths of Tom Pryce and marshal Frederik Jansen van Vuuren in the previous race in South Africa on March 5, and also Carlos Pace, who was killed 13 days later in a light aircraft accident near Sao Paulo.

Andretti started a race that was run in blistering temperatures of near 40 degrees celsius in second, qualifying behind Ferrari's Niki Lauda.

It was Jody Scheckter, in the Wolf Ford, who got the jump on the front row pair, with Andretti then narrowly avoiding being hit by James Hunt's McLaren that had been launched into the air going into turn one.

A battle then ensued between Scheckter, Andretti and Lauda for most of the 80-lap race.

Late on, Scheckter began to experience a slowly-deflating front tyre, and battled manfully to retain the lead until passed first by Andretti and then Lauda.

Andretti held off Lauda over the closing laps to claim what was the third of his 12 F1 victories, and a greater achievement in his eyes than his only Indy 500 win in 1969.

"It is one of the nicest moments of my career, even more satisfying than winning Indianapolis and really gratifying to have so many people pulling for me," said Andretti, who had been roared home by a crowd of 70,000.

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