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Calling F1 fans in the USA: Tell us how the US media is reporting the Austin Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Nov 2012   |  12:13 am GMT  |  288 comments

This weekend marks the return to the United States of Formula 1 after an absence of five years.

And as the USA is the second largest market for JA on F1 readers, with over 700,000 American visitors this year, we want to hear from you about how the event is being covered by the national and local press as well as TV and Radio.

Oscar Wilde said that ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about’ and that’s certainly true of this event. So is it being talked about or not? Let us know.

The event will be televised by Speed Channel, the penultimate race of its contract before F1 moves onto NBC. They will show all the practice sessions, qualifying and the race.

But what about sports news items, ESPN Sports Centre, CNN and the like? Is F1 on the map this week?

Austin is the 10th different venue for the Grand Prix, as it seeks to take root in the USA after numerous failed attempts over the years.

The event looks like being a success in Year One at a local level in Austin – most of the 120,000 tickets for the Circuit of the Americas have been sold, with three day passes going for $159. There is strong demand in the USA; it appears that only 80% of these tickets have been sold to US fans.

Austin’s location, within three hours drive of three major cities (Houston, Dallas and San Antonio) with a combined population of 22 million people, is encouraging, but only if the event is covered in the media.

The tricky part is always getting the customers to spread the word and come back in Year Two, but McLaren has lent them a hand by hiring Mexican Sergio Perez, which should ramp up demand from Mexican fans, based only a few hours drive away from Austin across the border.

Susan Combs, the state comptroller, who has organised for the state of Texas to channel $25 million of its Major Events Trust Fund into the event, told the Financial Times that “you’re going to see the global markets taking a look at Austin” – indicating that Austin’s interest is in putting itself on the map internationally.

But it needs the oxygen of publicity in the US and on that we would like US readers to keep us informed of how much penetration it is getting.

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Tuesday, and F1 is forgotten in the local media. At least race weekend saw a paragraph in the local paper and a brief mention on TV. F1 is like pro cycling…only the TdF gets mention, no other Grand Tour events seem to exist. Likewise, while the USGP got minimal coverage, you would think there was only one race to decide the championships. I live in Temple TX, 82 miles from home to parking lot P near turn 1.


James, I live in northwest lower peninsula of Michigan. The Traverse City Record Eagle did not carry anything at all. But the Petoskey News-Review today, Monday, had a paragraph on the race & on another page it listed the top 15 finishers with their country, car & time. 🙂


nice report in the NYT today


Thanks for that


Sun 18 Nov Update: just after the race –

– Wife and I went to a sports bar to watch race on Speed: needless to say we were the only ones to watch, tucked away in a small corner!

– Bar staff had no idea of the race being on.

– We have still seen NO mention of it anywhere on the media (except Speed) beforehand.


Sounds like the US is focussing on it’s own sports and ignoring F1 until after the event.

Much like here in the UK, football gets wall-to-wall coverage (I call the sports sections of papers the footie pages!) with F1 mentioned when something interesting happens.

We may consider ourselves as the ‘home’ of F1, but we don’t get huge coverage in the mainstream press at all. It does pick up around the British GP, but there can be nothing at times.

Better to judge the coverage a few days after the event, see if any interest has been stirred. Having Brazil next week should build on it slightly too.


It’s an F1 news vacuum in Hawaii so far. But then it typically is.



What car is Jr. Driving?

Texas, this is San Francisco why would we cover a race in Texas?

Go Niners.


It is all about the NASCAR final until I found one story about Perez this morning.

“A concern for the teams is this weekend’s conflict with the season finale in NASCAR, which enjoys a huge fan base and television exposure in the U.S.

“I think the major problem is that whatever weekend you stick a Formula One race there’s going to be a NASCAR race,” Horner said. “They seem to race every single weekend.”

Nothing on the local or national TV news here in Denver, Colorado.


Here are some interesting comments James regarding F1’s return to the U.S. from Caterham’s American test driver Alexander Rossi.

I find myself agreeing with much of what he says too:



Having read all of the above I just hope that next year’s MotoGP round at the circuit is FAR better advertised.

Val from montreal

Hey , when Wayne Gretzky got traded to Los Angeles in the late 80’s , hockey in California took off like a rocket ship …. Its because the “great one” was bigger than the sport itself …. F1 is less popular now in the states because on all honesty there is no stand-out superstar driver that gets their attention … All I can rembember is in the early 2000’s F1 had some popularity in the states and it was because of 1 certain german driver : Michael Schumacher driving his Ferrari …. Indianapolis gp was sold out gor the most part from 2000 to 2006 …. Many americans knew nothing about F1 back then ( and still do ) but in general Ferrari and Schumacher were known to a minimum at least …. Ask any american who the hell Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso is and they wont have a clue !! But adk them about Michael Schumacher and the chances of a positive response is at least 50/50 ……

Matthew S (from Texas)


I think the magic word in what you wrote was “Indianapolis”, not “Schumacher”.

Indy is America’s very own Temple of Speed. Americans know about Indy. You could have an ostrich race at Indy and people would show up.



I moved from the UK and live in Chicago, all my work colleagues know that I’m a huge F1 supporter and not one of them have mentioned it to me this week.

Most Americans don’t even know what Indycar is (they think it’s NASCAR) let alone F1. So F1 hasn’t a hope here until it goes to New Jersey/New York.


F1 is a niche sport in America, and will likely always be a niche sport. Even NASCAR is a niche sport, as in reality not that many people here actually follow NASCAR. There is nothing wrong with being a niche sport, but F1 will never become a mainstream sport like the NFL, basketball or baseball.

At best, it might be able to become as big as a sport like horse racing, something that people care about for a couple of major events, but forget about for the rest of the year. As an analogy, the USGP could be like the Kentucky Derby or a triple crown race, which a great deal of people are interested in, but very few care about the rest of the calendar.


flew into dallas from germany. no one knows anything about f1 race in their state. “dun even know wha a formula car looks like” was a good comment i heard when i asked a station attendant. f1 doesnt have a snow balls chance in hell here in hick town. sorry guys but it is true.


I see many comments about how this race is doomed and a failure. I am not buying the argument, the race is sold out! I think it will be in the future as well.

I don’t think the current USA media rights situation can be overstated. Next year NBC will promote. The Today Show, Leno, Jimmy Fallon: I would imagine guys will be on the air. How do we know F1 teams and organization haven’t tried to promote in that manner? Fox is still the 4th network, really no interest in building the brand. They also don’t have late night TV or a universally respected news outlet to promote this stuff, and it’s competing against their biggest money maker the NFL. I don’t think they are going to try and shift viewer from the Fox over the air channel to Speed Sunday afternoon. NBC doesn’t have Sunday afternoon NFL, they will try to promote.


I think my last ramble re-enforces the idea of a spring or summer race in the USA.

Matthew S (from Texas)

As of Friday morning the race is now on the main page of the Houston Chronicle web site.

The majority of the article is about the parties and celebrities and glitz and glamour. There are 24 paragraphs, and some more of the word “party” is mentioned in 10 of them.

The article mentions two current drivers: Alonso and Vettel.

The article mentions the following celebrities:

Ron Howard, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Mario Andretti, Eva Longoria, Enrique Iglesias, Steven Tyler, Peter Fonda, Dennis Quaid, Matt LeBlanc, Robert Rodriguez, Andy Roddick, Patrick Dempsey.

Oh, and this very important piece of info:

“Former “Friends” star LeBlanc has RSVP’d ‘and will arrive on a jet Saturday night’…



looked at the sports section foor google in the usa. on the bottom there are now some articles.

But most are more related to the last race and the start of this adventure.

ONly a few are about the sport.



A quick google search revealed some articles on LATimes.com and Forbes.com

Even if the sport doesn’t completely catch on in the US (which it won’t as we have enough sports to hold our attention), something the sport should aim for is at least casual knowledge of its existence, ocassional media coverage and a modicum of relevance in US popular culture (something the Premier league has). That would probably grant significant value in exposure for sponsors interested in the US market.

Sergio Nascimento

The problem is marketing, The F1 people has to do their job selling their fish, otherwise they will not get the return they want. Here in the USA you have over 100 talking shows, morning shows, news etc…., not one F1 personality show up in one to say anything about the race, not even Michael Andretti, “the supposed Ambassador”.

To win in America you have to give 100% or else, F1 now is only giving 1%.


Great comments from all the Nth American fans. I think F1 needs to stop talking about how good it is to be back and how F1 needs the US. They just need to get off their butts and do something, a few interviews here and there mean nothing. Put in the hard yards people, drivers owners engineers all team members. Don’t just do things for the corporate end.


This shows the lack of interest in formula 1 by american television in general. I am from Brazil, and i have been watching formula 1 since i was a child back home. When the race is going to be in Brazil, all media report on it. Now i am living in Australia, and 99% of the programmes they broadcast over here on TV is from America, which is nothing more nothing less than rubbish. By the way thats what these media enterprises from America love to broadcast, rubbish.


There seems to be a strong local push in Austin, but otherwise in the rest of the US, absolutely NOTHING.

Here’s a cool clip of promotional segment on a local Austin news network http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p32hW5FahFc


Thanks for the link! Looks like an awesome documentary. Looking forward to spring 13 when it hits the stands.


Agree with earlier comment there has been a lot of local coverage around Austin. But nothing where I live in Houston. There is a good article about the event in this November’s United Airlines in-flight magazine


As an Aussie living in California, very dissapointed with the lack of coverage. Why aren’t they running this race in Laguna Seca?

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