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Austin newspaper raises questions about US GP promoter contract
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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Oct 2011   |  12:22 pm GMT  |  69 comments

There was an article in the Austin Statesman on Friday which caught the eye and suggests that there are some changes imminent in the management and promotion of the US Grand Prix at Austin, which is due to have its inaugural event in 13 months from now.

The paper has seen a letter sent by the Texas state comptroller Susan Combs to F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone which deals with a transfer of ownership rights to the US Grand Prix in the promoter contract.

It appears that Tavo Hellmund, who struck the deal with Ecclestone for the US GP to be hosted in Austin, has been asking Combs whether the state subsidies for the project, some $250 million of State money pledged over 10 years – will still be forthcoming if the promoter was changed. Combs spells out in her letter to Ecclestone that the circuit will indeed still be eligible for the money.

According to the Statesman, the letter makes it clear that it is Hellmund personally to whom Ecclestone bestowed the rights, not the major investors in the Austin track project, known as “Circuit of the Americas”. These investors include billionaire entertainment impressario Red McCombs. That now seems to be about to change, although Combs does not say why nor what the terms might be – and nor does the newspaper. It does however note a “slowdown” in building work at the site, possibly linked to the change.

Combs writes, “Should the proposed assignment be consummated, the State of Texas, through this agency, looks forward to working with the Circuit of the Americas to bring the Formula One United States Grand Prix to Texas in 2012.”

As for why the need to change promoter at this stage, the Statesman refers back to an interview with Hellmund from a few weeks ago,

“Hellmund is a founding partner of Circuit of the Americas, yet a little more than two weeks ago told the American-Statesman he had begun doing consulting work for groups hoping to attract a Formula One race to Mexico, Argentina and South Africa,” the article says. “At that time he mentioned that he was basically a race promoter and that his work in Austin was almost done. He then quickly added: ‘The U.S. Grand Prix is the most important thing. … The next thing is to promote the U.S. Grand Prix.’ “

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  1. goferet says:

    If am not mistaken, Texas is the cattle state in the US so a Red Bull win on the track will go a long way to promoting the US Grand Prix, all by itself.

    But one thing I know for sure is F1 will bomb in the US like it has always done before for in the States, foreign sports (that do not have a substitute) will always take a back seat to the home grown sports franchises – just ask David Beckham!

    Besides F1 doesn’t have a single American team, driver, let alone sponsor & unlike Bernie, Americans are very patriotic by nature!

    So I think that Hellmund chap is pretty smart for he’s doesn’t want to be tied down to a lost cause & thus lose money in the process & so it’s off to Mexico, South Africa & Argentina.

    1. Sebee says:

      Been to US a few times. Plenty of Canadians, Europeans, and a healthy representation of South Americans. There were American fans, but I have to agree with you – they were dedicated and some did just come to check it out at $70 a ticket.

      I was extremely surprised at this development, track location, and the building of a brand new F1 track in US. As it’s not my money, I don’t care. But I would have plenty of reservation building a track in US if it was my money. Between Amerian staples like NFL, MLB, NBA, all the college sports, NASCAR, even NHL in some markets – just how much time are fans expected to have? Bet you UFC is 10 times bigger than F1 fans in US – another sport wanting a slice of our time and our PPV money.

      1. Dren says:

        MLS has jumped the NHL in the US for viewers. It is growing. As for the Austin race, me and a friend are driving from Indiana to see it. That’s like driving across Europe to Russia from London to watch an F1 race.

      2. Sebee says:

        Not shocked that MLS has jumped NHL. Football is the ultimate participation sport, cheap to play, fun with friends anytime, can be done in cool weather and hot weather on any patch of grass, and let’s not forget the millions of immigrants in US to whom it’s #1.

        You’re one of the dedicated fans who travels – like me. But you travel from Indiana to Texas because you have to. And let’s be honest – that’s a 3 hour flight – not a big deal. You’ll have people really fly from London doing the 10 hour flight to come. What you should ask is – in land about equal in population to Europe, why should you have to travel that far to see an F1 race? And once you come up with no answers, let me remind you that no fan needs to travel from London to Russia to see a race, because beside Silverstone, on the way is Belgium, Germany, even Hungary, Italy and Monaco – suddenly you’ll loose the desire to drive to Russia to see F1 and eat borsch with pierogies. You’re doing it because you have no choice. Because it’s the same drive for you to Texas or Montreal. Because there is no race in New York, or Chicago, or L.A. to cover this continent sufficiently and satisfy the market with 3 solid events per year.

        Look at the bright side, at least for a while you had it good! F1 race in your back yard and tickets $70 for grandstand. Hotels were $100 a night for 4 star – Indinapolis was the F1 deal of the calendar.

      3. Robert says:

        Americans don’t need to travel far to watch a race either, as Canada and Brasil are well within reason. The upcoming race in Austin simply makes it able for us to stay in the states, avoiding customs and unsavory locations outside of the US.

        L.A. wouldn’t be a great place for a race. Neither would Chicago. New York, Austin and Las Vegas would be prime locations. I only include Austin because they are building a track. A proper road course could be developed in both New York and Las Vegas. Las Vegas would be the ideal location for the season finale, as it has plenty of hotels, clubs for after-race parties and an excellent climate 9 months out of the year.

      4. Mike84 says:

        Most Americans don’t understand that there’s any other motor racing than NASCAR. It’s on all the time! F1′s weakness is you have to wait weeks for the next event. Americans are saturated with sports, F1 loses their interest quickly. Every time you walk into a bar NASCAR is on.

      5. wayne says:

        This is more about sponsor desire than American demmand I think. In any case, becasue they are simply so many Americans – if even 1% are interested enough to watch/attend the race should be able to break even. The UK is a tiny country and Silverstone is always sold out…

      6. Sebee says:

        Tiny county where all of F1 lives, is owned and controlled.

      7. Dren says:

        Yeah, trust me, I wish it were so. I did have it good when the race was at Indy. I know a lot of people there, so tickets were cheap and I could bum a couch to sleep on. On the other side, the track was probably my least favorite on the calendar although you could walk around and check out all of the corners in the infield. The Austin track looks pretty amazing. I am wanting to go see a race at Spa, but I wouldn’t fly to any of the other tracks. Maybe Suzuka, but I’ve done the flight to Japan and back…it’s not fun.

    2. The main problem is that the US government is giving funds for this and the money is coming from the US taxpayers. This has created A LOT of negative feeling towards F1 in the states because they’re paying for something they aren’t even sure they like, and the amounts they’re paying are massive.

      When F1 moved to Bahrain or Abu Dhabi, the governments funding them were kingdoms so the people didn’t have a say in the matter whereas F1 coming to the US is a massive talking point. I’ve seen a lot of local radio stations complain about F1 taking their money and taxpayers being “forced” to fund a bunch of european snobs to race some cars around.

      1. James Allen says:

        Can you give ‘me the names of any stations / show hosts who take this line? Would be good to engage in debate

      2. ESLKid75 says:

        James, I’m not local to Austin, so don’t know the radios very well, but if you look for older articles about the F1 race on the Austin Statesman’s website, you just have to read the comments to realize that the local Republicans (who want small government and no tax) are really against this. All of the latest articles on F1 on the website have actually been closed to comments because Americans can’t debate constructively, they can only belittle and bully others (on both sides).

        Not sure whether they left the comments on the older articles, actually. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had removed them completely. It was pure drivel, mixed in with nationalistic, borderline racist comments, if you ask me.

      3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_t7Dz-wPvuI

        This is an example I saw a while back.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ4S1Qc5CFI

        Forward to 2:30 and they’ll start talking about F1.

        Now I know this guy is a bit aggressive but it still shows what the “average american” is thinking and seeing a new track being put up and millions going into funding something they don’t have an interest in must be frustrating during the recession. And as the guy said, they CAN try and change that.

      4. Mike84 says:

        It’s a small point but is it really the entire USA paying for it, or just the Texans? I don’t think the federal gov’t would subsidize something other than an olympics or world cup. Maybe it’s worth it to Texas if it brings in more taxes than they’re spending.

        It does seem like gambling with the peoples’ money, but governments regularly subsidize the arts and stupider things like flying to the moon or some worthless asteroid, or building a space telescope or space station. A race track at least may provide a profit.

      5. ESLKid75 says:

        It’s the Major Events State Fund (voted and provided for by the State of Texas). They estimate they’ll make $300M in additional taxes over the next 10 years, therefore the fund has decided that spending $250M to have the F1 races is worth it. I hope the estimates are right and this becomes and remains a good deal for everybody going forward so F1 can stay in America for a long long time.

      6. wayne says:

        The same debate is held in every democracy all over the world and it is a very valid debate. Kingdoms are not obligated to listen to their people, so if the ‘crown prince’ wants to spend a 100 million dollars per year on a private scalextrix track in the desert rather than build a universioty or a hopital – well the people just have to get on with it. They certainly cannot protest.

        The UK nearly lost its race, France has, there is talk of (God forbid) Spa alternating etc. That is because these democratically elected governments will not comit public money to feeding suckling pig that F1 is percieved to be.

        The US is no different in this regard, I am actually very surprised indeed that public money is being committed by the state at all. While I do not pretend to know anything about the constitution of the US, isn’t Texas one of a number of states that reserves greater ‘independance’ than some others in terms of policy and law? Apologies to American readers for my ignorance!

      7. Randy Torres says:

        Wayne, nope all states are treated equally under the Constitution. Texans just act like they’re a country on to themselves because for a brief period they were an independent country. Once they joined the Union, they have as much rights as Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union (although they have more elected representatives to Congress, but just 2 senators same as everybody else).

      8. wayne says:

        Thanks for the info’ Randy, much appreciated.

      9. Andrew says:

        I’m Irish living here in Dallas and haven’t heard any negative comments regarding the race. In fact, I’ve read and seen plenty of excitement about it. There’s a lot of positive anticipation towards it.
        To answer the comment from another person about how little interest there is, that would seem to contradict James other article where the Senna movie makers said there was HUGE support and interest in the movie over here.
        From a personal perspective, I’ve met more F1 fans here through work and friends than I ever met back home where football is all that anyone ever talks about. Motorsport is HUGE over here so if this race has good marketing, I’m sure that it’ll do extremely well.

      10. Randy Torres says:

        Wrong on one point @Hisham Akhtar there is NOT ONE RED CENT of federal monies. This deal is state funded.

    3. devilsadvocate says:

      James/ mods I apologize in advance, but feret I suggest you come over here and get a clue before posting as an authority on the subject of us Americans and Texans in particular.

      I am an austinite and yes there are a lot of cattle here in Texas but perhaps you you should be less ignorant in your labeling. Texas is also one of the biggest technology centers in the US with leading developments and research in chemistry, medicine, engineering, automotive, and computer science.

      The track will do well here, trust me, and I imagine the circus and its entourage will find more than enough nightlife in downtown Austin to keep them happy. Austin also has a number of private racing clubs and roadcourses that do their fare share of turning in both directions.

      The only thing you should be worried about is the race being a big hit and maybe taking some spotlight from the classic races.

      1. PhilipB says:

        Exactly; a trip to Stubbs, the Broken Spoke, South Congress and joining the UT co-eds on 6th Street should sway even the most hardened motorsport journalist!

    4. Rodger says:

      Yes, a lot of my countrymen can be hard to convince to follow an event that doesn’t feature American participants. But we have become more accepting of foreign born drivers in motorsports. All but a few of the top drivers in Indy cars are from other places, and there are more coming into NASCAR every year.

      While there aren’t currently ant US based teams, or drivers, there are at least two major US brands with sponsorship deals with the teams. Williams are the title sponsor for Williams, and GE has made a pretty sizable deal with Team Lotus.

      1. ESLKid75 says:

        Did you mean AT&T for Williams?
        There’s also CNN at Team Lotus and a few others. Virgin is big in the US too. McLaren wore the Verizon logo on its rear wing for the 4 races that were broadcast on Fox (major broadcast network) rather than Speed (their little sister network that only does motorsports).
        Quite a bit of F1 money already comes from the US. Let’s make sure they get their faux share of display in a race in the US.

      2. Rodger says:

        Yes I did mean AT&T. That’s what I get for trying to post here while watching the Ravens game.

        I hadn’t noticed the Verizon branding on the McLarens. I guess I’m not the type they’re marketing to with that kinda of stuff.

    5. Harry says:

      F1 didn’t “bomb” in the US last time around. I was at every usgp held at indy and every race was well attended by large enthusiastic international crowds, even years with almost guaranteed ferrari wins… years after finish line and tire fiascos. If nothing else interesting things happened.

      The problem is that even with strong ticket sales of wasn’t close to breaking even. Especially as Friday and Saturday running decreased, there were fewer overnight stays and less money comming ing the local economy.

      With no public subsidy, there was no way to pay the license fee. If he Texas subsidy dries up, the usgp will leave again, regardless of its popularity.

      1. Sebee says:

        Indy is a motor town, with it’s citizens used to racing of all types. Tickets were $70 each for grandstand Sunday – simply unheard of in F1. Just FYI it’s more like $700 in Monaco. F1 was a deal at Indy anotherwords. I dare say you couldn’t have more fun for that little money on a Sunday afternoon.

        It is nice that F1 is coming to US – but as a huge F1 fan for decades I will say this about US and F1: F1 is a niche in US at best. All efforts by F1 have been half hearted. What is needed is simple – minimum 3 races on US soil with Canada and Mexico to make it 5 and give fans chances to get involved and grow F1 profile. Drivers need to go on Letterman and Leno when they come here. Races need to be on main network TV – at least 1/2 of them like in UK. That will never happen.

      2. Sebee says:

        One more thing…regarding these constant street demos by various team I keep reading about, guess how long it would take for Leno to accept an F1 team’s offer to come and do a demo? Something along the lines of BMW Pit Lane Park demo. Yup, you guessed it, Leno would accept at a drop of a hat. Has anyone done it? Obvious candidates are Schumi, Lewis and of course Jenson. I could see Webber doing it as well. All would come across as likable and funny. All drive for teams who have big interest in US market.

      3. ESLKid75 says:

        All good proposals that would definitely work. You’ve ot my vote to replace Bernie when he finally decides to retire. :-)

      4. Dave says:

        A comparison with Monaco is moot because Monaco is the most prestigious race in the calender, with limited seating and a small area that ensures that only the most hardcore of F1 fans and the filthy rich have the honour of attending it, and they pay top dollar to do so. The Indy USGP came nowhere close in terms of history and prestige. Putting it on the same pedestal as Monaco is like a high school prom queen trying to sidle up to Miss Universe.

        A more valid comparison would be with more recent races in purpose-built tracks. They all go for comparable prices as – and some even cheaper than – the USGP.

      5. wayne says:

        F1 cut its own throat last time round with the tyre fiasco that resulted in half a field of cars taking part in a mock race.

      6. Sebee says:

        I think we’re over that. It was blamed on the French, which was just fine by any red blooded American.

        Personally, I feel that this event was so unique, I’m mad at not being there to see an F1 race start wtih 6 cars. Schumi won again – which as every fan watching back then meant everything was right with the world again. :-)

    6. Steve C says:

      I’m a proud Texan and resident of Round Rock, Texas just outside of Austin and have been here since 1968. When I heard my favorite motorsport was coimg to my backyard (I’m exactly 30 minutes from the track) you couldn’t have told me anything else and I’d been happy as can be.

      I am sick and tired, though, of hearing the F1 will bomb in America. Please explain how 20+ years at Watkins Glen is a failure and how 7+ years at Indy is a failure and how do you explain the only country to have three GPs in one year. Yes we have some troubles competing with different sports but F1 is not a failure and won’t be unless people like yourself keep spreading lies.

      1. wayne says:

        The US does have a habbit of calling sports and formulas that only it takes part in ‘world championships’ though doesn’t it :)

        Joking aside, F1 needs the USA more than the USA needs it. Any world-wide sport without a presence in the USA must be worth 25% less to its headline sponsors than one that does (% figures invented to make a point).

    7. Carlo says:

      You obviously know very little about the USA and the F1 fans who reside there. I would bet there are twice as many F1 fans in the USA as your country. They are just spread out over a much larger area.

      F1 races in the USA have always been a money maker for their promoters. The problems arise when FOM demands a higher fee then the promoters are willing to pay. Our government doesn’t like to subsidize private sporting events like racing but the state of Texas has decided that they do and given that it will be a ten year commitment and with that long term outlook the US GP will be a huge success.

    8. LAH says:

      er…marlboro/phillip morris dosen’t count?

  2. jmv says:

    Another reason why FOTA and the teams need more ownership of race deals and they should call the shots of where they race. It’s their sponsor logos on the car that they represent.

    Also I am sure that FOTA would provide more openness about its dealing with hosting tracks.

    Enough of this non transparent second-hand cars’ dealership that F1 promotion has been always about!!

    1. JAG says:

      You don’t think the teams want to go to the US? they’ve been saying since indy ended that they need to get back to america. it’s a huge (largest economy in the world), mostly untapped, market of people who can spare some dollars to spend on F1, and F1 sponsors’ products, every year if they could just get lured into the sport.

      A couple more races on fox (please just not valencia this time) and some more of those promotional things that Red Bull and McLaren do and you’ve got a foundation laid for real growth and potential.

      1. bd says:

        I understand the need to promote F1 in the US, but please no more races on Fox. SpeedTV already truncates the races and it only gets worse on Fox. Also, sweet jeebus I intensely dislike Bob Varsha.

  3. DJH584 says:

    Mr Allen

    I had a look at and searched Austin Statesman’s site but was unable to find the article you referred to. I carried out two searches – one on Hellmund and the other on Susan Combs.

    Do you still have a link to it? Or is there a possibility that the article has been withdrawn?

    Regards

    David

      1. DJH584 says:

        Thank you for the link sir.

        I think it begs the question as to whether this Grand Prix will run or not.

        Please do keep us informed.

        Regards

        David

      2. James Allen says:

        I’m sure the event will be a big success, having broadcast F1 in the USA for three years I know how many F1 enthusiasts there are and how knowledgeable they are

  4. John T. says:

    This recent slowdown of construction has been due to TxDOT (texas department of transportation) widening the local roads. Hopefully it picks up before the wet winter.

  5. Steve C says:

    The track is being constructed as we speak with private money and F1, MotoGP and Aussie Super Cars are coming to Austin. Tavo doesn’t want to move on he wants to get more.

    Racing’s coming back to America…

  6. andrew says:

    F1 needs America to succeed for the sake of its sponsors, if for no other reason. Team Lotus is sponsored by GE, you can’t get more American than that.

  7. ESLKid75 says:

    That article is a little misleading. I don’t think the slowdown in the work has anything to do with this potential transfer of “race rights”, but rather with the fact that the state fund cannot (by law) release the funds more than a year prior to the event. So the $25M that were expected in June 2011 (since the race was originally scheduled for June 2012) will only show up in November 2011 (now that the race has been moved to November 2012). Hence the slowdown, I think.

    As for the transfer of “race rights”, that would make sense since the “Circuit of the Americas” entity didn’t exist when the deal with FOM was signed. It would however make sense to have this new organization have the rights, rather than a person, especially as far as liability is concerned.

    Much ado about nothing?

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for the input

  8. ESLKid75 says:

    On a personal note, I can’t wait to visit Austin next year. It’s a 3-4 hour plane ride from San Francisco, but I’ll be there, family in tow…

    1. PhilipB says:

      We’ll keep the beer cold & the enchiladas hot for you!

  9. gonzeche says:

    Let Bruce Springsteen drive a F1 car to make it a success in the US.

    1. Sebee says:

      Why didn’t Red Bull put that Tom Cruise stunt on Leno’s Tonight Show I still can’t understand.

  10. JD says:

    Here in the USA the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is running for president while the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, is on the verge of announcing his candidacy. With the leader of one future F1 venue possibly fighting against the leader of a potential F1 venue, national politics could shape F1′s future in this country, for better or worse.

    Here is an article from a New Jersey news site:

    http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/professional/ask-rick-perry-about-failed-formula-1-racing-investment-in-us

    1. Sebee says:

      1-in-5 Texans are living below poverty.
      Most jobs created in Texas over past year are minimum wage.

      Not sure how long before the political pressure crushes the event due to fees, as it has in many other markets.

    2. PhilipB says:

      Nah – political silly season, no different from F1 silly season

  11. ferggsa says:

    Don’t forget Mexican fans are pretty close, I am sure we could fill the track even if no Americans showed up, even more so with Sergio Perez now racing
    Just ask the US Football (soccer) team, when they have to play as “visitors” in their own stadiums against Mexico

  12. Phil says:

    Before you condemn the race, give it a chance. Austin is an amazing city, comparable to Montreal in size and entertainment options. The track layout looks interesting and could provide some great racing. I predict that Austin will quickly become a fan and driver favorite. All y’all complaining now will be buying tickets in 2013 when your friends come back and tell you what a great time they had. I’ve heard people gripe that the race isn’t on the coast–New York or Southern California, but most are foreigners who’ve never strayed to the interior of the US. If the racing is good–and the nightlife is great–believe me, it’s great in Austin–the critics will shut up. I’ll see y’all on Sixth Street next year!

  13. Harvey says:

    James: You’ll recall that at the Montreal Fans Forum one of the central themes of FOTA was the need to develop a new fan base in the US due to the declining and aging fan base especially in Europe. As a US Formula One fan for over 40 years, I hated the idea of a race in Texas in June where air temperatures would almost certainly be in the 90 to 95 degree Fahrenheit range. Not a good way to build a base! It was a good move to re-schedule the race to November.

    That being said, let me comment on the political schemes mentioned above by your readers as well as the potential locations for other US races. First, the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is indeed running for President of the United States. Red McCombs, prominently mentioned in the news story, donated $398,625 to the Perry campaigns for Governor of Texas from 2001 through 2010, and I’m sure is a major donor to his presidential campaign (first Perry financial disclosure forms due this month). Perry is the longest serving Governor in the history of Texas and controls every regulatory board. This project would not have been possible without the express consent of Governor Perry. It’s possible, or probable, that as his presidential campaign comes under increasing scrutiny, his relationships with wealthy donors and their relationships with him will be under the microscope. This could be the reason McCombs is pulling out. The State of Texas, not the US Treasury, is slated to contribute the $25 million a year, and I would expect that commitment will stay in the news because Perry is running on a no taxes limited government platform.

    Let’s turn the focus to Mr. Ecclestone, who said he wanted a race with the New York skyline as the background. Then Bernie, why go to Texas? Maybe it’s because if you staged a race with the NY skyline as a backdrop you’d be racing in Jersey City or Hoboken New Jersey. Quite a difference from Barcelona or Monte Carlo, eh, Bernie? Even more to the point, there is an existing track in upstate New York (not Watkins Glen) that was eager to stage a F1 race and would have gladly done everything necessary to revamp the circuit in time for a June race in 2012. The teams could drive across the border from Montreal in a few hours making everyone happy. Bernie gets his dough, the teams don’t have to travel very far for back to back races, it’s close enough to New York City so that if the teams or drivers want to do promotional work or schmooze with illustrious clints they could easily get there. Although everyone associated with F1 loves the older circuits like Monza and Spa, Bernie insists on new tracks i. e. more money for Bernie. And, incidentally, for Tavo. No wonder he’s moving on to Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa. Interesting that all three countries used to stage F1 events and have existing tracks that could be modified to conform to stricter safety regulations existing today. No money for Tavo if F1 goes back to Paul Ricard or the Oesterreichring!

    Here’s my idea for another venue for a US race, and I’ll admit I’m partial, having grown up in the Boston area. Boston, Massachusetts.
    Sweeping skyline views, Charles River (accomodations for yachts), riverfront viewing that could easily accomodate hundreds of thousands (they do it every year for 4th of July celebrations). Using the highways on both sides of the river and city streets in Boston and Cambridge, it might even remind some fans of Monaco. Culture, high tech and higher learning (MIT and Harvard University). You could even plan a collaborative event with engineers from MIT and F1 technical directors. Most important to FOTA and F1, lots of young people to see and become lifelong fans of motor sport.

    1. Sebee says:

      Thanks for the good info.

      Liberty State Park – I can’t for the life of me understand why they can’t put that race together. It makes incredible amount of sense, that park is at best filled with 1000 people per day on a normal summer day. Mostly used by people to drop their boats and park their pickups. Now after some redevelopment it’s better – but seriously, how inconvenient would it be to turn it into an Ile Notre Dame for 10 days? And I know that the the concrete and fencing would take away from the park’s open space, but in today’s age of weekend events how hard is that to put up and take down each year? Wanna bet it’s way cheaper than building Austin? If teams could make due with Monaco style pit lane, it would all be done on a budget to bring F1 to NYC – which is a perfect fit. I can’t understand why there was such resistance to it with all that money and influence across the river. Let’s not forget jobs, tourism, income for local businesses.

      OK, enough out of me for a while….

  14. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Personally all the US needs is support from the Red Bull marketing machine and it will be a hit. Expect RB to gear up the promos closer to the race. Arguably their PR has more pull than a lot of TV stations.

  15. andrew says:

    Everybody is missing the point about America’s importance to F1. It’s all about sponsors! America is the single largest consumer of everything made in the world—fact. Specifically, somewhere between 23% to 25% of everything created on earth is sold in America. That’s no bananas! So if you are Marlboro, Mercedes Benz or Ferrari, or AT&T or GE, where do you have to succeed at Marketing? It’s simple—America. That’s why Bernie/CVC desperately needs to put the USA on the map in order to finally sell up whenever they decide to retire. Without America in the frame, their business enterprise is worth easily 25% less. We all have to live with this simple reality. Even FOTA has to swallow hard on this one and accept it. So let’s all welcome F1 back to the USA, it’s inevitable.

    1. This is definitely true. The more US companies get to hear about F1, the more they are likely to sponsor the sport and it already has a little-acknowledged but proven track record. Research produced by the Formula Money (www.formulamoney.com) consultancy, which I own a stake in, shows that more F1 sponsors are headquartered in the US than any other country. Indeed, the US has claimed this top spot for the past five years running with 34 companies based in the country sponsoring the sport. Its closest rival is the UK (which is not surprising given the number of teams based here) which is where 31 sponsors are based.

      Even Italy only provides 19 sponsors to the sport this year. The smaller size of the country is a factor in this however, the target audience of its businesses may also play a part. The fact that almost half of F1’s races are in Asia makes the sport an ideal vehicle for sponsors looking to increase their awareness in this region. It is a further explanation as to why F1 is attractive to US companies with international ambitions (in contrast perhaps to there being fewer Italian businesses with ambitions of global domination). The only thing stopping even more US sponsors coming on board is that F1 is still relatively unknown in the country. Even one race in the US would give the sport more awareness than it is getting at the moment.

      It is worth bearing in mind though that the big beneficiaries of this scenario are the teams and not FOM…

  16. Randy Torres says:

    Well as I go down the thread I see more American posters setting the record straight regarding politics, taxes and even American fan interest in F1. Even with those clarifications there are some mistakes.

    First and foremost, let’s discuss Austin as a venue. Lovely TOWN, home of the U of T Longhorns, one of the most livable cities in America yada, yada yada. In a phrase: it ain’t New York. I know some poster above compared it to Montreal, but sorry fellas that’s just wishful Texan thinking. Montreal is a diverse, sophisticated “European” city Austin is a great southwestern college town. Sorry, I’ve been to both places and that’s just the plain truth.

    Another common mistake: folks I don’t really care about the skyline as a backdrop, New Jersey is NOT New York, its as simple as that. You want Formula 1 in New York, you put it in New York, not New Jersey. You really want America, and the world to sit up and take notice of the USGP, you put the race in New York City (not Watkins Glen, not upstate NY, not NJ). It really is that simple.

    You want to promote F1 with those very cool city drives, a la Ferrari in Moscow, Red Bull in Santo Domingo and I forgot who in Beijing? Two words: Times Square.

    For all my Texan friends that will roll their eyes, let me point just one thing out. Last summer in Times Square we had a rodeo. Yup, a rodeo, complete with cowboys, horses and bulls. That event got more international exposure and viewership for the rodeo than all rodeos ever held combined (OK maybe a slight exaggeration, but Times Square is known as the cross roads of the world, companies that don’t sell their products in the US put up billboards in Times Sq and there’s a reason for that).

    So what’s my point? Simple this race needed to be in NYC, period end of story. A plan was discussed during the Dinkins administration, but sadly nothing came of it. A Monaco style city circuit could easily be built in downtown Manhattan (all it costs is millions, but so what, its all about the attendance, the City would recoup its investment 10 fold): West Side Highway, past the World Trade Center, under the Battery Tunnel, up South Street to Wall Street (yup THAT Wall St.), Broadway (yes the Great White Way) to Chambers and back to West Side Highway. St. Attendance? Half a million at least! Ticket prices? Unfortunately, this is New York City where it costs $13 to cross a bridge, so tickets are gonna cost ya!

    As much as it pains me to side with him, Ecclestone is right the USGP needs to be in NYC.

    1. Phil says:

      I was born and grew up in Texas (Houston metro area). I lived in New York City (East Village) for six years. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited Montreal (IMO the best city on the “East Coast” after New York. Sorry Boston.) So I have a familiarity with all the cities mentioned. First, and I hate to burst your bubble, there will never be a race in NYC. NEVER. There will be a group of haters that will stop a race being run through the city streets. I can give you the reasons they will mention: it’s not a “green” sport; 15,000-18,000 RPM engines roaring through Times Square is major noise pollution issue; the F1 race would be a prime terrorist target, etc. You will NEVER have a race in New York City. All it takes is one disgruntled resident and a fax machine and you’re done. That’s why New Jersey would be the perfect backdrop for a NYC race–many developers have given up on building in NYC because of the hassles. If you look across the Hudson River, Jersey City has a skyline that’s starting to compete with Manhattan; that’s because it’s easier (and cheaper) to build in New Jersey. If you don’t have a race in New Jersey (or Watkins Glen), you’ll never have one in the New York/New Jersey metro area.
      Austin is a great city. I’ve never said it’s Montreal. It’s Austin, Texas; it’s got its own character unlike any other city in the F1 circus. It’s certainly isn’t “European” in flavor, like Montreal, or to a lesser extent, a New York City. You seem to conflate “European” and “sophisticated.” I don’t mean to sound like a travel guide, but Austin is a “sophisticated” and diverse Southwestern American city–it mixes Texas and Latino culture (no other city on the F1 circus does that) it has a big injection of youth (over 50 thousand students at the University of Texas), great music scene (“Live Music Capital of the World”), and there are transplants from all over the world, drawn by the high tech industry (contrary to what many people think, the biggest component of the Texas economy isn’t cattle or oil, it’s information technology, and Austin is it’s geek capital). Austin is a great destination in its own right, like Montreal, and when you throw in an F1 race, it’s a no-brainer. I have a hard time believing that there are a bunch of hardcore European (and American) F1 fans that will refuse to go to the Austin GP because it’s not New York, and it will fail because it’s not New York. Dream all you want about a New York City GP, it’ll never happen. Austin will suceed or fail based on quality of the race. And if the racing is good, and you throw in the must see destination of Austin as an addition benefit, I predict this will quickly become one of the fans’ and drivers’ favorites.

      1. James Allen says:

        Thanks for your input

      2. Randy Torres says:

        Phil fair enough I don’t mean to disparage Austin as it is a great city, and that’s based on personal experience. Generally I like Texas, I worked there in the late 80s (mostly Midland, but also Dallas), and like Texans, even if they always mispronounce Houston. Having said that I think we can both agree that as a media center, NYC would have far more impact for F1 than Austin. I truly hope Austin succeeds as an F1 venue and you can be sure that I will travel to the race just as I do to Montreal (although, perhaps ironically, traveling to Montreal from NYC is far less of a hassle)! The important thing is that there will again be a USGP.

        Having said that, let me make a few points relative to the issues you mentioned. First you are probably right a F1 race will probably never happen in NYC. Nonetheless, I’m not so sure that if a well heeled and obstinate promoter, somebody like say, Bruce Ratner, wanted to make a go of it, that a bunch of green guys with a fax machine could stop him. You do know that Atlantic Yards is being built and the Nets are coming to Brooklyn right?

        Also, its not about the skyline as much as it is about the media impact, flair, the atmosphere and the visual impact. The idea of holding an F1 race in Jersey that I’ve seen discussed is to have the race along the Hudson River around Boulevard East in Union City and surrounding areas. The skyline view from that location would be midtown Manhattan NOT Jersey City. So again its all about taking advantage of New York City’s mystique. I mean Union City vs. the canyons of Wall Street? C’mon that’s a no brainer!

        By the way I will be the first to admit that NYC has ceded its architectural preeminence to places like Singapore, Shanghai and even Dubai, but Union City has a very long way to go before it even compares to NYC’s skyline.

        The other issue that I think has to be taken into consideration is exactly where the race would be held. Times Square? Totally and completely out of the question. The Financial District on the other hand is way more feasible. If you map the route I proposed in my post you will see that the only truly residential area is Battery Park City. Everything else is a commercial/office area. The race would be held on a weekend and as you know even pedestrian traffic is light in the Financial District on weekends. In fact the City might even embrace the event as a way to promote FiDi on weekends. The other thing to consider is that it would be a temporary track and by Monday morning its business as usual.

        So you’re probably right no race in NYC ever and you are ABSOLUTELY right Austin will be a great venue for the USGP. Still the thought of the sound of those engines reverberating against the Wall St. canyon walls..

      3. Phil says:

        You cannot compare the environmental impact of the NJ Nets (professional basketball team) playing in Brooklyn vice running a race through lower Manhattan–It’s apples and oranges. I agree it would be cool to have an F1 street race in lower Manhattan. It just wouldn’t happen. There would be too much opposition, not to mention, it makes little financial sense. It would take days, if not weeks, to set up the chicanes, barriers, etc. for a race. It would be highly disruptive to businesses in lower Manhattan (I agree with you that it’s the only place you could feasibly have a race in Manhattan). New York would have to invest millions, perhaps tens of millions of dollars, on improving the streets for racing. Also, a lot of people do live in the Wall Street area (office buildings converted into apartments) even if it’s not a true residential area. I think the noise issue would kill the chances of a race in lower Manhattan, as it would be disruptive to the many residents who live there.

        Furthermore, I don’t think a race in New Jersey makes sense either. It wouldn’t do New Jersey much financially–after the race, 95 percent of the fans would go back to their hotels in Manhattan and spend their money there. There’s little financial sense to stage the race in the New York metro area–It’s not profitable for New Jersey and the demographic that’s attracted to the race doesn’t need an F1 race to go to New York City and spend their money.

        It would certainly make financial sense for F1 to have the race in New York. It’s a huge media market. Every day and night time talk show would have F1 drivers on them promoting the sport to Americans. But, for this to work, the proposed New York GP would have to be a “loss leader,” i.e. F1 would have to accept lower fees from promoters to have the race in order to promote it to Americans, attracting American sponsorship, etc… That’s the only way I could see it being sold. However, I don’t see Bernie doing that (and neither do you).

        All I know, there are two races I’m planning on seeing next year–Montreal and Austin. I can’t wait…

        For you foreigners who are reading this and are confused and wondering why Austin and not New York or Los Angeles, here’s a quote from David Coultard in the Austin Statesmen, when he went there to promote Red Bull Racing, that summarizes what we’ve been talking about:

        “When they said Austin, I had no idea what Austin represented and Texas and why it would work,” Coulthard said. “And now I completely get it. This is a vibrant venue, it’s a young venue, and there’s a real understanding here of European events and world affairs in the people that I’ve come across.”

  17. Robert Powers says:

    This is the first real Formula One circuit in the U.S. It will have issues it’s first year. Then it will have a life of it’s own. Not because of Austin. Because everyone is going to love it. Most corners in the U.S. have been slow. F1 cars haven’t been able to show their true characteristics here. One year from now the video of the event will catch people’s attention, attracting more fans from around Texas and the world. These are the fastest cars- they stop the fastest is why. But they must get up to speed to show that.

  18. Titus Pullo says:

    An F1 race at Austin may do well for a year or two but interest and attendance will fade. Bernie Ecclestone’s modus operandi is to gouge as much money as possible out of the track owners and taxpayers, as compared to NASCAR which has been very successful in charging a low fee, sharing TV and concessions money with the tracks. The costs of paying for this track alone will cause it to fail. What else are they going to have: Sustralian Super V-8 cars? Moto GP?

    As for racing in New York, I can just see an F1 driver like Hamilton or Alonso going on WFAN to have Mike Francesa ask/answer all the question he puts to him. Like the time he had the LA Galaxy owner and he asked if David Beckham would finally get to make some big money playing soccer here. CART didn’t work in the 1980s when they were in the Meadowlands parking lot, F1 won’t either.

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