But now, with a purpose-built race track, funded by a private investor, and a decade-long commitment to race in Texas, perhaps Formula One will finally get a foothold in a lucrative market which could help drive it towards a bigger and brighter future.
Stewart told CNN World Sport: "I think Austin, Texas has an even better chance, because they're building a stadium, a Formula One road racing stadium.
"Formula One needs the United States. There is a huge car market. I know now China is bigger, I know India is bigger and if not, going to be bigger, but the United States of America is still huge.
"We need to get a home there, where Formula One could be developed, and it could be seen as the sophisticated end of Formula One, of motorsport. But why shouldn't there be, if there's 300 million people in America, if we just got 10 per cent of them, that's a huge audience.
"And when we go to a little country, population-wise, like Australia, we have more than 300,000 people coming for the long weekend of the Australian Grand Prix. And they don't have a background like America has, of motorsport."
At one stage it appeared the United States' appetite for F1 was insatiable.
Despite Watkins Glen's long association coming to an end in 1981, the following season there were an unprecedented three American races, as Detroit, Las Vegas and Long Beach all welcomed the sport.
Though that particular hat-trick lasted just one season, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is keen for a return to the glory days and is desperate to add a second U.S. race to the modern-day roster.
New Jersey had been included on a provisional 2013 calendar but organizers have been forced to postpone for a year as they continue to grapple with financial issues.
Ecclestone has long pined for a grand prix in the picturesque city of New York, but whether a second race appears in the Big Apple or in neighboring New Jersey, Andretti is confident the U.S has a sufficient appetite for two visits a season.
"America as large as it is can easily support two races -- one would feed off the other," he explained.
"I just can't see a negative in any way. I know Bernie Ecclestone for many years has wanted to have something in the proximity of New York for obvious reasons.
"And with the event there and the backdrop of Manhattan, it's going to provide the ambience they're looking for. I think both venues could be very attractive."