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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 ???

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

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. I would like to see a New York street circuit IN Manhatten :)

    Using Broadway as the main straight.

    Not sure New Yorkers would like the are closed for the best part of a week though ;)

    The US Needs a driver in F1, before they will accept a home Grand Prix again.

  12. New Jersey Motorsports Park (www.njmotorsportspark.com) is a brand new facility located between Washington DC, Philidelphia, Atlantic City, and New York. It may not have the NYC skyline in the background, but it would be a much better track than some temporary street circuit.

  13. Prisoner Monkeys said on 25th March 2010, 22:45

    I’m no local, but a quick look on Google Maps shows there isn’t much to work with in New Jersey. Like most American citiies, it’s inappropriate for a street circuit because most of its streets are on a north-south grid pattern. There is the odd good-looking section of road, but unfortunately they’re all in suburbia, and so the population of NIMBYs will be pretty high.

    The only real solution I could see is an Albert Park-style semi-street circuit run through Liberty State Park adjacent to Ellis Island. Something like this:

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3577410

    However, I’ve been told it’s actually pretty swampy.

  14. theRoswellite said on 25th March 2010, 22:52

    (For GST: Never forget that the US has a long history of F1 involvement…the problem being that it was a “long” time ago. We had numerous world class drivers and the sport, F1 and sports car racing, was followed by many US fans. If the conditions were right that support would return.)

    For F1 to succeed in the US it needs a home, and not a mobile home. Not a street circuit of giant wire catch fences and temporary concrete walls. Something both beautiful and challenging. It could have been done….

    Try this: (Note: This press release could have been from any year in say the ’60-’80 when the US economy was strong.)

    “Goodyear plans to build a huge testing facility within 2 hour drive of the LA basin. It will be used not only for tire testing, but for automotive testing, as a regional airport with small aircraft manufacturing, the campus for a local community college, and – the home of the US Grand Prix.

    The Grand Prix will be a joint sponsorship arrangement with Ford Motor Company and the Chevron Oil Corporation. Some of the features of the track will be a 10 mile long straight which is rumored to be a future alternative space landing facility, a large banked oval which will also function as a 50,000 seat concert facility and a huge indoor pit facility which will allow spectators to watch the teams work on their cars while being protected from both noise and fumes. The indoor facility will function as the future home of the California State Fair.

    Additionally, 90% of the land is being donated by the BLM in agreement with Goodyear and the State of California to be established as a federally designated Wetlands Zone and Bird Sanctuary. The cosigners have agreed to establish and maintain this area under a 99 year lease.

    And finally, Los Angles County in agreement with 7 other surrounding counties, will establish free camping, hiking and recreation within a majority of this new facility. The goal for this project is to show that municipal, state and federal entities can cooperate with the private sector to promote the public good.”

    (Laughing can fade out)

    It would have been nice…..

  15. Gusto said on 25th March 2010, 22:59

    As mentioned elsewere dont forget the clocks(UK) go forward one hour at 26/03/10 01:00 GMT.

    • Gusto said on 25th March 2010, 23:15

      Just realised its in the wrong post an wrong. F1 around the Indy Oval would be a sight to be seen, and worth seeing, but the powers that be dont listen to reason, because there not reasonable.

  16. It would be great t see a race in NY.. but like the others, I don’t see it happening int he near future, unfortunately.

  17. Prisoner Monkeys said on 25th March 2010, 23:21

    For those of you plugging the idea of Formula 1 going to somewhere like Miller or Elkhart Lake or the Glen, I think you’ll find that of late, Bernie is in love with the notion of Formula 1 using circuits that were either built excusively for Formula 1 or built for Formula 1 first and everyone else second.

  18. Gusto said on 25th March 2010, 23:24

    I think Donnington serves a reminder when you get it wrong in the Bernie Battlefield.

  19. As a resident of NY and a huge F1 fan, I can say that the general population in this city doesn’t care about racing or Formula 1 nearly enough to deal with the logistical nightmare, and most of the businesses do not believe in the economic effect. Same for NJ – it’s even less likely to happen there with all the traffic snarls that would occur. And as for the outer boroughs, I don’t think those are the glamorous surroudings that Bernie is looking for.

    The only way it could ever happen would be if the American economy was suffering to the point that the Euro was worth $2.50-$3.00. Then the city and businesses would consider letting all the foreign money come in… but for obvious reasons I hope that doesn’t happen!

    In the meantime, what’s wrong with California, Bernie? They have money, they have glamor… it’s the “right crowd” and Monterey is especially beautiful.

  20. Lore said on 26th March 2010, 0:17

    bernie is so full of s**t!

    hell be drooling over suitcases of money from another middle eastern govt long before he cares about fans.

    from my recollection the fans at indy were grass roots racing lovers keen to support F1. thats exactly what we want, those grandstands were packed! F1 let them down and who can blame tony george for not backing down to Bernies self interested demands (hes what the richest man in britain??)

    give us a break, mid america not stupid even though the cultre is pretty crass. why on earth would they want to pay hundreds millions to bernie and other euopean fat cats when they have so many great series that run awesome racing with good drivers.. perhaps not the tech or the finesse of F1 but without the arrogance.

    dont get me wrong i love F1, but lets be realistic here! the US has a lot of great input for racing and F1 could be learning a thing or two from them!

    shame there wasnt more support from europe for USF1…

    • Bernie is a moron. “Hey, we gave you a 6-car race for your 200,000 strong crowd. Now give us $50m/yr to keep the race.” I don’t like Tony George but I don’t blame him for telling Ecclestone to take a hike.

      That said, though, the crowd was only that big because the ticket prices were so cheap, at $85 for the best seats.

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