F1 vets a 2nd track, though Austin would be ‘U.S.’ Prix

new Jersey, new York groups look to land a for­mula One race

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By John Ma­her

For­mula One is look­ing to add a sec­ond U.S stop, along with Austin, to its fu­ture race cal­en­dar, but F1 boss Bernie Ec­cle­stone said the Austin race would get the pres­ti­gious ti­tle of the U.S. Grand Prix.

Ec­cle­stone made those com­ments in a phone con­ver­sa­tion last week with the Amer­icanStatesman. Since then it has been re­ported that en­gi­neers from the Ger­man firm that does most of the F1 con­struc­tion work, Tilke GmbH, have been in New Jersey.

The Mon­ti­cello Mo­tor Club in New York also re­mains in dis­cus­sions with F1 man­age­ment about stag­ing a Grand Prix, ac­cord­ing to Mon­ti­cello pres­i­dent Ari Straus.

How­ever, Ec­cle­stone said, “There are no agree­ments. We haven’t fi­nal­ized any­thing.”

Allen Spelce, a spokesman for Texas Comptroller Su­san

Combs, said the New Jersey an­nounce­ment would not have an im­pact on the state’s agree­ment with pro­moter Tavo Hell­mund to pay $25 mil­lion per year to­ward the sanc­tion­ing fee F1 charges lo­cal pro­mot­ers to host a race. Hell­mund, man­ag­ing part­ner of Full Throt­tle Pro­duc­tions, could not be reached for com­ment Tues­day.

Un­til Hell­mund’s group stunned the mo­tor­sports world by land­ing the F1 race, the ap­par­ent fron­trun­ner for the U.S. stop had been Mon­ti­cello, a lux­ury driv­ing re­sort just north­west of New York City. A pro­posed site in New Jersey, at Lib­erty State Park, was quickly nixed by Jersey City Mayor Jer­ramiah T. Healy in March.

On Tues­day, vet­eran F1 race or­ga­nizer Chris Pook of Long Beach, Calif., con­firmed that he was work­ing with the cur­rent New Jersey group. Cit­ing a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment, Pook de­clined to pro­vide any fur­ther de­tails, in­clud­ing the lo­ca­tion of the pro­posed site.

Pook brought the U.S. Grand Prix West to the streets of Long Beach in 1976. At that time, Watkins Glen, also in New York state, hosted the U.S. Grand Prix. In ad­di­tion to that race, Pook has been in­volved with F1 events in Detroit, Las Ve­gas and Dal­las.

Some years have seen more than one F1 race in the U.S. There were three F1 Grand Prix races in 1982 — in Detroit, Las Ve­gas and Long Beach — which re­mains the only time three F1 Grand Prix races were held in the same coun­try.

There are cur­rently 19 stops on the F1 cal­en­dar, which runs from mid-March to mid-Novem­ber. Be­cause of the large cost of trans­port­ing equip­ment, many as­sume that the North Amer­i­can stops would be grouped close to­gether. The Cana­dian Grand Prix was held June 11-13 this year.

At a re­cent F1 fan fo­rum in London, in­flu­en­tial McLaren team boss Martin Whit­marsh said, “I think 20 races is a lot in my opin­ion. … Twenty races is three-day events at 60 days of the year, and I don’t think our prod­uct is one that you want greater ex­po­sure than that.”

At the same fo­rum, Lo­tus boss Tony Fer­nan­des expressed hopes for bet­ter mar­ket­ing of the sport. “Maybe we should be work­ing in Amer­ica al­ready so that when we do ar­rive in Texas (in 2012), there is a lot of an­tic­i­pa­tion for it,” Fer­nan­des said. “But if we just turn up for two weeks and ex­pect ev­ery­where to be full, I don’t think it will hap­pen.”

In May, Austin was an­nounced as the site of the U.S. Grand Prix. A track lo­ca­tion has not been made pub­lic, and con­struc­tion has yet to be­gin.

Ec­cle­stone ac­knowl­edges the 2012 dead­line is an am­bi­tious one. “If this was in Asia, I wouldn’t be that concerned,” he said. “I don’t know how long it takes to build things in Amer­ica these days.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.