Second US GP destined for New Jersey?

The official town map of Weehawken - half the track will be here...New Jersey has once again emerged as a potential host for a second US GP, which would run in addition to the Austin event.

The mayors of two neighbouring New Jersey towns have expressed an interest in holding a race as early as 2013 – and insist that it will be a source of profit, and that no tax dollars will be spent. A group of investors led by Le Mans racer Leo Hindery Jr are behind the project.

The street track would be close to the Hudson River and will have New York City as a back drop.

Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and West New York Mayor Felix Roque said in a joint statement:  “In these uncertain economic times when every direct and indirect revenue source is vital, our own Formula One race could be a very positive boost to our citizens. This said, we need to ensure that the financial benefits from the privilege of having these races in our towns are equitably shared and that no tax dollars are used.

“The investor group has already told us that our towns would be substantially compensated annually. If this advances, we will make every effort to ensure that these events will be highly enjoyable for the people of our towns.”

Once the home of Fred Astaire, Weehawken has a population of just 12,000, while West New York has 49,000 residents. Clearly they are not big enough to provide any public funding and would be open to suggestions of ways to generate more income – not to mention some PR.

According to the WSJ a spokesman for New Jersey governor  Chris Christie said: “The prospect of having Formula One come to New Jersey is exciting.”

The 63-year-old Hindery was the founder and former CEO of the The YES Network, a sports cable channel that is the TV home of the New York Yankees and several major sports teams. He has won Emmy awards as an executive producer, and written books about management.

He is now managing partner with New York’s InterMedia Partners, a private equity fund with investments in a range of cable channels, including Universal Sports and Soul Train. He is also active in Democratic politics, and is an advisor to Barack Obama.

Hindery competed at Le Mans between 2002 and 2005, and was a regular in the ALMS series.

It remains to be seen whether his group can fund the sanctioning fee and the creation of the venue, although a street race will be a lot cheaper than building a permanent venue from nothing.

Although the calendar looks pretty packed for the forseeable future – Turkey has been dropped for 2012 – a New Jersey race would form a perfect double header package with Montreal, now that Austin has been moved to November.

In recent times attempts to bring a GP to Jersey City and to the Monticello track in NY State have both failed. In the former case it was the local mayor who raised objections.

Weehawken itself may be small - but this is the view across the Hudson...

21 Comments

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21 responses to “Second US GP destined for New Jersey?

  1. A second US GP is fine as long as its one of the terrible circuits like Valencia or Bahrain that get the chop

  2. D

    A proposed GP with no track and no money to pay for one, never mind Bernies fees.

    Smells like someones stalling on signing their new contract & Bernie is throwing around the stories of interest from other parties – again.

  3. I think this would be great for NJ, and NY which would only benefit as most Int’l flights fly into JFK and people will have to travel through NYC to get to NJ. Weehawken is fantastic because it is accessible from NJ via Rt. 495/I 95/NJ Turnpike, as well as Train from NYC via PATH and Light Rail, and Ferry direct from Manhattan. It really is the perfect geographical location for a race. Traffic shouldn’t play a huge part for NJ residents and those coming from the west as there is only Light traffic into NYC on weekends. Weehawken is home for the NYC branch of UBS, so a race sponsor shouldn’t be hard to get.

    Now onto the drawbacks. The road surfaces in Weehawken are not F1 material by any stretch of the imagination. The streets would need to be resurfaced, and given the current political climate in the state, no State money would be allowed to be used. The governor recently canceled a huge public work project called the Ark (a new rail tunnel into NYC from NJ) tunnel which was feared to be going over budget. Christie cancelled that project in some controversy as the state lost millions it had to repay to the federal government. Bottom line, expect Christie to support the race publically, but not want to give any State money to help it get off the ground.

    So far as venue goes, the further inland you go from the Hudson the harder it will be to plan it, so expect the waterline to be the largest contender. The largest problem to be expected are the residents of the two towns who are mostly commuters into NYC. I doubt that they will support a race, but it will be interesting to see.

  4. Why not just bring Watkins Glen up to Bernie spec?

  5. Steve C

    Sounds a little if(y) I think. The track here in Austin is going along just fine and while I would like to see another race in America, I’d rather make sure this one makes it first. The Global economy isn’t as rosey as it once was.

    • Good point, but it’s a big old country and there are a lot of people on the East Coast who might go to this and not to Austin

      • Steve C

        I guess I’m being a little selfish and want everyone to come down here to Austin. I know with MotoGP and V8 Supercars coming our way that the track itself will be succesful.

      • Don’t worry Steve, we’ll be there! Normally try to go home to Australia for the GP but next year planning on bringing some friends from NY to introduce them to our sport.

        Also hoping to come for the V8s in 2013

  6. Being an F1 hungry resident of NYC I’d love to see this happen but until something substaintial happens I’d just put this down to typical NJ BS politics. I don’t think they have the slightest idea what F1 is, how much it costs and the kind of infrastructure investments they’d have to make.

    That said the area being talked about has seen some recent development with a series of new park and public sporting facilities having just been completed. It also has one of the best views of the skyline.

    But an F1 race seems a bit far fetched and beyond their capabilities and finances.

    • I agree, they likely have no idea that the normal fee for a track is $30 mil, that the pits cost millions of dollars and how safe the track must be. Its not likely that they would make any money out of this. Maybe they just got confused and meant to say IndyCar race?

  7. Ash

    If they race up and down the cliffs by the Hudson there it could be a dynamite race. Bit like an urban Bathurst, almost — big hills and F1 machinery, with commuter bungalows on the other side of the Armco.

  8. Just had a chance to look at the proposed track map from the WSJ article. Curious how they expect to get the cars down the cliff face from JFK Blvd to the waterfront. Then once they’re at the waterfront they would have to race through a residential neighborhood’s only access road.

    Here’s a look at the cliff the cars would have to come down and the footbridge I guess they’d use to get to the waterfront:

    http://goo.gl/kRrht

    Then here’s the residential neighborhood. Note the lack of access roads for residents and the fire department:

    http://goo.gl/CPOrM

  9. Joe

    Hi Adam,
    I thought you might like this

    The history of auto racing in NJ

    http://www.njrn.com/njhistory.html

    Joe

  10. This subject is like ….that with volkswagen will come in formula 1

  11. Geoff Raymond

    I’ve never been to Monaco, but I’ve been to Weehawken many times. This feels like zero probability to me.

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