Bernie Ecclestone has announced the return of the US F1 Grand Prix – at a purpose-built track in Austin, Texas.
The Americans have never really fallen in love with Formula One in the way the rest of the world – and particularly the Europeans – have. They have plenty of race series of their own, many arguably more exciting. Which you would think would be a good enough reason not to worry too much about the lack of a US Grand Prix on the calendar since the last one in Indianapolis in 2007.
But F1 isn’t really about the local audience. It’s about the global audience. It’s also about Americans being more likely to respond to F1 sponsors’ products if those adverts are emblazoned on people and cars that tread soil in the US of A. Somewhere between parochial and xenophobic probably explains it.
So despite the fact that he’s about to enter his ninth decade, Bernie Ecclestone has been busy brokering a deal to take the F1 Circus back to the US, and we now learn that the US F1 Grand Prix will return from 2012 in – of all places – Austin, Texas in a purpose-built facility.
The deal is with a company called Full Throttle Productions and the location is Austin. But that’s all we have. No doubt the finer points are being thrashed out as we write, but they’ll have to get a shake on if they’re going to be ready for the first race scheduled for 2012.
Interestingly – with the exception of Indianapolis which was on an oval circuit – the US Grand Prix has only ever been run on street circuits – Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Long Beach and Phoenix – and this new track will be the first proper, purpose-built F1 circuit in the USA.
Khalid Abdul Rahim’s Cebarco managed to build the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in well under two years (they also did the Bahrain Circuit in a similar timeframe). Of course, they built the track surface from Graywacke Aggregate (supplied by Bayston Hill Quarry in Shropshire – the best there is for F1 tracks), and it’s stunning. And Khalid learnt his skills in the UK. And he’s a car nut.
Let’s see what the Yanks can do. Perhaps Full Throttle Productions could do a lot worse than give Khalid a call.