A second race in the US?

I bumped into Bernie Ecclestone in Singapore and we had a chat about some of the matters of the moment: nothing too heavy. We talked a bit about India and getting everything together in time for the GP; we touched on Mexico where he said there are moves going on; and we briefly discussed a race in New York. Bernie has always wanted a race that uses the city as a backdrop. It is just one of his things. This goes back to October 1982 when Ecclestone announced that a race would take place in New York in 1983. The New York Grand Prix Corporation had signed a deal for seven years but the sites being discussed were not downtown but out in the suburbs: at Flushing Meadow in Queens, at Roosevelt Field on Long Island and at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The site chosen was Flushing Meadow and an event was planned for September 1983 but it soon became clear that there were legal issues which would delay matters and in the end Ecclestone decided not to risk a last-minute injunction and so the race was cancelled.

In 1984 CART raced in a circuit laid out in the car park of Meadowlands. Ecclestone kept trying but in mid-1985 the plan was cancelled once and for all. Meadowlands went on being used by CART until the March 1992 announcement of a race in Manhattan. The intention was for Indycars to race around a 1.14-mile track, at the base of the World Trade Center, reaching speeds of 165mph. The plan was there to be grandstands for 50,000 people and the minimum disruption possible for the city. The organisers even went as far as to predict that the race would generate $56m for the city. The date was set for July 11 1993 and Mayor David Dinkins declared himself to be behind the event. The man behind that idea was none other Floyd “Chip” Ganassi, owner of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Inc, in league with Marlboro and the renowned International Management Group (IMG). That was cancelled after six months of talk.

Since then Ecclestone has concentrated his efforts on the New Jersey shoreline, which provides great views of Manhattan. He has had a series of plans but none have yet come off. The most recent involves a street track right on the river at Weehawken. It is a good plan and Mr E mentioned that he was hopeful that this might actually come good and that he has spoken to “the man who owns the land”. I was intrigued by this because I thought it odd that one man might be able to own such a huge chunk of land alongside the River Hudson in a city such as New York. I discovered Arthur Imperatore Jr.

One of 10 children, Imperatore was raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, during the Depression and early poverty fuelled his drive for success. He joined his brothers in their trucking company in 1947, when they had two old army trucks and they built the APA Transport Corporation, one of the most successful freight lines in the country. Imperatore then began investing in real estate and in 1981 he purchased 350 acres of crumbling dockland and abandoned factories during the liquidation of the Penn Central Railway. He paid just $7.75 million for what amounted to two and half miles of waterfront. He has spent the last 25 years working towards creating a new world of luxury condominiums, high-end retail stores, restaurants and a ferry system to shuttle people to Manhattan, and has long since left the transportation business, although he is still owner of the NY Waterways ferry, which he established in 1987. He is also the owner of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

Now in his mid-eighties, he is still doing deals and reading about him I can see how Ecclestone and he would get on. A deal between the two of them makes sense for both parties as Imperatore wants his district to be more glamorous. There would be financial benefits for him and the communities involved. Such a project would also support the F1 race in Austin. As in league with the Canadian and Brazilian races and probably a race in Mexico, it would create a much stronger TV package for the US time zone, and a better opportunity for F1 to build up its presence in the United States.

53 thoughts on “A second race in the US?

  1. America tends to look inwards when it comes to sport. F1 and football (soccer) have been a hard sell.
    However, America has a love of sports. They are great at putting on a show. I volunteered for the CART show on Belle Isle, Detroit for several years. I was very impressed.
    Can Bernie sell it? You can sell anything if the price is right!
    A few American drivers would help.
    John Mansfield

  2. AS ESPN’s motorsport writer Ed Hinton said in a chat two weeks ago when asked about the Austin F1 track “I’ve now heard rumors that Ecclestone is talking to people in New Jersey. What does that tell you about Austin?”

    1. Titus Pullo,

      It shows you that Bernie Ecclestone is cleverer than the man who wrote those words. To make it big in the US, F1 needs a concerted effort (as I have explained). The US media always writes off F1’s chances everywhere. They did the same with Indianapolis – and that might have worked if it had been run by someone other than Tony George.

  3. Thanks Joe, for continuing to provide genuine stories, of genuine interest to the community. Just a bit deeper than “Felipe pokes Lewis in the shoulder” – or “Massa-Hamilton off-track battle goes nuclear” as one esteemed source had it!

  4. A race in New York would cause more carnage than a race in London. It’s the disruption to city life, people won’t put up with it!

    Can’t see it happening personally.

  5. Wow, now *this* I like. NY is still almost feudal. Age is right. Money from land in the state, so no stranger to law and planning. Imperatore Jr no stranger to speaking out politically (based on quick search). . .

    only worry is, would this guy eat Bernie for breakfast, or see him eye to eye?

    Thanks Joe, i shall enjoy reading up on this one. When i was a boy walking with my dad, he’s point to the fences and gruff “Enclosures Acts”, and that led later to an interest in railroads, not the toy choo choo kind, but the bonds they issued, and thence into first typography (because of the printing of the bonds) thence publishing and all the way into finance.

    Today i learned (checks watch, yup today) that agencies don’t die, they get bought by WPP. Remember that pyramid. I also learned that 20 years is too short a time to reevaluate a grudge. But less of that here and now.

    I instinctively like this Arthur Imperatore Jr character. First sight of London proper took in the docks on a solo walk, (safer then than now, i assure you) not long after this man bought his waterfront. I can’t describe it, but I *wanted* it, somehow. I didn’t know then i don’t think, that my Uncle started working there before the ’20s came. Was the railroad stocks crash 1897 or was that the gold crash, i forget, they had a few in a row. My point being that this kind of man would be able to connect F1 in ways far subtler, to the place. Provided F1 listens.

    Huge, unwavering vote for this idea.

  6. Joe I think the 80s project went beyond six months talk and in fact resulted in a full engineering study and got down to the production of some portable barriers and othe parts in New York. Apparently there was considerabl amount of work carried out.
    My suggestion if you wanted to find out more of the story would be to contact a firm called Weathered Howe on the Gold Coast in Australia. They had developed experience in setting up a race circuit and pulling it down agian in designing and building the Surfers Paradise circuit for the Indy/CART races held there.
    A couple of points of interest were that it was a fairly early excercise in using CAD on one side of the world (Australia) using survey and measurements from the other side of the world using data linking.
    Don’t know if true or not but I understand the first use of the portable concrete bariers with their topping of debris fencing was around the ground zero site after 9/11.

  7. The proposed track is on an historic spot…just inside the back straight is the site of the Alexander Hamilton – Aaron Burr duel. which took place in 1804 on the “Plains of Weehawken”, at the time a ledge above the Hudson River. It is said that the ghost of Hamilton still lurks there. Off putting site at 200 mph I would think.

  8. Weehawken will be great if it happens (and if H Tilke is dispatched to explore circuit sites somewhere up near Vladivostok while it is being planned). I know that area a little bit, and it seems ideal — lots of relatively open land on the riverside for pits, paddock and grandstands, views of the Manhattan skyline just as the doctor ordered, and if they plan it right, some quite astonishing climbs up the cliffs on the New Jersey side.

    1. Ash,

      I believe that Tilke was sent to Vladivistok but sadly managed to find his way home as well. I’m told that there is a fancy circuit being built there, but I’m not sure why. Not for a GP, that’s for sure.

  9. Ed Hinton writes off all that is positive. A lovely trait of his that has certainly enhanced with age….as well as by his employer.

  10. I agree with John Mansfield, an American driver would be a real boon, but it’d have to be someone good. Saying that, there are enough top racing series in the US that one top driver surely could be lured by a big cash offer? They would be American after all.

    But if football, the most popular and successful sport in the world, can’t really find a big market, then how is something as complicated and niche as F1 gonna have a chance?

  11. I think the Americas can support another race and if it is packaged with Canada and Austin with Brazil all the better! Let’s hope it happens

    Pity about indianapolis was the teams lost the fans with the tire debacle!

  12. As someone who has lived on the proposed course, and still lives a couple of miles away. I think this has a chance of working. Like you said Joe, Imperatore has a great interest in building up his part of the “Gold Coast” and there is land/parking lots there that can be used for setup, garages, pits, and stands. The streets are wide enough (although I’m not sure where there southern turn around is) and the proposed map I’ve seen uses both the waterfront and the top of the palisades next to it, making for some fun elevation changes. My only concern is this is an area that uses every bit of on street parking, and closing things for a couple of days could be tough. Love to see it happen though, it would look great on TV

  13. Wasn’t 1 of the reasons used for justifying the Austin track that they would draw a large # of visitors from Mexico and Central America?
    I gotta believe the addition of Mexico would throw that in the bin.
    Oh well, as long as it’s only Texas $$$ being flushed, no biggie for me.

  14. He is also the owner of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

    I don’t think he’s still involved in the team unless it is as a minor shareholder. The Devils have been in the sports news lately in Canada because of their dire financial situation.

    The US media always writes off F1′s chances everywhere. They did the same with Indianapolis – and that might have worked if it had been run by someone other than Tony George.

    Wasn’t there also a major problem with FOM’s rules on media coverage with sports networks not allowed to show highlights and many US reporters unable to get credentials to attend and thus virtually no publicity?

  15. If it is going to be a true street circuit I suppose Herr Tilke would be only left to design the pit building. It’s an interesting area to explore using Google Street View.

  16. Too bad about Honda, Toyota, and BMW having packed it in. The more manufacturers in F1, the more pressure to have a big presence in North America. Not sure why there’s doubt about it’s success here. Perhaps I was dreaming, but I seem to recall F1-Indy outdrawing any of the others (pre-tiregate, anyway). Seems obvious that the more races in America, the greater the following will be. (Assuming good venues and proper marketing, etc.) American drivers would be nice, but not essential. (With a greater F1 presences, American drivers and teams would naturally follow. It won’t happen the other way around.) What matters is the races. Austin, NY, Calif, return to Indy, and one in the Southeast. Canada and Mexico makes 7. Lucky number, and still fewer races than Europe. They wouldn’t so much have to make it work as they would have to just not screw it up. Americans like loud cars that go fast. Simple as that, really…

  17. Go Bernie .. he’s like a jack russell with a ferret in its mouth when it comes to Noo York. Makes sense though if, as you point out, it can be tied in with the other races inc. Mexico. (what about Argentina as well?) If you really want to get the Americans involved it can’t just be a one off event (or two) it just doesn’t work, a mini series of 5 or so races would really draw them in over a few years.

  18. Two US races sounds good. It might help to get Americans attracted to F1 better than only one race. I think NY race would be good for F1, NY is World’s business capital, so maybe New York GP would attract new sponsors.

  19. Joe, what do you think of Daytona as a F1 venue? When playing around with my (Saward inspired) dream F1 calendar I was thinking Florida would make a nice triangle with Montreal and California (Leguna Seca).

    More generally, why shouldn’t F1 consider racing on an oval like Indy?

  20. (Brit living in the USA) Americans won’t watch in big numbers until there are Americans winning. Can anyone name an international sport that Americans watch in large numbers where Americans consistently don’t win? Didn’t think so. They get up and leave halfway through if their team isn’t going to win – there’s no pride in supporting an Accrington Stanley.

    They focus almost exclusively on domestic sports in part because Americans always win – they are always World Champions (at American Football) and World Champions (at baseball).

    If there’s a race in New Jersey at tickets prices like the 2005 Indianapolis GP I attended, I’ll be there in a heartbeat. Silverstone prices? Forget it.

  21. Tony George is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but he had nothing to do with the two biggest problems the USGP at Indy had: 1) Schumacher giving the win to Barrichello upset a lot of people and 2) the Michelin tire debacle. Plus several years ago ESPN stopped broadcasting F1 races, saying it was too hard to get these guys to cooperate with them. And in this country, you think long and hard about losing the self proclaimed “worldwide leader” because they will ignore you if you are not on them (and even ignore you if you are, like IndyCar has found out).

    If American journalists are skeptical about F1, in part is because of the long list of locations that have ultimately failed: Sebring, Watkins Glen, Long Beach, Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix, Detroit and Indianapolis. What is going to be different about the NYC area, the part of the country that has the least interest in auto racing? I once mentioned Michael Schumacher to a WFAN host about 8 years ago. He told me that he didn’t know who that was.

    Perhaps you should talk to Don Cherry about his experoiences working for Imperatore three decades ago in Colorado.

    I give this race a 2% chance of ever happening and a 0.00001% of lasting a decade.

    1. Titus,

      Great to see you are so positive. I just don’t understand how it is that in “the land of opportunity” there are so many naysayers these days.

  22. All the races in the US won’t matter unless there is an American driver to keep the eyeballs interested when the sport is abroad. And not just any driver, a likable, winning driver. That’s why Scott Speed didn’t help matters much. He was likable, but American’s like winners, and Speed never even scored a point, let alone threatened victory. Since few American’s are willing to move to Europe to race in the premier feeder series, the odds aren’t getting any better either. Marco Andretti once seemed like the best hope, but his father’s ugly tenure at McLaren seemed to sour the family on F1. Then Graham Rahal seemed the best hope (an IndyCar winner as a teenager), especially since his father spent time in F1 with Jaguar, but he’s made little progress in IndyCar, so a jump to F1 seems a silly notion at this point. That leaves Alex Rossi as the lone American hope. Rossi has been very good, 4th in GP3 last season, and 4th in Formula Renault this season. Plus he’s only 20, 1-2 years younger than most of the other F1 hopefuls with similar credentials. He may well be an F1 driver, but getting a credible drive is difficult for even the most accomplished youngsters.

  23. RShack,

    i don’t get you, and not being funny at all. no negative thoughts here. Do you mean bring back tire competition? I’m really for a mix up with the style of racing people like over the pond. I honestly don’t understand it, but i do know there’s lots of care given to it, and exciting races. I am super behind the idea that there should be a corralled F1 thing, where people can get in a car and try to race. Wherever they like. I genuinely think, for all the switcharoo complaints we have about say e.g. MS in recent races, that we can do basic safety so much better now, that we can let more rookies in. Well, basically, i think that F1 is every bit as ballsy as any oval circuit, but can’t we settle that by giving them a go? Long story short, are you up for some of that? I’d love it if you could ask some drivers the same question your side of racing. Think we’d have a challenge there. of the good kind. This is the opposite of taking some mickey out of American tracks, i would so much like them to be part of F1 again, they have been before, was wonderful. .- j

  24. John (other John)

    > RShack,
    >
    > i don’t get you, and not being funny at all. no negative thoughts here. Do
    > you mean bring back tire competition?

    No. The tiregate reference was to the Michelin debacle that single-handedly sunk F1-Indy. (The last four letters of “Watergate” has become a suffix connoting scandal.)

    > I’m really for a mix up with the style of racing people like over the pond. I
    > honestly don’t understand it, but i do know there’s lots of care given to it,
    > and exciting races.

    While there certainly is a group that favors racing in circles, the American allegiance to oval track racing is overstated. Both NASCAR and INDYCAR also compete on road tracks which require turning both ways. The great success of NASCAR is due to better treatment of fans. (It’s original appeal of seeing modified stock cars go fast is by now ancient history, as there are zero ties between the race cars and production vehicles. In fact, production cars are more technically advances than are the racing relics.) It’s success is largely due to good marketing, reasonable ticket prices, and general respect for the importance of paying fans. F1 does not seem to evidence any of those three. There are many ways in which the success of F1 is a triumph of quality over a management that seems primarily concerned with the extraction of treasure for themselves.

    Another benefit that NASCAR enjoys is that it doesn’t take 2 weeks off after most every race, and certainly doesn’t stop for a friggin’ month (!!!) just when things are solidly underway. I’m sure there are many justifications for such things from those in the know, but from the perspective of maintaining top-intensity fan interest, the scheduling is counterproductive.

    I understand the travel distances are inconsistent with a NASCAR-like schedule, but the call for fewer races I hear from time to time is incomprehensible to me. (I believe our fearless leader here prefers fewer races. This is the only known instance of me disagreeing with the views he expresses.) IMO, they should schedule races geographically in a way that would permit ~3 races per month and ~25 per year. I don’t see how F1 can properly serve its various markets with fewer. Add up the races needed to properly serve Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Etceteras… what number do you come up with?

    Regarding the racing itself, like many Americans I am not a great fan of oval track racing. However, I can appreciate the legitimate sporting (and exciting) aspects of it. I also appreciate that many oval tracks permit attendees to view the entire race rather than just isolated vignettes of it. While the Austin track will not provide this benefit in full, I hopefully expect it to provide superior sight lines to most F1 tracks. (I was disappointed that F1-Indy’s track design ignored blatantly obvious possibilities to make sight lines far better than they actually were. (While I think Tony George has earned the guillotine, I doubt this was down to him.) While there is no substitute for the ambience of a race on site, the actual racing of F1 is best seen on TV. If you should ever decide to attend a NASCAR oval track race, go to Bristol. (Really, no kidding.) But watch a few on the tube first, just to get acclimated to the good features of the action, the genre’s strategy and tactics, and the various important subplots (think McLaren-Ferrari and Mika-Michael combined with a bit of Hatfield-McCoys 😉

    > Well, basically, i think that F1 is every bit as ballsy as any oval circuit…

    I certainly agree in principle. However, I couldn’t help but notice the convoluted trouble they went to at Indy to keep the darlings away from the wall when at speed. (I’m sure Mario, Gurney, AJ, and Parnelli all snickered. But fans didn’t snicker, as the main result for us was to greatly reduce the percentage of seats having decent sight lines near the racing.)

    > … but can’t we settle that by giving them a go? Long story short, are you
    > up for some of that?

    There were two races a Monza in the late 50’s that put F1 and Indy cars against each other. That’s what we could use more of (but not just on an oval). ‘Not a snowball’s chance in hell, I’m afraid. In fact, I suspect it’s not a coincidence that there are exactly zero venues shared between the two series.

    As for driver vs. driver, it would be great to have drivers of all stripes in a series that includes various venues and classes of cars. I’m afraid recent wealth likely precludes the involvement of the best, just as modern times prevents the range of experience we saw from the likes of Gurney and Mario… and from Clark, Stewart, and Hill for that matter.

    > I’d love it if you could ask some drivers the same question your side of
    > racing. Think we’d have a challenge there. of the good kind.

    While some NASCAR drivers make no reference to F1 (and some likely know little or nothing about it), more than a few have been quite open about their awareness of and interest in F1. Any rising young star who shows the least bit of road course talent is asked if he has F1 aspirations. In INDYCAR, the greater presence of non-US drivers means F1 interest is even greater there. For the most part, drivers like driving and competitors like competing. If it was truly up to them, I think we’d be much more likely to see such things. Problem is they have contracts, and managers, and accountants, and all the rest whose main concern is something other than going faster than the next guy. A shame really. It’s the money that does it.

    > This is the opposite of taking some mickey out of American tracks, i would
    > so much like them to be part of F1 again, they have been before, was
    > wonderful.

    I want to see Americans in F1. However, it’s just wishful thinking to expect the best American drivers to go to F1 *before* a few years after F1 comes to America in a serious fashion. In the old days, racing drivers expected to live hand-to-mouth wherever they raced, so for Phil Hill and Dan Gurney to go to Europe was not a great sacrifice. Today, an American with talent faces far better chances of success by avoiding F1 and its feeder series altogether.

    I doubt that any specific effort to find American drivers will change that. IMO, the only thing likely to change it is to establish F1 as a real presence in America. While a race or two is a good start, that won’t do the job. (How successful would F1 be in Europe with only one or two races?) Given a continent’s worth of races, each on a good course with proper handling of the fans and of TV, I think the prospects would be excellent.

    In many ways (but not all), Formula 1 deserves the connotation of the numeral “1” in its name. Too bad F1 doesn’t take seriously the need to demonstrate that to the most important consumer market on the planet. Reminds me of Renault (or was it Peugeot?) complaining that “Americans don’t appreciate our cars”… as they went home with their tail between their legs. Seems like the same kind of attitude to me. Competition with NASCAR or INDYCAR won’t stop F1 from being the cream of the crop over here… or from attracting the cream of the crop of American drivers. What prevents that is the behavior of F1 itself.

    The basic cause is that F1 is simply not willing to compete. If it wanted success in America, if it wanted the best American teams and the best American drivers, it could earn them. But that’s not what F1 wants. F1 would rather have a new venue in some obscure place where nobody knows how to go fast. Doing that requires no competition, just the collection exorbitant fees. (All of which is a bit ironic, given the crucial role of competition within F1.) As a result, F1 has a few fast Germans, a couple of fast Brits and Brazilians, and a fast Spaniard and Italian… but it doesn’t have fast Americans. That won’t change unless and until F1 decides to compete.

  25. “Joe – any news on which race would fall away to make room for the 2nd US race?”

    I reckon the calendar could reasonably be made up of thirty races: ten that are held on a yearly basis, and twenty that alternate with one another from year to year.

  26. John Other
    I think you got the wrong end of the stick there with RShack, he just mentioned tyregate (or tiregate) as a point in time, before which the US was drawn to F1. His main point was that the withdrawal of the motor manufacturers from the sport was not helping a comeback for F1 in the USA, but that more races there will help to re-establish it’s popularity.

    One would have thought that Long Beach California would be a high profile contender, but maybe they don’t have the money. (Didn’t it go nearly bankrupt near the end of Arnie’s reign? )

  27. Maybe I’m thick, but wouldn’t it be better to have a decent race than a panoramic vista? I.e., selecting a particular locale for how it looks on TV means nothing if the race is dull. People thought “IMS” and “F1” would go together like peanut butter and jelly, but the infield track was dull and slow, hardly interesting to a crowd accustomed to 227 down a front straight for 500 miles. Am I more excited as a casual fan if I see a familiar skyline or I I’m on the edge of my seat.

  28. Okay guys, i was 180deg off last night, rpaco and RShack had it better than me. Sorry for being slack in admitting that. RShack’s reply is awesome, something to take in.

    I shall definitely have a fresh think, and go good re- read of your comments. Thanks to both of you.

    – john

  29. I’m all for it. Pity America has lost its balls, except when it comes to developing weapons for – and fighting – foreign wars. If only all that ingenuity and innovative talent was put to some more productive use such as… hmm let me think… F1.
    Additionally multiple, and consecutive, races in America would open the possibility of championships within championships – the American championship, the European, the Asian etc which might provide a bit of stimulus and excitement in season given the length of the current calendar.

  30. rpaco,

    > One would have thought that Long Beach California
    > would be a high profile contender, but maybe they don’t
    > have the money. (Didn’t it go nearly bankrupt near the
    > end of Arnie’s reign? )

    I might have this wrong, but my recollection is that the Long Beach promoters got sick of losing money from paying Bernie’s ransom. On their own initiative, they switched from F1 to CART (the former Indy series organization that was destroyed by Tony George’s idiocy) and thereafter had both good races and a bit of money in the bank. (What a concept!)

  31. Scott Bloom,

    > Maybe I’m thick, but wouldn’t it be better to have a decent
    > race than a panoramic vista?

    Seems like a false choice to me. Best to have both. Having a race on Jersey’s side of the river dictates neither a poor track nor lousy races.

    Having said that, if I were king I’d opt for an F1 race in Central Park. It won’t happen for all manner of silly (to me) reasons. But if you look at the layout of extant roads in Central Park, there are several ways to lay out road courses. (Map: http://gonyc.about.com/od/maps/l/blcentralpark.htm ) To help provide scale, the longest possible outer loop within the park is a bit over 6 miles. You can see various options for layouts in the range of 2.5 to 4 miles…

  32. Having lived in or near Austin since 1968 I couldn’t have been more excited to have my favorite sport come back to the US in my backyard. I would love to have another race here aw well but let’s not get the cart before the horse. This still has to work here before anything else should/could be considered. Also, I don’t see a race in Mexico. The drug cartels down there are just too powerful and it’s too corrupt IMHO.

    The problem with Soccer and F1 in the US is that we already have many many sports to shose from to watch on TV. We get behind soccer when the World Cup comes along especially on the womens side due to the US womens soccer is better than the men. And we watch our motosports it’s just that NASCAR is king (better marketing as someone has stated above) but there are a great many fans of F1 here as well.

    I want to see F1 thrive in the US and the only way I know how is to make sure the race and Track here in Austin is marketed properly so that all Americans get a chance to see what’s coming uur way.

  33. Very funny feeling, being effectively speechless. But as i noted in a later comment, another discussion, i got schooled. And it was Good. Thanks once again to rpaco and RShack.

    Outsider looking in, i get my knickers in a twist wondering how native USians can get themselves loving some F1. I just reckon the whole pitch is wrong, broken, from the outset. Wouldn’t it be lovely if someone from there thought STR a bargain? After all, the game is changing now. I have just been beautifully reminded, that you simply cannot suss this unless on the ground. Thought i had a head start what with a cous of mine, Yorkshire boy, owned bottling plant, got installed in corner office in Atlanta . . No excuses, you have to be there, and paying attention.

    side thought, for rpaco, i am not entirely sure Arnie messed it all up. There are some nutty union and public service laws in CA, think ruination of our parts in the late 60s. Then again, he could have listened to Warren, who is a full on Keynsian in another garb, a little much. Two stats i keep reminding myself of: CA econ > Japan. Texas’ square mileage > Europe > China. (give or take a yard). I knew the first one since a kid, paying attention to tech firms (writing aged 13, saying “please hire me”, quite impossible for normal reasons) but somehow the second slipped my attention. Not just TI, AMD and WalMart.

    thanks guys, most enjoyable thing.

    – john

  34. John (other John),

    > Wouldn’t it be lovely if someone from there thought STR a bargain?

    That could happen… if only it was a bargain. Don’t expect to see substantial American racer types lining up to pay so they can guarantee further losses indefinitely. The basic obstacle is that American teams’ definition of success includes being able to make money. The idea that they can make their money elsewhere and then use racing to lose it doesn’t have much legitimacy among the good ones. They operate in profitable ways.

    Who does that in F1? This is a real question. I know nothing about who makes money at it. I assume McLaren and Ferrari make large sums, but I don’t really know. Who else among the teams uses F1 to make money?

    > There are some nutty union and public service laws in CA, think
    > ruination of our parts in the late 60s.

    Whatever local insanity may have been in effect at Long Beach back then, it did not harm racing there. The race was not short-lived, only the promoters’ willingness to meet Bernie’s demands. After a few years as an F1 venue, and quite early in Bernie’s tenure, the Long Beach organizers decided that the kind of financial setup Bernie was imposing on venues would be suicidal for them. So, the Long Beach Grand Prix became a CART race in ’84 (morphing into IndyCar a couple years ago). Next year will be its 38th consecutive year of street racing. It’s contract with the city runs through 2015 with an option for another 5 years.

    Long Beach is not unique, as IndyCar has more street races than does F1. Of its 17 races this year, 7 were oval or speedway races. Of the 10 road races, 4 were on public streets: Long Beach CA, St. Petersburg FL, Sao Paulo BR, and a new street race in Baltimore MD. The Baltimore race drew upwards of 75,000, and that was limited by capacity. As with Long Beach, the Baltimore Grand Prix festival will pay its freight with affordable tickets or it will cease to exist. Nobody there is paying $40 million for the honor of hosting the race, just as nobody there is paying too much for a seat. Grandstand tickets covering all three days range from $60 to $160 (tack on $55 for a paddock pass). Those wishing to spend more (mostly corporate hospitality types) choose among upscale 3-day terrace and balcony passes from $425 to $895. Something for everyone.

    My point here is not to pimp for IndyCar. While I am happy to see American open-wheel racing continue its recovery from the decades of damage inflicted by Tony George, my favorite by far is F1. My point is that open-wheel road racing can and will be healthy in the US. The unresolved question is whether F1 will claim more than just a token slice of it. As stated before, the way to do that is to invest, not extract. The extraction approach may work elsewhere but it won’t succeed in American racing.

    Not saying what “should” or “should not” work, just my sense of what will and won’t work. IMO, way too much is wrong with the US these days, and much of it is due to the “extraction of wealth” approach (rather than the approach of constructively building things). In recent decades, this disease has been adopted at many levels, from Wall Street on down. So, I’m certainly not saying America is above it, only that I don’t think it will work for racing here, as we do have alternate choices beyond what most have. Now, I certainly wish and hope that F1 will rise to meet that challenge, and I am confident it could do so if it decided to be serious about it, but I see no reason to expect F1 to suddenly get serious about it.

    The internecine destruction of US open-wheel racing caused by Tony George was the perfect opportunity for F1 to swoop in and take it all. F1 was full of major car manufacturers who wanted a strong presence in the US at a time when the entirely of open-wheel racing in America was in shambles and there for the taking. But Bernie held firm. He was not interested in investment (unless you believe a discount on crazy-high fees is the same as serious investment). He preferred globetrotting to see who would pay his tribute. One can only wonder if the manufacturers would still be in F1 had Bernie been looking after the sport and its stakeholders rather than focusing on opportunities for short-term wealth-extraction.

    > Two stats i keep reminding myself of: CA econ > Japan.
    > Texas’ square mileage > Europe > China. (give or take a yard).
    > I knew the first one since a kid, paying attention to tech firms
    > (writing aged 13, saying “please hire me”, quite impossible for
    > normal reasons) but somehow the second slipped my attention.
    > Not just TI, AMD and WalMart.

    The 2nd one may have slipped your attention because its not even near to being true 😉

    China, USA, and Europe all have approximately the same area. (Parity is due to the addition of Alaska in 1959 which expanded US area by more than 20%) Texas comprises only about 7% of America’s area (and a comparable proportion of China). It’s roughly the size of the UK, Ireland and Germany combined. So, it’s big… but not that big.

    Also, Walmart is next door in Arkansas. Don’t feel bad about the geo-confusion. We’re the people who place North Carolina in the South, South Dakota in the North, West Virginia in the East, and Kansas City in Missouri instead of Kansas. We also use “Midwest” as a label for the center of the Eastern half of the nation. It’s hopeless 😉

  35. As to the American non-motorsports-fan, I’m skeptical about F1 generating greatly more interest than Indycar. And, Indycar boss Randy Bernard for sure doesn’t want F1 back to Indy, seeing it as competition, and probably doesn’t want it back stateside at all, for the same reason. I believe Bernie had it right when he once said something like, ‘nascar-shmascar, motor racing in any form is just not a big sport in the USA.’
    Now that Austin has bitten Bernie’s apple and is committed for 10 years, it all rests there. Seems to me they’re really pinning their hopes for success on massive foreign attendance.

  36. Anthony (@PTaruffi),

    > Indycar boss Randy Bernard for sure doesn’t want F1
    > back to Indy, seeing it as competition, and probably doesn’t
    > want it back stateside at all, for the same reason.

    Of course he doesn’t. The man’s not a fool. But who cares what he wants? He’s not exactly a major force to be reckoned with.

    If F1 has serious intentions over here, they will have an easier path if they move decisively before IndyCar can fully recover from its fifteen years of self-destruction. IndyCar has basically lost a whole generation of new fans. If F1 waits, success will require more investment and patience.

    > I believe Bernie had it right when he once said something
    > like, ‘nascar-shmascar, motor racing in any form is just
    > not a big sport in the USA.’

    Selective use of facts can create that false illusion. If you compare total car racing attendance to things like pro and college football and major league baseball, total attendance pales. But such comparisons are flawed due to the great discrepancy in the total number of events. Major League Baseball alone has ~2,500 events, so its total attendance is certain to outdraw racing.

    It’s more useful to compare car-racing attendance in North America vs. Europe vs. Asia. That’s the proper way to look at it.

    Viewed in that light, I expect the facts prove Bernie wrong. Before the IRL’s war on CART, race day at the Indy 500 placed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (not Indianapolis but just the race track) among America’s top 40 cities with a population of 400,000 people. Even with the 500 in its currently diminished state, it still draws 250,000. Several NASCAR venues routinely draw capacity crowds above 120,000 for ordinary races. The F1 show at Indy drew between 185,000 and 200,000+ until Michael threw the race. Thereafter it continued to draw ~120,000 despite minimal marketing, despite two of eight races being ruined by outrageous non-sporting behavior, and despite F1 having a history of focusing on its American audience in a way that has been negligent at best.

    When you compare American car racing attendance with that seen around the world, I think it’s hard to argue that the US is not at the top when it comes to people attending car races. If you think this not true, what kind of race attendance numbers would you need to see?

    Not sure how car-race attendance totals compare between Europe and the US, but I’d guess the US does better by a stout margin. I’d love to see facts if anyone has them. (And if I’m wrong, I prefer my crow broiled, not fried 😉

    > Now that Austin has bitten Bernie’s apple and is committed
    > for 10 years, it all rests there. Seems to me they’re really
    > pinning their hopes for success on massive foreign attendance.

    Depends 100% on the prices. One thing Tony George did correctly was pricing his F1 tickets. If the Austin people charge much more, they will make themselves dependent on visitors from elsewhere. Since we don’t know how much they must pay Bernie, we don’t know how much freedom they have to make good decisions. We’re still waiting to see what the ticket prices will be…

  37. It’s the first weekend in October and here in Western New York there are blazes of yellow, brown, red and gold among the slowly fading green leaves of summer. Michael Turner used to do the posters for the USGP every year in the late sixties and into the seventies and those leaves would always be a prominent part of every one of his paintings.

    That was a wonderful era. Each October a massive crowd would find its way to the Finger Lakes and climb up the hill from Watkins or from Montour Falls to the track. There was a time we drove, on the day, from New Jersey and had to park on the dirt road by a ditch and walk a mile or two. Other times we got there on Friday and camped; with the rain, the snow, the 80F heat – all, sometimes, in one weekend. The crowd for the USGP would be over 100,000; I believe that 100,00 was primarily US residents… this was before, when air travel was not as commonplace as now where thousands can descend upon, say, SIngapore. These were US F1 Fans

    The reason we were told, for the event no longer happening, was that F1 didn’t think the “TV market” at the Glen was big enough for F1. [Note – Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse are within 1.5 hours of Watkins. Combined I think they are about twice the size of Austin]. Plus, the track could not pay the increased fees I believe. So they killed the original USGP. I was there for most of those from 1963 to the last one in (iirc) 1980 (skipping a few years while living in the west). As far as I’m concerned, F1 itself killed off a massive – huge – crowd of support for F1 in the US.

    Clay Reggazoni and Niki Lauda absolutely dominated the USGP West in Long Beach 1976. I have a t-shirt from that event somewhere that I think my grandson could fit into (I cannot). It wasn’t quite so professional then – a street circuit assembled quickly for the weekend has so many spaces where stupid spectators (me) can get so much closer. Y’know, todays F1 cars are just astonishingly fast, but watching Hunt go through the squiggly bits (9-10-11 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Circuit_Long_Beach.png) left me in awe.

    In 1977 I was so fortunate to have seats at the hairpin and see Mario pass for the lead on the 77th of 80 laps. There were 70,000 spectators there that day.

    But F1 priced itself out. Does anone even remember F1 at Long Beach? Its legacy is now IndyCar isn’t it? No more Matra V12 astonishing your eardrums.

    So I migrated to the East and Montreal. About seven hours away with economical lodgings the other side of the river in Boucherville and great night fun in Le Vieux Port in the city. Every F1 fan needs to experience this place!

    When we first started going there in 1992 the price was unremarkable – no idea actually. That first time was General Admission; you could get a great view of the track. Now it is criminal – you pay your money but there are only a few feet of fence where you see the top of a car… IF you are in the front row of dozens of people. The stands are really really good in Montreal. But the costs have become astronomical – $300 to $500 when I went to get tickets this year. I didn’t go.

    Looking today, I see that the Bronze seats (they sell out quickly) are about $250. I think I’ll go. Last year of the non-turbo formula. I *really* hope we get good noise from the new turbo formula. I stopped being interested in Indycar when I went to Mid Ohio and found them so undewhelming. My old Neon makes more noise I think. Whereas the sound (up against the fence) of an F1 car at 20,000 rpm doing a blindingly fast set of downshifts to the chicane / Montreal Wall of Champions remains one of the ultimate motorsport experiences.

    So. I’m an idiot F1 Fan in the US and I am thrilled about Austin (or Weehawken, Bayonne, Jersey City, and so on)… but very wary of F1 returning to the US. Too many times we have come to and adopted the event only to have it pulled away.

    There are two aspects that matter when it comes to the success of a Grand Prix in (what is essentially) a new country: money and culture. In this post it’s been mostly money and how F1 has hurt itself. Culture is a bigger influence on success.

    We used to have a hundred thousand at the Glen. What will we have in the future?

    Later.

    Keith

  38. I think I need to follow that rather sentimental post with comments about culture and how F1 plays in the USA.

    At a recent IBM conference we attended one speaker asserted “culture eats strategy for lunch”. Ouch! But so often true.

    So often I read about an Anglo-European perspective on the US (and strategies) but I get a sense there is little appreciation for the cultural difference.

    This is a vastly different place to, say, the UK. For example, the dominant newspaper – NY Times – rarely mentions any motorsports at all, never mind F1. Then, if you navigate to, say, the Buffalo News in Sports > Other Sports > Auto Racing you will find results at the local speedway. Not likely F1.

    So, that said, is there hope? Well, yes!! If it is done right: This is a very big country. Out of 300 million people there are certainly enough to fill an F1 track and to create a culture that grows and grows. To do so requires a very solid strategy (or, see lunch quote above).

    We are dealing with a country that today equates “auto racing” and NASCAR. It may acknowledge them funny furrin formulaone cars… essentially any open-wheeled racing car. But for most F1 is a niche out of the sports mainstream.

    In order to succeed F1 needs to re-establish a culture to rival that of Watkins Glen in its heyday. That means:
    – grow the culture: each year attendees bring new people. It has to be persistent and it will take YEARS to happen. Patience.
    – make it affordable
    – become known. I know who, say, Jaime Alguersuari is but who else in this country does? Man in the street wouldn’t know Lewis!
    – TV. Has to change to be accessible. Compare to NASCAR TV which is informative without being too dumbed down. (I try and watch ALMS and am at a loss as to how is who and where they are)

    That’s just a few things. Main point – the effort must be persistent. Based on the Turkey experience I’m not sure F1 is up to it. I really really really wish it will work in the USA. I’ll make the 27 hour drive happily. As long as I can afford it and as long as it lasts.

    I really hope so.

    Keith

  39. Keith Crossley,

    I liked your comments all in all… but not sure about a couple bits… among them…

    >> In order to succeed F1 needs to re-establish a culture to rival
    >> that of Watkins Glen in its heyday. That means:
    >> – grow the culture: each year attendees bring new people. It
    >> has to be persistent and it will take YEARS to happen. Patience.

    Patience, yes. But this need not be a slow word-of-mouth-thing like the Glen was. Modern times is different, things can and will develop faster. Remember, they had ~200,000 at F1-Indy until F1 screwed it up… twice…

    >> – make it affordable

    Yes, definitely… a key thing… and, since that appears to be up to Bernie, fat chance…

    > – become known. I know who, say, Jaime Alguersuari is but who else
    > else in this country does? Man in the street wouldn’t know Lewis!

    Well, part of this is down to the things that are not quite “1” about F1. Face it, Jaime has no prayer of winning even a dang race, let alone more, and it’s not his fault… for all the elitism (in the positive sense) that properly belongs in F1, only 3 teams have a chance to win a single race (barring freaks or miracles)… each race is largely among 5 cars (would be 6 had they not ripped Felipe’s heart out), plus more-than-several moving chicanes… so, no reason for most to know any names beyond Lewis, Button, Vettel, Webber, and Alonzo (plus Michael for the historians)… would be a better sport if there were more actual competitors for just an individual race win… hard to call it F1 when so few are in the race and so many are completely out of it… a better name might be “F1 and the Seven Dwarfs” ?

    > – TV. Has to change to be accessible. Compare to NASCAR TV
    > which is informative without being too dumbed down. (I try and
    > watch ALMS and am at a loss as to how is who and where they are)

    But this is infinitely better already… the F1 crew on SpeedTV is excellent… anyone with cable or satellite (which is nearly everyone) can see all the F1 there is if they choose to, and it’s done well… FOX puts ~4 races on the main network with the rest on SpeedTV. FOX has ditched the crappy Derek Daily excuse for race announcing and is using the proper trio from SpeedTV on all the races… even my wife (who’s level of car acumen is revealed by her inability to treat the go pedal as anything but an on/off switch) loves to watch F1 with those guys… I asked her why, she says it’s because it’s good (and rare) to hear people with real expertise on TV… she is right about that… so, the TV picture is infinitely better than it was in the Watkins Glen era… the only issue is the number of races on FOX vs. on SpeedTV… and that can change at the whim of FOX (which owns SpeedTV)…

    Of course it’s made much more difficult by F1’s insistence on airing races at times that require most of America to get out of bed at oh-dark-thirty. I think that more than anything reveals how much Bernie dismisses North America. How would the Brits like it if the races came on at 4:30, 5:30 or 6:30 in the morning? That’s what F1 offers to most of the US…

    > That’s just a few things. Main point – the effort must be persistent.

    Yes, this is key… and is something that F1 has never shown here after it abandoned the crowds at Watkins Glen. Seems as if F1 mildly prefers to have the US want them without F1 wanting the US… continuance of that attitude will guarantee it to be Formula Failure here…

    > Based on the Turkey experience I’m not sure F1 is up to it.

    That sad example is the epitome of Bernie’s short-term thinking. (And that track has the wonderful “Diabolica” turn… pity we’ll see that no more… )

  40. Thanks RShack, i really appreciated that!

    sorry I got lost as Joe’s output just became uprated seriously onto another plane. I do check back often as can . .

    Thanks for the state / stats check. For me, Texas is scary big. Especially when offering Presidents 🙂 (I blame it all on having to do metric conversions!)

    I had been wondering a long while why F1 manufacturers suddenly stopped doing anything in the States. Your angle is going to get me off reading proper books, instead of speculating. Thanks again – j

  41. Regarding the 1st F1 race in the US…

    Not counting the Indy 500 (in which F1 didn’t participate despite the status and the points), this weekend is the 50th anniversary of F1’s beginnings in the US at Watkins Glen.

    It was marred by Ferrari’s decision to not bother. With the year’s championship already in his pocket, Enzo decided to thank Phil Hill by depriving him of the honor of driving in his home GP. Made Hill mad as hell. Nothing he could do about it, so he rode around in a T-bird on the parade lap instead instead of doing what he wanted to do, which was to compete for victory in his home country’s inaugural proper F1 race…

  42. Old Tony the company Weathered Howe pty ltd was sold to the international engineering consultancy Hyder Consulting in 2005.The principal of Weathered Howe …john howe now operates through a new company iEDM pty ltd. This company is also associated with temporary street circuit design and delivery and has completed some interesting new street circuits .

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