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Why Dallas, Detroit & Vegas


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#1 aportinga

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 13:11

Apolgies if it's been brought up but I've always wondered...

 

What in the world was going on with Road America, WG and many other tracks around the States that F1 decided to Detroit, Dallas and Vegas? 

 

Was it a venue issue - money or something else?



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#2 Charlieman

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 13:40

From the late 1970s, the UK TV F1 presentation was introduced by The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, but in our minds we heard Money, Money, Money by Abba. Increasingly so when Slim Borgudd was racing. As Abba sang:

 

So I must leave, I have to go

To Las Vegas or Monaco
And win a fortune in a game
My life will never be the same

 

Everything about these deals favoured F1 rather than the local race promoters. F1 races were on US TV in the middle of Sunday afternoon which suited F1 teams and their sponsors. The organisers were naive when it came to running motor racing and naturally used consultancy services from the usual suspects. Those races were a good test run for F1 races in countries with even more money and less sense.

 

There was even a possibility that John Watson would start at the bottom of the grid and deliver a cracking good race.



#3 Michael Ferner

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 15:08

One word, population. There's not much of that in upstate New York, rural Wisconsin or any other place where there are cracking good road racing tracks. Much easier to convert downtown Detroit or a parking lot in Vegas into an "acceptable" Grand Prix course. Acceptable, that is, for Messrs €ccle$tone and Mo$ley...



#4 aportinga

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 15:26

I figured - short sighted.

 

Too bad.

 

Thanks



#5 RA Historian

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 15:42

Road America gave some serious thought to having F-1 in the early '90s. However that did not get very far once they began to factor in not only the sanction fee but also the millions required to revamp the track to the standards demanded by Bernie et al. Add to that the hospitality and hotel requirements and the cost became insanely prohibitive. End of serious thought.

 

Tom



#6 Charlieman

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 16:25

One word, population. 

There's a common assumption that places with a large population contain lots of potential F1 spectators. The three US venues mentioned were not notable for enthusiastic crowds.

 

Thankfully the Japanese have ignored this mumbo jumbo and have held their GPs in the middle of nowhere on circuits which fans deludedly regard as splendid  :yawnface: In recent years (this may be news to Michael :D ) the COTA Austin race track has demonstrated that people in the USA and Mexico are very happy to travel to a purpose built circuit for a long weekend.



#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 17:48

COTA is a lovely circuit, but it's hardly in the middle of nowhere though. There's an international airport almost literally next door. The city of Austin is just the other side of the airport and both Houston and San Antonio are a figurative hop and skip away. Dallas is just over three hours by road. 4.5 million people live just in those four cities.



#8 Charlieman

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 18:24

COTA is a lovely circuit, but it's hardly in the middle of nowhere though. There's an international airport almost literally next door. 

I should have been clearer. My point is that Austin (I find COTA such an ugly expression) was designed to draw fans from more than the immediate area, and whilst I regard many of the popular music artistes who have performed post race as a bit naff, I'd probably let my hair down and miss the bus back to town if I had the chance. 



#9 PayasYouRace

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 18:27

Is there any truth to what I've heard about the extension to Laguna Seca being put in to try to attract the US Grand Prix when Detroit's contract ran out? Seems almost too good to be true. Instead we got Phoenix.

 

The idea of 1989-onwards F1 fields racing at Laguna is so enticing.



#10 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 19:10

Road Atlanta probably could have been developed up to F1 standards as well. Atlanta has metastasized to the point where Flowery Branch is no longer in the sticks.

As for COTA, I’ve never been to the track but for tv spectating I find it deadly boring.

#11 Risil

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 19:13

The Laguna Seca extension was first used in 1988, which was also the first year that the motorcycle road racing world championship raced there. So I'm not sure whether they were upgrading the track for the benefit of FIA or FIM (was Bernie involved in promoting both world championships as early as 1988?)

 

Also, I'm sure I read in Joe Saward's back catalogue that Road Atlanta was having a serious look at F1 in the late 1990s, but it was the same story related above: high fees, safety questions, lots of renovation required.



#12 Jim Thurman

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 20:35

I don't know if the operators at Laguna Seca had any serious thoughts about F1, but the extension was put in place primarily - if not solely - for motorcycle racing.



#13 SKL

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 20:37

What Tom said about RA.  I remember some of those discussions as that is (was) our "home" track.  The drivers would love it, but other than the American Club in Kohler, there was probably nothing a lot of the "Bernies" of the world would stay at.  IIRC Bernie wouldn't even stay in Indy during the indy F1 races and flew on his chopper to Chicago as nothing suited him in Indianapolis.  I remember watching him leave by chopper when we were at the race in 2000.   And when we were at the COTA race in 2014 they stopped traffic on the nearby interstate so his entourage could zoom by in their black MB's...



#14 JacnGille

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 02:05

Road Atlanta probably could have been developed up to F1 standards as well. Atlanta has metastasized to the point where Flowery Branch is no longer in the sticks.

As for COTA, I’ve never been to the track but for tv spectating I find it deadly boring.

Please leave my Road Atlanta alone. It has already been neutered (the modifications leading to T11, The Bridge). Lord knows what it would end up like after F1 got through with it.



#15 Sterzo

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 12:50

Far be it from me to say anything that might be misconstrued as favourable to Ecclestone and Mosley, but was their avarice the whole story? They did find better venues all over the world, even with their questionable approach.



#16 mariner

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 12:56

I am sure Mosport in Canada is a much better place now but I remember going to the Canadian GP there in  1977 or '78 and finding it a lonely place in a near wilderness.

 

However I  think it is only 50 miles or so from Toronto so it had a big catchment area..

 

Mind you the first time I landed at Montreal Dorval in the 1970's all I saw below were endless trees. Now it is totally surrounded by the city suburbs so it's hard ,I think ,for well located racetracks to avoid being swallowed up by the very conurbations which can give them a big enough audience - witness OMS and Riverside



#17 Duc-Man

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 15:33

One word, population. There's not much of that in upstate New York, rural Wisconsin or any other place where there are cracking good road racing tracks. Much easier to convert downtown Detroit or a parking lot in Vegas into an "acceptable" Grand Prix course. Acceptable, that is, for Messrs €ccle$tone and Mo$ley...

Just thinking about the Nürburgring...



#18 D28

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 15:51

I am sure Mosport in Canada is a much better place now but I remember going to the Canadian GP there in  1977 or '78 and finding it a lonely place in a near wilderness.

 

However I  think it is only 50 miles or so from Toronto so it had a big catchment area..

 

Mind you the first time I landed at Montreal Dorval in the 1970's all I saw below were endless trees. Now it is totally surrounded by the city suburbs so it's hard ,I think ,for well located racetracks to avoid being swallowed up by the very conurbations which can give them a big enough audience - witness OMS and Riverside

Mosport is about 50 miles from Toronto and only 18 miles off one of the busiest highways in Canada. Built on farmland in 1961, for affordable land reasons, it was far from a wilderness. It was accessible enough to attract major crowds, the 64 Players 200 set a a crowd record for a Canadian sporting event. It was built with auto travel in mind, as were other venues like Watkins Glen; there was a large population within 2 or 3 hours drive, and that is what they depended on. Motorsport is what they were promoting, and it was reasonable to assume most spectators owned a car or had access to one. This is not the case today obviously, but most of these circuits were planned 6 or 7  decades ago.


Edited by D28, 22 October 2021 - 15:53.


#19 jtremlett

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 16:03

One word, population. There's not much of that in upstate New York, rural Wisconsin or any other place where there are cracking good road racing tracks. Much easier to convert downtown Detroit or a parking lot in Vegas into an "acceptable" Grand Prix course. Acceptable, that is, for Messrs €ccle$tone and Mo$ley...

It isn't much use if you have a big population who aren't interested.  Watkins Glen used to get good crowds for the Grand Prix.  Charlieman is right.  People will travel much further to a decent venue than they will to a hotel car park or whatever.  Pretty much all visitors to Vegas go for one reason only.  I'm not sure anyone goes to Detroit for fun.  Dallas might have had a chance if someone hadn't run off with the takings.  But none of them were a patch on Watkins Glen.



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#20 BRG

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 16:22

Dallas, Detroit, and Vegas?  And now Austin, Miami and maybe Indy?  None of these are anywhere near the biggest population centres of the US.  the last time F1 raced in or near one of the big cities was Long Beach. So it is all about who is prepared to cough up the fees



#21 F1matt

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 18:48

Didn't Bernie try and take F1 back to Las Vegas and have a street race on the strip? I couldn't imagine the Casino owners would be happy with the disruption with no additional revenue from it. Can we add Phoenix to the list of failed US Grand Prix? 



#22 Michael Ferner

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 19:18

Far be it from me to say anything that might be misconstrued as favourable to Ecclestone and Mosley, but was their avarice the whole story? 

 

No, it is not. It wasn't like Ecclestone and Mosley decided they wanted to have an F1 race in Detroit, it was the businessmen in Detroit developing the idea and approaching E & M, who in turn had no qualms about having an F1 race on a questionable track if it made money (not only for them, personally, I hasten to add - the aim was to bring the money into F1). I'm not sure there ever was a promoter brave enough to try and land an F1 deal for Road America, but I'm sure Ecclestone would've listened. It's just that it was an idea not very likely to succeed, and as such Mr. E. would not have supported it.



#23 aportinga

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 19:37

I am sure Mosport in Canada is a much better place now but I remember going to the Canadian GP there in  1977 or '78 and finding it a lonely place in a near wilderness.

 

 

Makes for great Camping and one of the reasons I enjoy RA providing I can get a site far enough from Spicoli.



#24 D28

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 20:57

I am sure Mosport in Canada is a much better place now but I remember going to the Canadian GP there in  1977 or '78 and finding it a lonely place in a near wilderness.

 

 

It was 1977, last F1  appearance. The estimated attendance was over 60,000 quoted by Gerald Donaldson in The Grand Prix of Canada. 

Not a hard number to be sure, but somewhat removed  from a lonely place. 



#25 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 02:20

Please leave my Road Atlanta alone. It has already been neutered (the modifications leading to T11, The Bridge). Lord knows what it would end up like after F1 got through with it.


Oh, I agree. My comment was simply that it *could* have been made into an F1 venue if done properly. I haven’t been there since the track was butchered, er, reconfigured.

#26 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 03:15

Road America gave some serious thought to having F-1 in the early '90s. However that did not get very far once they began to factor in not only the sanction fee but also the millions required to revamp the track to the standards demanded by Bernie et al. Add to that the hospitality and hotel requirements and the cost became insanely prohibitive. End of serious thought.

 

Tom

The Ryder Cup was just held in nearby Sheboygan, so I would think the local facilities, particularly The American Club, would be adequate and suitable.  That said, ruining Road America to watch a bunch of hideously ugly F-1 cars race there, once a year, for a few years, would not be worth destroying the character of Road America.