It’s been thirty years since the great state of New York has hosted a F1 Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. The last race, held in the autumn of 1980, was won by Alan Jones and signified the end of America’s love affair with the European open-wheel racing series. Several attempts have been made to host the race in California, Nevada, Texas and most recently Indianapolis. All have failed to garner the interest and romantic notions that the Glen did and for me, it seems the Glen was the last of the real racing circuits America offered the eccentric F1 series.
This week Formula One Management group boss Bernie Ecclestone said he would like to see a race return to New York (actually across the river in New Jersey with NY as the back drop) in 2012. Little doubt this would be a street course which, it must be said, seems to be the conventional methodology of hosting a race as of late. The world economy has fewer countries investing millions in a dedicated racing circuit so a street course seems logical.
The cost to arrange a street race is still large but less so than a new circuit such as China, Abu Dhabi or Malaysia et. al. The additions of Valencia and Singapore join Monaco, Australia, Canada as converted street courses to the 2010 calendar. Being honest, it is understandable from a cost factor as the speeds are less, costs to create a safe circuit is reduced and the outlay of cash for a massive, permanent structure is avoided.
The question is, can New York provide a proper circuit for F1? Will a street circuit survive in America…again? The USGP at Indy was a nice gesture on IMS’s part to even spend the money improving the circuit for the F1 race but it was a Roval and not a very convincing one at that. Many have questioned why we don’t have it at the Glen or Elk heart or Road Atlanta but the answer is simple, too much money to make circuit improvements for F1 cars.
This leaves us with a street circuit concept like Long Beach which begs the questions, why not Long Beach? What do you think? Can F1 survive as a street circuit in NY? Where would you like to see the race? Keep in mind it has to be populated, easy to get to and desirable…guess that leaves out Washington DC.