Ecclestone still chasing New York dream

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F1 raced in New York State until 1980

F1 raced in New York State until 1980

Bernie Ecclestone’s comments to La Gazzetta dello Sport about wanting to hold a New York Grand Prix in 2012 are an encouraging sign that he hasn’t forgotten the need for F1 to have a race in the USA.

He’s been pursuing his dream of a race in the Big Apple for four decades. But I see no reason to believe it’s any more likely to happen now than it was when the first F1 race was planned for September 1983.

Before anyone gets too excited, no, Ecclestone is not talking about taking F1 back to Watkins Glen. The the picturesque and rapid circuit, which held the American round of the world championship from 1961-1980, is now used by the IndyCar series.

Ecclestone wants to hold an F1 race in view of the city:

[It would be] in front of Manhattan in New Jersey, with the skyscrapers in the background. Fifteen minutes from the centre of New York to the circuit would be marvellous.
Bernie Ecclestone

This is not all that different to the event that was planned for 1983 near La Guardia Airport in Queens’, which was repeatedly postponed but failed to materialise. The 1983 race was eventually replaced by the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. The same happened again in 1985 but the New York race was once again given provisional status on the 1986 calendar before finally being dropped.

By a curious coincidence at the same time Ecclestone was pursuing his New York Grand Prix dream in the mid-eighties he was also trying to set up an F1 race in Rome. The project was similar to the one currently being mooted for 2013 and was even planned to take place in the same Espesizione Universale Romana district.

When the 1983 race was being planned there were already three American rounds on the F1 calendar. Today there are none.

Why is that so? Here’s an explanation Ecclestone gave two weeks ago for why F1 gave up on its last American home, Indianapolis, at the end of 2007:

It’s all the wrong crowd and the wrong people and they didn’t really… nothing worked there really, we’d have to have a big change round. But we’d like to get back there.
Bernie Ecclestone

One can only assume that by “wrong crowd” he means a big one, because Indianapolis never had any trouble attracting far greater audiences than we see at Istanbul or Bahrain. And this despite the farcical ‘races’ F1 put on there in 2002 and 2005.

But I don’t believe the ‘wrong crowd’ really matters to him. What matters is money.

Watkins Glen was dropped because it couldn’t afford Ecclestone’s prices. The company running the race it later went into administration. Nor was Tony George willing to meet Ecclestone’s demands for Indianapolis.

Who is he going to find in New York who has the money to fund a race in the first place and accept the likelihood of losing substantial amount of money on it every year? Most of the new races added to the calendar in recent years are in countries where the government is willing to pay huge sums to finance – something which is not likely in America.

Ecclestone has been trying to get a race in New York since 1970. In that time F1 has abandoned several potential homes for a United States Grand Prix including popular venues like Watkins Glen, Long Beach and Indianapolis.

I’m very keen to see F1 find a long-term home in the USA. Although I’ve no doubt New York would be a fine setting for a Grand Prix I’m not convinced it’s realistic.

F1 should go back to Indianapolis. Preferably the oval, but I’ll settle for the road course…

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109 comments on Ecclestone still chasing New York dream

  1. I guess by “wrong crowd” he must mean that there are more people with more money on Manhatten Island than there are in Indiana.

    Glad that he’s not thinking about an actual track on Manhatten Island, if the New York tracks in Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo are anything to go by.

  2. Seedy001 said on 25th March 2010, 19:12

    Oh, yeah thanks, Bernie… thanks for ripping off my idea!

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/12/12/track-design-competition-winners-named/

    Where did I put that licensing agreement…!

  3. Icthyes said on 25th March 2010, 19:20

    Indy, on the oval (even if we have to have a mickey-mouse token infield with a sharp hairpin, to break the monotony).

    Since that goes exactly against Bernie’s “vision” ($$$$), then sadly it won’t happen :-(

  4. Gman said on 25th March 2010, 19:42

    If the talk is of New Jersey, it could be something involving the Meadowlands Sports Complex. That area is home to a brand-new outdoor sports stadium that will house the New York Giants and New York Jets NFL teams starting this season. I believe CART may have put a few races on there back in the day, and that NASCAR was trying to stage something there, but it is flat ground and I don’t really know if it is exactly tailor-made for a Grand Prix.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 25th March 2010, 20:27

      Yes, I was thinking about Meadowlands as well. But as I remember it, the track was ludicrousely narrow and unbelievably confined at the tight hairpin opposite the start finish.
      This is what it looked like http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/tracks/meadowla.html
      and as it says on the site, it was just not long enough either. However, it cannot be beyond the wit of man or even Tilke to plan out a decent (flat) road course here.

  5. YeaMon said on 25th March 2010, 19:46

    If Bernie really want’s a street race in the US, Philadelphia is the place to go. The most passionate fans in the entire country when it comes to sports, and anything related to their city. The Downtown center is one of the most beautiful in the country. It’s also a city with plenty of room for expansion, unlike Manhattan. It has a perfect mix of colonial and brand new architecture. It’s becoming a Financial center in the United States after the breakthrough with the comcast tower. There’s plans for a supertall skyscrapper to begin construction in june-july measuring 1500 feet tall.

    One can only dream…

  6. Steve said on 25th March 2010, 19:59

    I will be at the Grand Prix of Long Beach this April for my first IndyCar race. Great race to watch on tv and I’ve heard it is better in person. An F1 oval race would be crazy. I could see the lesser teams get dome oval ringers from indycar.

  7. Rikadyn said on 25th March 2010, 20:12

    “Wrong crowd” = Racing fans, Not elites and dignitaries for old bowl cut to rub elbows with and feel important

  8. Joshy said on 25th March 2010, 20:31

    That’ll be so cool if a race was held just outside NYC. I live in Newport RI, which is about a three hours drive to NYC. It would very convenient because I have some family that live in Manhattan. I really hope that happens. That would be BOMB!

  9. Sven said on 25th March 2010, 20:32

    If Fourmula 1 wanted to build a fan base in the US and present the crowd with exiting racing they could spend what it takes to upgrade Road America and we would have another Spa.
    But I guess they would also be the wrong crowd in Eccelstones mind. The frogs coming out of this mans mouth seems to be coming ever more frequently.

  10. Juan said on 25th March 2010, 20:32

    Two words for you Bernie. Watkins. Glen.

    Keep the circus out of the city. It’s enough of a pain trying to get around there on a normal day.

  11. Eric M. said on 25th March 2010, 21:30

    Sounds like Bernie wants a New York race pretty badly. I wonder if he would still take a fee for the rights to host the race or just give New York the race with no fee at all, like he does for Monaco?

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 25th March 2010, 22:56

      Before we had races in places like China, Bernie had been wanting them for years beforehand. The original plan was to have a Chinese Grand Prix as early as 1997 or 1998, to be held at Zuhai. When it finally happened, Shanghai still had to pay.

      Bottom line: New Jersey isn’t going to get a race for free just because they’re in America.

  12. Gwenouille said on 25th March 2010, 21:31

    Ecclestone wants to hold an F1 race in view of the city:

    ” [It would be] in front of Manhattan in New Jersey, with the skyscrapers in the background. Fifteen minutes from the centre of New York to the circuit would be marvellous. ”

    This sums Bernie’s point pretty well: he clearly focuses much more on what happens beside the track, in the background, not what is going on AS A RACE.

    What next ?
    A ride on the Great Wall, between the Pyramids, on the main LasVegas Strip ???

  13. Dane said on 25th March 2010, 21:33

    I would love to see Watkins Glen or Road America host an F1 race

  14. There are so many great tracks in America, yeah they need some work but the should invest in restoring a great circuit instead of trying to keep creating lot’s of “Monaco’s” all over the world.

  15. F1 does not need a race in a parking lot in New Jersey. No one will be fooled that this is a race “in New York City.” For all the interest and catchet that location will have, it might as well be in the middle of Indiana, a day’s drive from any major city.

    On this point, maybe someone can explain the actual practical saftey condition requirements. Elkhart Lake is a pretty dangerous track, expecially the back straight were Katherine Legge had that horrendous wreck a couple years back. However, Singapore, Valencia, and Montreal are not excluded for having walls everywhere and a seeming lack of run-off in key areas.

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