- Dan Knutson
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Scott Speed is poised to become the first American Formula One driver in 13 years now that he has signed with Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2006 season. While it's been a while since an American competed in F1 (the last was Michael Andretti in 1993), the list of drivers from the U.S. who raced in Grand Prix events is long and impressive and includes world champions Mario Andretti and Phil Hill.
Here's a look at all U.S. drivers who started in at least one Grand Prix.
Mario Andretti: Born in Italy but an American through and through, Andretti competed in 128 Grand Prix races between 1968 and 1982. He drove for Lotus, March, Ferrari, Parnelli, Alfa Romeo and Williams. In all, he started from the pole 18 times, won 12 races, and finished on the podium seven other times. The highlight of his F1 career came in 1978, when he won the world championship driving for Colin Chapman's Lotus team.
Michael Andretti: Already a star in the CART series, Michael arrived in F1 with the wrong team at the wrong time. Having the legendary Ayrton Senna as a teammate was a daunting challenge. Although Senna won five times in 1993, the McLaren team was heading for a slump. Andretti had limited testing in the car, which was packed with electronics, partly because he was based in the U.S. and partly because team boss Ron Dennis was giving his "favored son" Mika Hakkinen as much seat time as possible. The unhappy situation came to an end after 13 races and Andretti returned to CART. He finished third in his last race, at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, which was the same track where his father clinched the world championship back in 1978.
Bob Bondurant: Now the owner of the highly successful racing driver school, Bondurant competed in F1 in 1965 and 1966. He drove a Ferrari, Lotus and an Eagle in a total of nine races, and his best finish was a fourth in Monaco. Bondurant was a friend of the great Jim Clark, and still passes on some of Clark's driving secrets to his students today.
Ronnie Bucknum: One of the original members of Honda's first F1 effort, Bucknum competed in
11 events between 1964 and 1966. His best finish was fifth in the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix.
Eddie Cheever: Cheever was the last American to race in his home Grand Prix when he finished third in the 1989 U.S. Grand Prix in Phoenix driving an Arrows. In all, he contested 132 races between 1978 and 1989 driving for Hesketh, Osella, Tyrrell, Ligier, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Lola and Arrows. He never won but did score nine podium finishes.
Mark Donahue: Having won in all sorts of categories in the U.S., including the 1972 Indy 500, Donahue and Roger Penske headed for F1 in 1974. Prior to that, Donahue had started in one F1 race, when he finished third in the 1971 Canadian Grand Prix driving a McLaren. He competed in 13 races for Penske and died after an accident during practice for the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix.
George Follmer: A star in the Can-Am and Trans-Am series in North America, Follmer raced in
12 Grand Prix in 1973 driving for Shadow. His best finish was third in Spain.
Richie Ginther: A laid-back Californian, Ginther gave Honda its first F1 victory when he won the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. In all, he started 52 F1 races between 1960 and 1966 driving for Ferrari, BRM, Cooper and Honda.
Masten Gregory: Gregory competed in a total of 38 Grand Prix between 1957 and 1965. He drove a Maserati, Cooper, Lotus, Lola and BRM with his best result being a second in the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix.
Dan Gurney: One of the greatest all-around drivers ever, Gurney won the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix in an Eagle, his own F1 team, and the Le Mans 24 Hours (driving with A.J. Foyt) on consecutive weekends. Jim Clark said that Gurney was the driver he most feared on the track. Driving for Ferrari, BRM, Porsche, Brabham, Eagle and McLaren, Gurney won four times and had 15 other podium finishes in 86 starts.
Jim Hall: Founder of the impressive Chaparral line of racing cars, Jim Hall contested 11 F1 races between 1960 and 1963. His best finish was fifth in the 1963 German Grand Prix.
Walt Hansgen: Hangsen started two F1 races, both in the USA, in a Cooper and then a Lotus, in 1961 and 1964. He finished fifth in 1964.
Phil Hill: Hill became the first American to win the world championship when he took the title in 1961 driving for Ferrari. He raced in a total of 48 Grand Prix between 1958 and 1964 driving for Maserati, Ferrari, Cooper, ATS and Lotus. He scored three wins and 13 other podium finishes.
Peter Revson: One of the heirs to the Revlon fortune, the dashing Revson had to pay his own way in racing as the family did not approve of his career choice. He started 30 Grand Prix between 1964 and 1974 driving a Lotus, Tyrrell, McLaren and Shadow. He scored two victories, in 1973, driving a McLaren. He died a year later when he crashed his Shadow while testing in South Africa.
Harry Schell: Schell drove a Cooper, Talbot, Maserati, Ferrari, Vanwall and BRM in 55 races between 1950 and 1960. His best finish was second in the 1958 Dutch Grand Prix behind the wheel of a BRM.
Carroll Shelby: Creator of the legendary Cobra cars, Shelby drove a Maserati in 1958 and an Aston Martin in 1959. He took fourth place in the 1958 Italian Grand Prix.
Danny Sullivan: Before his successful Indy car career, Sullivan drove in 15 F1 races for Tyrrell in 1983, with his best finish coming in Monaco, where he placed fifth.
Dan Knutson covers Formula One for National Speed Sport News and ESPN.com.