Debate: Where should the US Grand Prix be held?

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. 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.

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th June 2007, 10:17

    Well they did have a couple of problems…

    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…

  3. Dan M said on 15th June 2007, 15:49

    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….

  4. Wesley said on 15th June 2007, 19:26

    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 and see what you think.

  5. Geoff said on 18th June 2007, 1:56

    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.

  6. TBennett said on 19th June 2007, 5:02

    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…

  7. Erik said on 20th June 2007, 16:47

    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…

  8. Wesley said on 20th June 2007, 23:47

    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.!!!

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th June 2007, 23:50

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

  10. Tim Benjamin said on 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.

  11. Ryan Ashby said on 25th June 2007, 4:49

    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).

  12. Tim Benjamin said on 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Eric M. said on 10th August 2007, 7:14

    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.

  15. 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!!!

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