More on a possible U.S. Grand Prix

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The proposed U.S. Grand Prix in rural New York state would not “run into a similar situation as Indianapolis,” the track’s chairman tells the BBC, which I believe has the first extended interview with the would-be F1 race hosts.

As reported yesterday, the Monticello Motor Club is negotiating with F1, and Bernie Ecclestone, to bring a race back to the states for as long as a decade. They are targeting a 2012 start. The private club is about 90 miles outside of New York City.

The BBC story adds a bit of information:

Monticello chairman McMichael, along with circuit president Ari Strauss, met Ecclestone and F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke in 2009.

“We had contacted F1, specifically Ecclestone, last year with regards to potentially hosting an F1 race,” added McMichael.

“After the meeting they said Monticello would be a nice place to host an F1 event. Since then we’ve been engaged in talks with the local government and F1 management in an attempt to finalise terms, but they haven’t been finalised yet.”

In order to be race ready for 2012, Tilke recommended that improvements would have to made to the grounds and the 4.1-mile circuit which is located in the Catskill mountains, about 75 minutes’ drive from downtown Manhattan.

“It’s a little bit early to say exactly how much it will cost but we will need to find approximately $150m,” added McMichael.

The MMC is a private members club and McMichael said some of the funding for improvements would be provided by themselves.

“We’ll try to get the money through a combination of public and private sources,” he continued.

“We can fund some on our own as a private entity. But we’ve pointed out the positive economic impact on the host city and community to local government officials. They are sorting a financial package that would support such an expenditure.”

We will now continue to negotiate with F1 management until both sides have agreement – then we pursue an event as quickly as possible

MMC chairman Bill McMichael

McMichael did not divulge what modifications would be needed to be made to the circuit, which is hopeful of a 10-year deal with F1.

[snip]

“We would not run into a similar situation as Indianapolis,” said McMichael.

“There would be enormous interest from the European, Asian and South American fan bases here. And hosting near New York makes sense in terms or travel, availability of hotel rooms and entertainment options.”

McMichael added: “We will now continue to negotiate with F1 management until both sides have agreement. Then we pursue an event as quickly as possible.”

I wrote yesterday that it was difficult to determine just how serious this proposal is. The BBC report gives it more heft, but a key figure still hasn’t spoken up: Bernie E.

Of course, we all know that if, or when, Bernie does talk, we will have to take his words with a huge grain of salt. He might say, “We’re very close to a deal” in order to put pressure on a different track, or vice versa.

I do think one strength this proposal seems to have is the public-private partnership angle. I’m just not sure how else a track could manage the fees and expense. (I think that was the unspoken, because I didn’t say it clearly enough, point behind my argument that the USF1 guys should have gone after a USGP instead of a team, because they could have created a public-private partnership to do so.)

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