Formula 1 shot caller Bernie Ecclestone recently confirmed that he has been holding talks with the organizers of the Long Beach Grand Prix with the goal of bringing F1 to the US West Coast perhaps as early as the 2014 season.
IndyCar currently has a contract with the street circuit, where F1 races were held from 1976 – 1983, that is set to expire. With negotiations on an East Coast race in New Jersey at a stand-still it appears Bernie has turned wagons west and is looking for another home for a second US race. Ecclestone did say that he had hopes of getting the Jersey Shore race back on track, but concluded his comments by saying, “we are talking to different people in the States but who knows.”
One thing seems for sure; Formula 1 wants a bigger slice of the US market. After a highly successful first running of the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas back in November of 2012 the potential for F1 to grow in the United States is becoming apparent. Being an Austin resident I can attest to the notable increase of interest in Formula 1 in the city and state since the pre-race festivities started prior to the inaugural GP. America has a long standing love affair with the automobile, and racing is a huge sport here. There is no reason to think that Formula 1 can’t be accommodated in the US.
The US Grand Prix has a prime spot on the Formula One schedule in terms of generating interest and making sure that fans are paying attention. International fans won’t skip the race and your average American motorsports nut will be pulled in by the allure of F1, especially since being the second to last Grand Prix of the season means it is a key player in how the championships play out.
A second US race, be it in New Jersey with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop or in Long Beach with the California sun and the beach babes, would be a huge step forward in cementing a place for Formula 1 in the mind of American racing fans. If two more US dates could be added, the impact would be immense.
Three races in one country in a multinational sport like F1 may sound ridiculous, but when you consider the geography it really isn’t too far-fetched. For example: the distance from the Nurburgring in Germany to Budapest, Hungary is just over 700 miles, while the distance from the coast of New Jersey to Austin, TX is about 1,700 miles. If you’re a European F1 fan and are concerned with cultural diversity then you need not worry because I can assure you there are vast differences between New Jersey and Texas.
If the dream scenario played out and two more US dates were added it would benefit not only the US and North American fans of F1, but the entire sport. North American fans would then have four races that they could get to with relative ease (Austin, Montreal, Long Beach, and New Jersey) and that would allow for fewer multi-week gaps in the Formula 1 schedule. No F1 fan can argue against fewer breaks and more racing.
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