This may come as a bit of a controversial declaration but I believe the United States Grand Prix in Austin should be the season-ending race for Formula One. I know this won’t be a popular sentiment for many F1 fans nor millions of rabid F1 junkies in Brazil but the US has a history of being the final race when Watkins Glen’s fall leaves and cool temperatures signaled the end of a season.
The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) has asked the FIA to re-visit their proposed date for the race on November 17th due to a University of Texas football game that garners 100,000 fans. The hotel issues, shuttle problems and taxi cab nightmare would be heightened and it stands to hurt both events. FIA representative, Nick Craw, told the my buddy Dave Doolittle at the Statesman:
“We are aware of the UT date and are considering options to move away from it. It’s up to COTA.”
For COTA’s part, circuit boss Steve Sexton said:
“We do not control the calendar for Formula One, and one of their main challenges is the logistics of their world schedule.”
On the surface you could presume that the UT football game draw will hurt the attendance for the race and that may be more true than I would have originally suspected. I noticed that the amount of local presence at the inaugural race last November was very high. That’s great that the indigenous are keen to see what they’ve built in their own backyard.
The other side of that story, from my perspective, is that you would have liked to have seen more national and international attendance at the race. This is the real market you want to attract. Locals are perfectly fine but you wouldn’t want them comprising the majority of attendees if you are trying to build a national presence with F1 in Austin. That’s not to say there was no national or international presence, there was. Just not as much as I think COTA would have liked to have seen.
The November 17, 2013 date also coincides with NASCAR’s final race and while that may not be an attendance suck, it could be a viewer drain and as NBC has just paid dearly for the rights to broadcast Formula One, they would be keen to see it move as well.
In the end, call me nostalgic. I like the idea of the US being the final race of the season. Start down under and finish up top. Follow the seasons and it makes for good calendar creation and logistics. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.