F1 in New Jersey: A load of baloney?

The answer is 42 Hot Dogs and Trash

GP of AmericaTJ13 heard just over a week ago that the New Jersey race that was to be…. but is not yet… would become a prominent matter in the F1 media over the coming week or so.

So we did a bit of a video feature on the state of play in NJ last Thursday (click here)… well worth the read. Bernie has been up to his old tricks of talking up a possible competitor to galvanise a new race promoter into fervent action.

So Long Beach 2015 appeared suddenly from nowhere as a possible F1 opportunity whilst the New Jersey promoters dithered. Or did it really? There cannot be an F1 race and an Indycar race in Long Beach and at present the promoters of the second most important Indycar race of the season are not interested in discussing F1 with Bernie or even his uncle Tom Cobbly.

Impressively the stalking horses arrayed for this Long Beach beauty parade did indeed have fine pedigree. The founders of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach in the 1970’s, Chris Pook and Zak Brown, were lined up by Bernie to reclaim their birthright and bring F1 back to California.

Since those heady F1 days, Pook went on to develop other races around the country including Detroit, Las Vegas, Dallas, St. Louis, Denver and St. Petersburg, Fla. He is the former CEO of the Championship Auto Racing Teams series in the U.S. and a former member of the board of Dover Motorsports, Inc.

Wowser – what a pedigree (as they say in the US of A).

Yet this proposition for New Jersey, a street race requiring immense initial capital investment and enormous annual setup costs, is not a genuine runner. Certain knowledgeable F1 observers believe that in a matter of years both Long Beach and New Jersey will be up and running as F1 events.

This in turn will apparently offer the US TV market what they’ve always craved – unprecedented F1 packages in the right time zone.

The F1 race in New Jersey is estimated to bring $100m of economic benefit to New York and New Jersey each year, according to FOM. Maybe the Empire State Building and all the other attractions in the ‘Big Apple’ are losing their appeal and F1 is the answer to an imminent tourism collapse in arguably the world’s most iconic city.

New Jersey have stated and restated that not one penny of public money will go to fund the race. If this is so then it has been calculated that the promoters need to sell about 100 hundred hot dogs per visitor plus entrance fees and a few beers to just break even.

Even one of the most disliked billionaires in the US, red neck… Red McCombs managed to scrounge $30m out of the state of Texas financial controller for the COTA project. This meant hot dog sales were a far more modest and achievable part of his business plan

The fact that this opportunity for New Jersey is based on the current F1 race promoter funding model means that this proposition is clearly an exercise in speculative delusion. The only F1 races in the world that receive no public financial support are Silverstone and Monza.

No investors in real estate have as yet shown the slightest interest in buying into the F1 dream on the strip of New Jersey land offered for F1 development. The problem is that with its best foot forward, this location at best offers the greatest views across the Hudson of what most visitors would see as New York proper – Manhattan.

This unsurprisingly drives the mind to consider, ‘what could have been if we were racing over there?’

So with no public money and no private dollars on the table, New Jersey is dead in the metaphorical water.

But wait!!! Tonight the strings behind the throne are being pulled. Ecclestone is once again weaving his magic.

The Grand Prix Association of America have announced tonight that following the departure of several of their senior staff (marketing director, chief exec, finance officer), the tide has been stemmed. Chris Pook has now been appointed to run the New Jersey F1 project.

I hear you say… ‘but Bernie, he is your friend – and you have been tasked to bring back the nostalgia of F1 racing in Long Beach’.

Listen peeps… that was last week’s plan. Now we’re trying another play. Pook has been named, ‘special assistant to the Chairman’ with responsibilities to  “provide consultation with respect to all aspects of construction, planning and execution of the Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial race.”

In a completely uncoordinated opportunity for comment, Ecclestone says, “I am happy to be working with Chris again after some 20 years. Chris has a history of great success in Formula One, which I’m confident he’ll bring to the Grand Prix of America race. We look forward to working with him to bring F1 racing to New Jersey and New York.”

In F1, the precursor to being considered  as a race promoter is that you must have oodles of cash – or if not you need access to people who do. Anyway, NJ race promoter, Leo Hindery who is the Managing Partner of an equity investment fund called Media Partners, appears so far to have raised not a bean.

Leo is for now however delighted at Bernie parachuting in his long standing friend Mr. Chris Spook. “The F1 Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial just gained another invaluable team member who will ensure the race will be like nothing the region has ever witnessed. Chris is a leader with decades of experience in American motorsports. We are delighted to add someone with his accomplishments and level of expertise to the Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial team.”

Leo – we hear you. Chris will be wonderful, amazing and even spectacular. But…. do you mind us asking… where is the cash?

The rats have left the sinking ship and in comes the man who created the iconic Long Beach California to win the day (spin). He will deliver where others could not (more spin). That will save Leo from losing his shirt on F1 – and indeed his clients silk shirts too – as Pook will now mysteriously produce $100m of investment and F1 will go racing in New Jersey in 12 months time (delirious spinning).

Yet wait… a saviour is nigh!

TJ13 hears that there is indeed a very serious investor for the NJ F1 project. Local NJ legend and Mafia boss, Tony Soprano, has offered to fund Bernie’s brown envelope fee in return for ‘the family’ getting the refuse removal contract.

So as suggested already, each F1 fan attending the New Jersey extravaganza will be force-fed (and charged for) 100 hot dogs per each. That’s a lot of trash to collect…. Tony’s smart. He knows this.

Unless big (and I use that term unreservedly – nay with gay abandon) Chris, the New Jersey Governor/Wannabe President of the US of A, splashes some tax payers dollars, F1 in New Jersey is as realistic as….. (TJ13 readers fill in the blank please).

..I feel dizzy from all this spinning….Miss Zargosa, medicine please…..

Drivers Press conference

It was dull, I wasted too much of my life watching it – to be bothered writing about it. If we can get a video today, we’l post it.

Remember you only get one or maybe two questions of the drivers – so here’s mine.

TJ13 to Sergio: Now you and Jenson have had a ‘love in’ clear the air chat following Bahrain. If you were to find yourself on fresher rubber and immediately behind Jenson – where on the circuit do you see the overtaking opportunity?

TJ13 to Fernando: Luca de Montezemolo has announced he will be in attendance in Barcelona this weekend. It is a statistical fact that Ferrari performances when Luca is in town are below average so what would be your message to him?

TJ13 to Esteban G: Do you think you can have a race without crashing into anyone else?

TJ13 to Vettel: Now you have assumed the role of Red Bull team principal, do you see this as a 2,3 or 4 stop race and what rules will you set to decide whether you or Mark get first pit stop preference?

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9 responses to “F1 in New Jersey: A load of baloney?

  1. “This in turn will apparently offer the US TV market what they’ve always craved – unprecedented F1 packages in the right time zone.”

    Here the ratings numbers for the 2012 and 2013 Australian GP

    2012 (Speed): 314k live viewers, 204k on replay = 518k total viewers

    2013 (NBCSN): 124k live viewers, 138k on replay = 262k total viewers

    The only word that can be used to describe NBCSN F1rating is pathetic. Even if the ratings were a lot higher for US races there would still be 16 races (Canada is in the same time zone as the US) outside the US that would get at most a couple of thousand viewers. Hardly worth the investment for BCSN.

    • CR – Indeed you are correct.

      Case closed! And the plaintiff’s will be held in contempt for wasting the courts time on such fantastical matters.

      • I meant a couple of hundred thousand viewers. I’d bet you could get more viewers with 60 year old reruns of I Love Lucy.

        • CR – We have proportionately more here in the courtroom – and we’ve only just begun.

          I know it’s a silly idea… but try running NASCAR and F1 in Austin on the same day.

          If F1 had a proper commercial rights owner interested in development of the sport – there is an amount of cash that could make this kind of thing happen

          It will take something utterly monumental to crack the US market…..

          • “I know it’s a silly idea… but try running NASCAR and F1 in Austin on the same day.”

            Noone will ever know how silly it is, unless they try. Maybe they should have a trial run with Rugby and American Football, or Cricket and Baseball on the same day.

  2. A 7th season for The Sopranos – brilliant.
    Does this mean a new interpretation of that final scene?

  3. Instead of sinking all this cash into NJ, they should take half as much and bring Elkhart Lake up to Bernie standards. That’s a proper race track !

  4. Pingback: Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 24 August | thejudge13·

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