British Bias On Formula 1

To be fair, the UK is home to F1 motorsport and is the epicenter of the news surrounding the sport. NASCAR can say the same here. As such, the news will be centered on British views on the subject and more importantly, British drivers in the sport. I really can’t fault that. Just look at the complaining we do about Speeds unnatural obsession with NASCAR coverage. It gets tedious and completely overwhelming given so many other racing series are out there to watch. To be quite honest, I would rather watch British coverage and read British press on F1 than be subjected to another hour of NASCAR coverage on Speed. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. ALMS exists here and so much of American motorsport success is really about the buck (not that British isn’t) and I think the ALMS stands a chance of succeeding where CHAMP and the IRL have and are failing.

I think many of us would agree that there really is a huge segment of Americans that truly love touring car or sports car races; not just ovals. American free market systems have failed to tap into this market and shockingly you have legends like Don Panoz and Roger Penske behind the series. True American gentlemen racers whose integrity renders certain leaders in F1 as the moral equivalent of Grima Wormtongue.

Already teamed with IRL events to tap into their fan base, ALMS is growing. I think it’s a great idea but they need to be careful of the IRL brand equity seeping into ALMS. There are a lot of bad connotations with the IRL/ CART split and Tony George at the helm. That may not be a reality at the owner level but from the fan base, it exists.

ALMS needs to work with the SCCA and start local events that have local support attached to local business charities to get the families out. They could also seek the lower open-wheel programs to work as a feeder series for ALMS. The key here is to keep the series open to European drivers such as McNish, Duma, Werner, Capello, Salo and Tom K. This ensures that our crop of drivers from Barber’s school are compared with the best and keeps the international appeal that is so deeply rooted in road racing.

This is not a type of racing that has an All-American roots; it is European and we should embrace that without the pomp of having to own it in order to be interested. By starting the American LE MANS Series (thank you Don Panoz), we pay homage to the original. We should be more inclined to build up our presence on the world stage of motorsport instead of doing what we did to Canada and just buying Hockey and ruining the majesty of its origins.

Phil Hill and Dan Gurney never pretended to own the sport of F1; they were humble participants in a motor series on the world stage. We should seek a local systematic feeder program attached to a larger series like ALMS to once again offer a real American F1 pilot that has raced with the top and deserves a spot on the grid. Not just because he’s American but because he’s from an American driver development program that churns out champions. Is there anyone who doesn’t think Brazil gives birth to incredible F1 pilots? It is a reputation that Brazilians should be very proud of. The British should be proud of their legacy in motorsport and for giving the world such luminaries as Jimmy Clark, Graham Hill, Sterling Moss and Sir Jackie.

In closing; we Americans should be able, in time, to say the following:

Formula 1 Champions aren’t born in America; they’re made there!

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