1972 US Grand Prix: The Bus and the Bogladytes

05 72 USGP Bog

The Kiss of Death

Early in each October, the US GP was run at Watkins Glen, NY, which was home to the Formula 1 circus from 1961 until 1980. In addition to attracting genuine race fans, the event also attracts a substantial number of bacchanalians who spent most of the weekend drunk and oblivious.

Within this second group is a subspecies known as the “Bogladytes”. The Bogladytes put on a show between Turns 10 and 11 in an area known as “The Bog”, a drainage area.

Bog favorites were Jeeps and VW Beetles. Eventually the Bog sucked in lesser vehicles (in terms of mud-ability) like this ‘61 Chevy four-door–well, at least at one time it had four doors.

Dig the Austin Healey 3000 and the Fiat 850 Spyder in the background.


02 72 USGP Bog

Die in a Fire

The dance began in a fairly prosaic manner. After a cat-and-mouse demo derby in the bog, one or both vehicles would become mired in the mud. Once this happened, the Molotov Cocktails followed shortly.


04 72 USGP Bog

A real hot ‘63 Plymouth

Once a car was on its roof and burning, the Bogladytes began the process of enticing other drunken idiots into the Bog. Failing that, Beetle magnesium engine blocks would be lit much to the crowd’s delight. Quite the show at night.


06 USGP Bog

Daddy’s Pride

What’s this? A Pontiac? Whatever it is, it won’t be going back to daddy’s driveway. It’s just another victim of The Bog.

I took the above photos at the 1972 US GP. The Bog would live for only two more years.


07 Bus

Photo by Mark Spaulding

In 1974, Brazilian fans of Emerson Fittipaldi hired a Greyhound bus to bring them to the GP. The bus driver dropped off his passengers at the grandstand upon arrival and got out himself, but left the keys in the ignition. Rookie mistake!

It is said that a long-haired, shirtless perp commandeered the bus and made for The Bog. And that’s the rest of the story.

Fittipaldi finished fourth in the race, clinching the ‘74 world championship. Greyhound sent up another bus for the Fittipaldi fans. The open drainage trench that gave life to The Bog was eliminated after the race; today, it’s a parking area.