Saturday, 5 June 2010

Return of the US Grand Prix - Doomed to Failure

In this life, one thing counts, in the bank large amounts......
Yes, I'm afraid he's at it again. It has been announced that the United States F1 Grand Prix is to be resurrected and held at that world renowned motor racing metropolis of err Austin, Texas from 2012 onwards.
Mr Eccclestone, apparently, has no doubt this will be the perfect venue for F1 in the United States. Do me a favour. The only reason I can see that the US Grand Prix would be held in a backwater like Austin, Texas is the fat cheque that he will receive from the event organisers.
Holding an event in Austin is doomed to failure. It has been reported that the State Government is backing the scheme. If I were a Texan taxpayer and they wanted to put my tax Dollars into Ecclestone's pocket, I'd have the State Governor tarred, feathered and run out of town!
Formula 1 has already had a torrid time in the United States and has never achieved the popularity that it has elsewhere around the globe. In 1991 only 18,000 or so bothered to attend the US GP at Phoenix, Arizona.
In my opinion, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) made a good fist of running the GP from 2000 to 2007 and is the only sensible place to hold an F1 race in the US. After all they know how to put on an event after running the Indy 500 for a century and safely accommodating crowds of up to 500,000.

In 2000, the US GP attracted an estimated crowd of 225,000 - levels of support which other F1 venues around the world can only dream of. The US GP at Indianapolis was fatally damaged, not through any fault of the IMS, but by the Michelin tyre fiasco in 2005 when only six cars competed in the race.
Ecclestone's negotiations with the IMS foundered when they, sensibly, refused to pay his asking price to hold the event. Whilst some GP's receive financial backing from their Governments, the IMS did not have this luxury.
In 2002 I was fortunate to attend the US GP in Indianapolis and ticket prices (from memory)were only around $ 60 or $ 70. Two years later I attended the Belgian GP at Spa. Ticket price (from memory) £ 200 plus....
You hear Ecclestone whinging about low crowd attendances in places like Turkey and China. He blames the organisers for poor promotion but in reality it is the price of tickets which are totally out of the reach of the ordinary "man in the street" race fans.
It's a long time between now and 2012 but if the US GP does take place in Austin, Texas and continues for the full contracted ten races, I'll eat my hat!
What do you think? Do you agree/disagree with me? Why not leave a comment? They are always welcome.


Glen said...

I have some very nice hat ketchup, but I don't think you'll be needing it.

The prices are so high to maintain the fee that Bernie demands it is madness. I'd love to go but just can't justify the spend. This year I'm going to Silverstone for the first time ever - but only to the Friday practice, the other days were just too damned expensive.

INDY was indeed the only place where it could have worked and probably would have done if it hadn't been for 2005, Bernie should have halved their fee and signed up again to get them to keep interested after that.

They will struggle to fill grounds in Austen - agreed

Dai McCann said...

Great point, well made. It is ahard enough sell in the East, imagine how hard it's going to be to sell it in the NASCAR obsessed mid-west. Add in the ticket prices needed to pay for the facility and a recipe for a disaster is on the cards. I'm going to Silverstone with my Son next week and it's costing the same as a family holiday, £390 for our tickets, £150 for camping (not Silverstone's own site of course) that's before I've spent a penny at the event. GRRR

Hank said...

Very good article. I agree totally that Austin is not only a poor venue, but a total shock. And I am from America !

Why in the world it is not at IMS is beyond me, but why Austin? Do they care about racing at all in Austin? Doubt it. And what are the other draws for the fans of F1? None that I can think of, unless the Austin Motor Sorts Hall of Fame is going to be added soon, lmao.

Had heard a rumor about a year ago that Las Vegas, Nevada was trying to lure the F1 race to a new road course they have. It may not be Indy, but it would be far better than flipping Austin !