Will a Miami GP, if it happens, dilute the US fan base?

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The potential Miami Grand Prix has prompted excitement as well as concern and while Formula 1 has been rumored to have done a “special” deal with promoters—which has raised the ears of other promoters paying full-tilt for the privilege—it now seems that the deadline for the Miami Grand Prix has passed according to a report at Forbes.

On the heels of that news, there has been some folks wondering where this leaves the USGP in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). COTA president, Bobby Epstein says it isn’t good:

“I think in the long term it can be good. But there is a risk. There is clearly a risk to diluting the product before the fan base has increased.

“But when the long-term goal is to increase the fan base, it is a chicken or egg scenario. Which comes first? In the early years, it remains to be seen if that is a positive for us.

“The first year, you haven’t increased the fan base but you’ve increased the options, so it will be tough at first. We will see how it impacts us.”

Will it dilute the US fan base? Epstein remains positive but according to the report, he would like it moved to another date for obvious reasons:

“We would obviously like to see us separated as far away from other races that are competing for the same fans, so we don’t force them to make a choice,” he added.

“Logistically that has to make sense for everyone and it is tough to see a way around it, but forcing the fan to choose is of no help to anyone.”

The issue, for me, is that F1 has stated they would like to increase F1 in the US and that’s great but it does present a challenge with Bobby who is still paying for the legacy model. I doubt he had exclusives on any race in the US but if he’s paying million per year for the privilege while Miami is rumored to have a freebie or paying very little, it does suggest an issue.

F1 wants a destination city and making a sweet deal to get one suggests that Austin isn’t. F1 also seems to be looking at Formula E’s model of trying to find street circuits and epicenters of population as well as amenities and other attractions to draw crowds. Bobby make a singular point that resonates with me but I’m a purpose-built circuit snob:

“There are hundreds of millions of people in North American so my mindset is to be optimistic,” he explained.

“There is a huge difference between a street race from the fan experience, from the TV side, and from the race competition.

“This track is designed for competition and we know that it has a lot of overtaking opportunities.

“I’m certainly a little apprehensive, but very optimistic that it is a race against time as to whether or not you can build the fan base before the pain of splitting up the fans takes its toll.”

If F1 is paying attention to the voice of the fans on social media and forums, they’ll notice that a few street courses are great but a bunch of them isn’t. I’ve seen a lot of pushback on that current focus regardless of what Herman Tilke says about it. IF F1 can’t afford or find purpose-built circuits to race on, then they have bigger problems than we thought and must be trying to sell street circuits as the new “trend”…and we all want to be in on the new “trend” right?

Hat Tip: Autosport and Forbes

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The NYC ePrix is this weekend-it’s going to be hawt as bawlz; you think I want to go to Austin or Miami, even in Indian Summer? No, open-wheel racing has been diluted ever since IMS Speedway’s “Tony” George pulled a fast one on everyone. No, I’d go to Edmonton, Belles Isle, even Long Beach before South Beach.

Lumsden
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Lumsden

While the rumored Miami circuit leaves much to be desired, I like the addition of another race in the US and would likely attend. I do enjoy some of the new street circuits added to the F1 calendar (Baku – never thought I would have said that when it was first announced!) but I’d rather see a return to a classic American track with Laguna Seca top of the list followed by the Glen or Road America. If a major city is a must think outside the box – New York City’s Governors Island!

jtr
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jtr

I live in the northeast, and it’ll still be much easier to go to Montreal than to either Austin or Miami. Even if they had three races in the US, they’d run into the inevitable issue that it’s a huge damn country, and no matter where you put the races, you’re putting a lot of fans outside of reasonable road-trip range. And it costs about twice as much to go to a race weekend if you fly there than if you drive. I would love to see the New Jersey idea that’s been floating around come to fruition, though it… Read more »

subcritical71
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subcritical71

A picture is worth a thousand words so here are two (courtesy of: http://overlapmaps.com)

I realize that the US doesn’t have the same market penetration as, say, Europe. But we also do not have the exposure. With 3 races in North America, for the majority of people these are still too far to be a viable trip.

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 11.53.03 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 11.52.18 AM.png
Member

Do I want purpose built tracks? Hell yea Do I care where they are? Hell no! Do I really want a street race in Miami? Hell yea! I live here. Lol But honestly let’s get to the point why they choose Miami and their need for it. F1 Goal for the US. – Increase fanbase 1) Get celebrities to go to races 3) People follow celebrities (Instagram, Twitter, etc) 4) Celebrities love Miami 5) Get celebrities there, fans of the celebrities go there or at least follow their actions and see F1. 6) Convert some to F1 fans, some casual… Read more »

Nige
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If you want to talk dilution, I say the real problem is there are too many races! If I miss a race, I don’t care, there are twenty more to choose from! If my favorite British driver gets nailed in the first lap, so what? I just switch off and wait till the next race when he can do good again. I know I sound absurd, but you can have too much of a good thing. These races mean less and less every year because there are so many of them. You aren’t as emotionally invested in these events because… Read more »

RacingTexas
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RacingTexas

COTA was already diluted. Ray Charles could see that. Bobby is simply postering for a better deal with LM. When’s the last time you sat in the turn 11 grandstands??