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. Patrickl said on 26th March 2010, 1:23

    Who cares if there is a race in the US or not? They don’t have any tracks that F1 could race on. Leguna Seca is nice, but unusable by F1 standards.

    An extra street race is the last thing we need.

    I guess Ecclestone wants them to make more money, but that man is going to be the death of the sport. If he keeps lining his pockets and those of the investors instead of investing money in the series (ie not strip mining the people who host the races for insane amounts of money) then we will be left with boring tilke races that no one will want to watch.

    Can you even see the New York skyline from New Yersey? Let alone from the track.

    Don’t even get me started on ovals. Those things are simply ridiculously dangerous. I’d love to see F1 cars on there once for the novelty of it, but it’s just not worth it that one of them might die just for some novely fun.

    F1 cars aren’t even built with the safety features in mind for an oval. Look at how part of an oval nearly killed Ralf Schumacher

    The US has enough racing series of it’s own. Why would they be interested in what is essentially a European racing series? Especially at the FOM’s insane prices.

    I guess the big question is, what is so important about racing in the US? Besides money.

    • GST said on 26th March 2010, 2:28

      I agree.

      Unless the USA gets a circuit that’s FIA approved and up to F1 standard and gives the fans decent racing then it’s not worth going there.

      Formula 1 should not go to America ‘just because it’s America’. FOM should be getting back to the older European circuits and upgrading them to bring back F1. Hell, once Donington is upgraded and out of problems, F1 should go there too!

    • There are plenty of places in Jersey where the NYC skyline is in full view, but most of those roads are residential, meaning that there is about a 0% chance they’d let an F1 race come in for a weekend.

      Racing in the US is important, though… we may have been overtaken by China but we’re still the 2nd largest auto market in the world, not to mention other goods and services that are marketed by Formula 1 sponsors.

  2. AB576 said on 26th March 2010, 5:37

    If it was in Manhattan they could use the central park ring for part of the track. That would be awesome!

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=new%20york%20ny&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl

  3. Chaz said on 31st March 2010, 14:31

    lol “the wrong crowd”…

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