Debate: Where should the US Grand Prix be held?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis, 2005, startThe Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s contract to hold the United States Grand Prix runs out this year – should it get an extension on the contract? Or should the race be held somewhere else.

The circuit has been criticised for being too unchallenging for the drivers and not worthy of the evocative name ‘Indianapolis’.

But American race fans have had plenty to complain about as well. The 2002 race was reduced to a farce as Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello tried to engineer a dead heat finish.

Three years later only six of the 22 cars started the race after the Michelin-shod teams were forced to withdraw for safety reasons.

The nine different venues that have held the Grands Prix in the United States are listed below. There are many other great tracks in America not yet visited by F1 – such as the fantastic Road America circuit.

The United States also has a healthy appetite for street circuits, which F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is keen to see more of on the F1 calendar.

So what venue would best suit the United States Grand Prix?

Mario Andretti, Lotus-Cosworth, Long Beach, 1977Indianapolis Motor Speedway – oval (1950-60)
Sebring (1959)
Riverside (1960)
Watkins Glen (1961-80)
Long Beach (1975-83)
Detroit (1982-7)
Caeser’s Palace Hotel, Las Vegas (1981-2)
State Fair Park, Dallas (1984)
Pheonix (1989-91)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway – road course (2000-)

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50 comments on “Debate: Where should the US Grand Prix be held?”

  1. I know it’s not on your list, but the US race should be held at Laguna Seca in my opinion. The circuit is fantastic, and I seem to remember a Toyota running around the place recently as a PR stunt and broke the lap record. It would just be a joy to watch cars run up to the corkscrew, and much like turn one in Montreal, I think a fair few cars would have difficulty getting through while still on the tarmac.

    I personally find Indianapolis a bit of a joke. It isn’t really a racing circuit because of the silly mickey mouse infield. But then, if the cars ran exclusively on the oval I would probably be bored. The oval deserves its place in the history books, but the F1 configuration needs to be turned into an ornamental garden.

    1. Laguna Seca would be fantastic. It’s tough access, 2 lane road in and out… But Monterey has a lot of hotels for spectators. It’s such a beautiful venue. If F1 is ever going to get big in the US, they need a stable signature event. The venue matches the F1 brand in the way that Indy and Long Beach do not…

  2. Id like to see F1 at Laguna Seca too, classic track.

  3. My vote for Laguna Seca too. But only because it’s unlikely that Long Beach would have F1 back…

  4. Long Beach is a very boring race no matter what series race there. I think Laguna is the best track as it does have a history and I believe most people around the world know of it due to the signature corkscrew turn. F1 drivers would like it for its high speed turns and tough braking area leading up the hill which should be good for passing.

    I think Road America would have the same complaint that Indy does as being a very easy track for that type of race car.

    For the record Toyota test driver did run a couple laps at Laguna and set a record lap but that was soon broken by Sebastian Bourdais, granted that was with a few more HP, a power to pass button, and slick tires.

  5. For some reason unclear even to myself I enjoy the F1 races at Indy.

  6. I would have to say Laguna Seca as well. The track is classic and is in a great area. I wouldnt mind Long Beach, boring as it is, because I only live about 20 minutes away. That said I would put in the 6hr drive to get to Laguna Seca to see F1 cars lap the corkscrew

  7. Poleshitter
    14th June 2007, 17:56

    Laguna would be great, but my vote goes to the streets of San Francisco.

  8. I’d like to see an F1 race at Road America because there are a couple of long straights that could create overtaking. The problem with Road America though is the amount of spectator viewing is heavily restricted.

  9. Restricted spectator viewing at Road America? Have you ever actually been there? I cannot think of any corner on the track that I would not be able to find a good spot to watch from. About the only place that is really difficult to get to is the Kink.

    Unfortunately Bernie will never let F1 come to Road America. The place is too remote, the facilities too primitive. And I fear if they were to bring the track up to modern F1 standards the place would lose its’ character. But F1 at Elkhart Lake would be magnificent to see.

  10. I’d love to see Laguna Seca. Even outside the corkscrew, there are some really challenging turns.

    I’d also like to see F1 race the oval at Indy. I know it would never happen (safety concerns and European hatred of ovals being the primary reasons) but it would be a fun change of pace for 1 race every year.

  11. So despite not holding a Formula One race before, the majority here think Laguna Seca would be the best bet for the future!? Time to petition the FIA me thinks ;-)

  12. I would like to know what safety and other changes might be required before the F1 establishment would consider Laguna Seca. I think it would make for a very interesting race.

  13. I like the votes for Laguna Seca but I have a feeling its famous drop-off corner (the corkscrew) would not be popular with F1 teams. With that in mind, I think Infineon should be chosen instead.

    Atlanta’s road course (search Petit Le Mans if you don’t know it exists, Panoz test there) might just have the right combination of safe run-offs in corners and proximity to luxury as well. (Being able to drive to it in eight hours instead of the 24 it takes to reach Indy gives it a bit of personal favor for me.)

    Road America is another good choice, but its distance from airports and the blind kink Katherine Legge pasted would make it unpopular with FIA as well.

    Mid-Ohio would also be overlooked for the airport reason.

    Indianapolis Motor Speedway was chosen because Tony George had the money to pull the deal off. I don’t think any of the other named venues can buy him out, and besides, George and Ecclestone are such notorious jerks that there is probably some odd magnetism between them.

  14. Hasnt the A1GP raced at Laguna Seca? They didnt seem to have any problems. Id like to see the F1 teams and drivers cope with the corkscrew, I think it’s be a very interesting race.

  15. Well they did have a couple of problems…

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2006/03/05/a1gp-of-america-cancelled/

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2006/03/06/a1gp-of-america-un-cancelled/

    But in fairness that was all down to the rain.

    I don’t think F1 could race at Laguna Seca without enormous amounts of work being done to the track. But the Indy Racing League races at Watkins Glen and Sears Point (‘Infineon Raceway’ if we must) so surely they can’t be a million miles from F1’s safety requirements?

    I would love to see F1 cars racing through the corkscrew. There’s a picture of Zonta’s Toyota going through the famous corner on the link below – I can knock up a few wallpapers from the pics if there’s demand…

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2006/08/22/f1-in-the-news/

  16. Sears point would be great too! I love watching the GT cars and even NASCAR go around there. My only issue with that is that it doesn’t seem to have that same feel that other F1 tracks have…. it almost seems beat up and unkept, my opinion of course.

    I cant remember what course it is, Atlanta or Road America, but one of the two has a great straight with a hard braking area (with plenty of run off) that immediately goes up the hill and back down on a sweeping turn… If F1 is complaining about how unchallenging Indy is this seems like a good alternative.

    I can see safety issues with the corkscrew, possibly cars not braking in time and going airborne (there is a bump right before the hill)…. and god forbid that they manage to go upside down and down the hill.

    I know there is really not comparable to really racing around these courses, but anyone that has played a realistic racing simulation and has tried all these courses could tell you how difficult they are. Anyone who hasn’t should look into RFACTOR(dot).com. There are some geat race series that can be added to the game that, again nothing like the real thing can certainly give you an idea of what it is like driving the different courses….

    Sorry for the long post, I need a job that actually keeps me busy….

  17. I like chunters idea of an F1 race at Road Atlanta .(considering its only a 1 hour drive for me!) It is located close to the city,good track with lots of turns,awesome infield.

    Check it out at roadatlanta.com and see what you think.

  18. The F1 teams and drivers bitch about how unchallenging the Indy course is but for some reason 16 of them couldn’t figure out how to get around it 2 years ago. And what was all that passing this year? I dont know about you but it sure was a lot more exciting than the parade laps they run around the rest of the world.

  19. Road Atlanta gets my vote. It’s a great circuit with a strong racing history. Petit LeMans runs there now, and Can Am raced there back in the heyday of that series.

    Panoz owns the track, and also the nearby Chateau Elan resort- so there is a built in luxury element,
    and we all know the Bernie likes to market F1 to that crowd. The fact its a mere 45 minutes from me also weighs heavily in my choice!

    If not Road Atlanta then take F1 back to Watkins Glen…

  20. Laguna Seca has my vote. A classic track, some challenging corners, the corkscrew…I only wonder if (any) modifications could be made to satisfy F1.

    The fact that Zonta ran the TF106 out there last year gives us hope, I guess. Check out the onboard footage on YouTube sometime…

  21. Check out the video on YouTube titled “Road Atlanta in a Lotus 7”
    Too bad it has soundtrack instead of the sweet sounds of the Lotus but,it is a great open view of the track.
    With a few adjustments I think it would be a good F1 venue.
    KEEP F1 IN THE U.S.A.!!!

  22. They’d have to keep the deer out as well. I wonder if da Matta will ever come back to racing?

  23. Tim Benjamin
    21st June 2007, 17:54

    The US is large enough (geographically) we should get two GPs, even if we need to call California an independant country (San Marino ring a bell.) I’ll throw my vote in for Watkins Glen. Drivers tend to like the configuration, its fast and more rhythm oriented then technical. The draw-backs are its location in a very rural area, and because its narrow it would be difficult to pass. The 120 foot drop in elevation in the third of a mile from the end of the backstretch to the toe of the boot and the nearly mile long run from The 90 through the esses and to the end of the backstraight should be taken flat out by the cars making all out speed junkies pretty happy.

    Willow Springs might be a good call.

    Judging from the complaints from MotoGP fans Laguna probably couldn’t handle a crowd the size of an F1, admittedly a good candidate for a race though.

  24. I can’t see why you wouldn’t take Infineon Raceway. You have a lot of hair-pin turns, a lot of elevation change and some straight aways. A little reconfiguration in the pits and a few upgrades here and there and you have a track in the US that is not so anemic like Indy. Oh Ya, Bernie will like the fact that it is in a wealthy area and close enough to 2 international airports (San Francisco and Oakland).

  25. Tim Benjamin
    25th June 2007, 13:46

    I’ve always felt a lot of hairpin turns made a track kind of pedestrian, kind of like watching the French Grand Prix, kind of ironic if you consider the French hosted the first Grand Prix. Its a big country one for the east coast one for the west coast.

  26. My vote is for Laguna Seca as well, it is one of the few tracks where you can see 60% of the course from one spot. It is also in between two huge markets, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Not to mention the Seattle area, where the Ferrari and Porsch set drive down for the Rolex Classic races every year. It would be good also for us locals to be able to get the jump on the tickets, as most F1 GP’s are priced out of reach of the every day motorsport fan.

  27. My vote would be for Laguna Seca. An F1 race at such a classic track would be pretty special for many racing fans. Second vote would be for Road America. I think the fast nature of the circuit would be more ideal for F1 cars than the other potenial circuits.

    Whatever circuit is chosen, if it requires renovating (as it likely will) it should be handled by someone other than Hermann Tilke and Co. Switch it up a little and get some fresh ideas on the issue of F1 circuit design.

  28. I’m going to pick either Infineon, or somewhere new. Someone rich could probably dent their bank account and build a road course that FIA and NASCAR and Indy and everyone else can cope with. There has to been some undeveloped open field that someone could build a track on. And for the point of Infineon, I can’t see too many real complaints out of FIA about the sports car course. Even the stock car course would probably be a hit with the drivers. BRING F1 BACK TO THE USA!!!

  29. I love laguna seca :) is an old spirit track, with several nice turns…

  30. Speaking as a newcomer to the USA from Europe, I have grown quickly
    to enjoy oval racing which in Europe is now sadly impossible to find.
    In 2000, when F1 returned to the United States, everybody I knew were
    excited at the prospect of high banked, 215mph, balls out racing,
    which we assumed Indianapolis would provide.
    Instead, we were treated to half the oval, and a ‘mickey mouse’ section
    inbetween. I would like to know who was responsible for this? The FIA or the American race organisers? For me, this decision was a huge mistake. NASCAR and IRL races all use the full oval course at
    Indianapolis, why not F1?
    The American F1 Grand Prix would have been a far more dramatic spectacle
    had the full course been used, and the public had the full understanding
    at just how fast these cars are. On the subject of safety, NASCAR and
    IRL races are run to such a high standard there that, to me, safety
    could not be that much of a concern. Indianapolis should host the F1 race, but without the terrible infield section which, as you Americans
    would say, ‘sucks’!

  31. my vote goes to watkins glen. the real home of formula one for 20 yrs. don’t give me the cry about access. indycar was just there, nascar will be there soon and f1 still goes to places like monza and monoco. oh yeah, my bad,ecclestone doesn’t want it there. far too many drivers like the challenge and atmosphere. ask any professional or amateur driver that has ever been there,i.e.;mario,stewart(jackie) this circuit has a lot of history and not just f1. if i had enough, i’d bet that everyone would come out winners, if it were there. but…

  32. emily margaret
    2nd September 2008, 14:18

    Indy.Definitely Indianapolis. Centralized location and large event infrastructure. Interstate 70 is completed and travel to and from the city is much improved. Indianapolis knows how to take care of racing fans.

  33. How about a night race in Vegas? Use the track CC used in 2007, just build a garage area on the front straight and rebuild the train bridge before the last turn and you are good to go. The lighting system they had at Singapore would work great.

  34. o.k. it doesn’t really matter where anyone wants F1 in the u.s. the problem is bernie. what with all these new countries with their multi-million dollar facilities and the FEE required by bernie, the countries that have had F1 for decades are being choked out. case in point, spa and montreal to name a couple. how many more are going to be cut to make room for these other countries that have governmental backing? in my opinion, bernie only cares about his bank account. if he really cared about the “show”, as it has been called so much over the years, bernie would be taking a lesser fee, giving a bigger share to the teams and making it a point to visit all the classic circuits of the world.
    and yes, i agree that the u.s, a should have two, at least. maybe even three. one on each coast and maybe one in the middle. make all us bloody yanks happy.

  35. Remember that Salt Lake City held the 2002 Winter Games.

    What About Miller Motorsports Park?

    And Indy has modified the track with the chicane. Love to keep the tradition.

  36. larry t smith jr
    4th March 2009, 22:50

    oak ridge tn ,usa is planing a circut check out thousandsunsmotorsports.com

  37. Sebring would be my best guess because it is a technical track and it would be a challenge to F1 drivers. i would like to see that

  38. Sebring would be a great place to host a U.S. grand prix for F1. the track is technical and it would be amazing. I would like o see that

  39. Sebring would be awsome to see a formula 1 car go around in. I would like to see that

  40. Washington, DC should host the US F1 race. International city, Nations capital and no question the best backdrop of any potential road circuit in the United States. Imagine the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and US Capitol in the shots.

  41. Miami would be a superb venue for F1 in North America…I know nothing of the facilities available, but it is a lively international city…and, the off track amenities are perfect…think Baby Monaco…the San Francisco area (Laguna Seca) would also qualify for similar reasons

  42. Grand Prix of Miami is the perfect venue… Street course like Monaco its Miami no complaints from anyone there and its on the water as well and Miami can handle all the press and lodging

  43. US F1 tracks
    1. Sebring
    expand from 12 to 24hrs for ALMS.
    2. Laguna Seca
    3. Atlanta

  44. Street race ONLY in my opinion. Las Vegas–playground to the rich and famous of the US or South Beach in Miami…the American ‘Riviera’.

  45. Love Laguna Seca! Great Track!It’s like a mini nurburgring!

  46. Meaning the old 13 mile course!With the corkscrew!

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