If the potholed pavement of northern New Jersey seems an unlikely fit for a Formula 1 circuit that includes such exotic locales as Monte Carlo, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur, you don't know Bernie Ecclestone. The British billionaire in control of the world's most popular form of auto racing has long coveted a race in the shadow of the New York City skyline—and now he's got it.
Starting in June 2013, the Grand Prix of America will run along the Hudson River waterfront through the New Jersey towns of West New York and Weehawken. Existing public streets (fully repaved!) will make up the 3.2-mile course, which will run from the Port Imperial ferry terminal, up 150 feet along the New Jersey Palisades and back down to the river—an elevation change and waterside setting that have drawn comparisons to the iconic Monaco Grand Prix.
Organizers have pledged that unlike an F1 event set to debut in Austin next year that's relying on a state-funded $25 million-a-year subsidy, the New Jersey event will not use a single taxpayer dollar. "Every expense ... will be covered by the promoters," said Leo Hindery, a founding chairman and former CEO of the YES Network, who's the lead promoter.
This isn't the first time the glamorous racing series has made a play for the American market. The United States Grand Prix was held in Watkins Glen, N.Y., from 1961 until '80, but subsequent efforts at several sites failed to gain widespread appeal, and F1 left the U.S. for good in 2007.
Reaction to the Oct. 25 announcement was favorable throughout a sport that claims more than a billion fans and bills itself as the No. 1 sport worldwide in revenue per event. But whether it can make an impact on U.S. fans—and meet the organizers' three-day attendance projections of 100,000—remains to be seen.
LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS (HINDERY)
WHAT EXIT? Race promoter Hindery (inset) hopes to bring the Grand Prix glamour of Monaco (above) to the streets of Weehawken.
ANTONIO CALANNI/AP (CAR)
[See caption above]