After the 1984 Canadian Grand Prix, Formula 1 stayed in North America for a while, heading to the North American city of Dallas for another round of the World Championship. It would happen on a new street circuit that did not please the drivers due to excessive undulations above the tolerable even for an urban track.
In qualifying, Ayrton Senna was one of the highlights with his Toleman, securing a sixth place on the grid. The Brazilian was convinced he could score points on the challenging circuit, which presented issues concerning asphalt quality on a weekend marked by oppressive heat, above 100ºF.
The Formula 1 Grand Prix had, as has traditionally been the case, preliminary category races, but in Dallas this would have contributed to the asphalt being even more precarious. Before the green light, rumors began to circulate that the race would not take place because whole chunks of the track were coming apart.
Lotus drivers Elio de Angelis and Nigel Mansell said the asphalt was the worst they had ever driven on in their careers.
The organizers changed the start time to 11 a.m. to escape the intense heat in Dallas, but the competitors had to arrive around 6 a.m. for the warm-up.
Williams driver Jacques Laffite revolted against the schedule and arrived at the circuit in his pajamas in protest against the organization. In the end, they canceled the warm-up practice to not damage the asphalt even more.
At the start, Mansell, who had taken his first career pole position, jumped in front while De Angelis was the second.
The two Lotus were followed by Derek Warwick and Senna, who jumped to fourth place after finding more traction than Niki Lauda and taking advantage of René Arnoux’s technical problems – he had the fourth best time but started at the end of the pack.
In the second lap, Ayrton got close to Warrick and turned up the pressure on the Renault driver, but in his eagerness to be among the top three, he spun out and stopped facing the wrong way, meaning he had to wait for everyone to pass before he could maneuver his Toleman to the correct position.
Ayrton had to stop at the pits to change tires before starting a recovery race. At the front of the pack, a good fight between Warwick and De Angelis. Warwick took the lead on the 4th lap and soon caught up to Mansell’s rear. In an attempt to take the front, the Renault driver spun out and hit the tires.
Ayrton also had to stop at the pits before starting his recovery. At the front of the pack, Warwick and De Angeles fought a good battle. Warrick took the lead in the fourth lap and soon was upon Mansell. When trying to take the lead, the Renault driver spun out and hit the tires.
The Frenchman was another one to see the wall in his face, leaving the victory to the Finnish. By the 46th lap, 15 cars had already retired either from crashes or for spinning off the track which had few run-off areas. Adversity surprised even the most experienced drivers, such as Nelson Piquet, Niki Lauda, and Alain Prost.
After a quick rebound from his previous setbacks, Senna was determined to make a strong comeback in the race. However, his ambitions were cut short when he collided with a wall, preventing him from finishing among the top six drivers. Unfortunately, this incident added Ayrton Senna’s name to the list of technical complications that plagued the Dallas Grand Prix, ultimately leading to his retirement after completing 47 laps.
Keke Rosberg won the race. René Arnoux, who had started at the end of the grid, took several positions back throughout the 67 laps and finished second. De Angelis completed the podium.
In a dramatic and historic final lap, Nigel Mansell, after colliding with a wall earlier in the race, crashed again in the last corner. Determined to finish and score a point, Mansell bravely attempted to push his damaged Lotus across the finish line, but exhaustion overcame him, and he passed out. Nevertheless, Mansell’s valiant efforts earned him a remarkable sixth-place finish, showcasing his unwavering spirit and leaving a lasting mark on Formula 1 history.
After the thrilling race, Ayrton Senna had a conversation with his team’s engineer, British Pat Symonds, that revealed an intriguing revelation. Senna openly suggested that the position of the wall he collided with had actually changed since the previous year, resulting in his crash.
While some may have dismissed it as an excuse, the surprising truth came to light when Symonds confirmed Senna’s claim. The notion of a shifting wall added a fascinating and almost surreal element to the incident, showcasing how precise Ayrton’s accuracy was.
E. de Angelis
A. de Cesaris
E. de Angelis
position in championship following the race
championship points accumulated
best lap (did not finish)