Monticello eyes US GP for New York State

Rural Monticello is said to be 90 minutes from Manhattan...

The Monticello Circuit in New York State, described as a ‘country club’ for wealthy car enthusiasts, is the latest venue to emerge as a possible future host of the US GP.

My colleagues at Autoweek magazine obtained a copy of a letter sent by Ari Strauss, the boss of Monticello Motor Club, to his members.  It explains the thinking behind a possible deal, following recent dialogue with Bernie Ecclestone, and says that help has been sought from local and state authorities.

Opened in the summer of 2008 with a display by Mario Andretti in a Lotus 79, the 4.1-mile track was co-designed by Brian Redman. Apparently it has already been visited by Hermann Tilke, whose role was to pinpoint what might need upgrading for F1.

The rural setting of Monticello at the foot of the Catskill Mountains doesn’t really fit with what Ecclestone has been looking for, as it’s no secret that he wants a race in or around an major city. However the venue is said to be 90 minutes from Manhattan by road, and as such is the closest track to the city. The fact that it’s also a 25-minute helicopter ride will be of interest, at least to VIPs…

Club members pay $125,000 to join, plus an annual fee. The membership list include Jeff Gordon, Jerry Seinfield and some of NYC’s wealthiest inhabitants.

 The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear member,

Within the next day, you may read that Formula One is planning a return to the United States and has their sights on a special location in New York: Monticello Motor Club.

A few months ago, [MMC chairman] Bill McMichael and I met with Bernie Ecclestone, President/CEO of Formula One Management (FOM), and discussed the terms for an exclusive 10-year United States Grand Prix to be hosted at MMC. Shortly thereafter, Hermann Tilke, the chief engineer and circuit designer for F1, spent time at MMC and confirmed that our track and surrounding properties, with some expansion and minor track modifications, is an excellent location for a Grand Prix. Since receiving a letter of understanding from FOM confirming their hope to bring the U.S. Grand Prix to Monticello, Bill and I have continued to secure the backing and support of local, state, and federal politicians and organizations.

If F1 comes to Monticello, our intent is to preserve MMC as, first and foremost, a private country club. Obviously, demand will accelerate as well as the initiation fee for new members. But securing F1 is like winning the Olympics, competition is fierce, and this is not a done deal. While the prospect of F1 at MMC is exciting, we remain focused on our core business: the club and its members.

At this juncture, we are simply honored that F1 is considering our venue as the future, exclusive home for the U.S. Grand Prix. It would transform the region into one of the motorsports capitals of the world, bring thousands of jobs to Sullivan County, inject over $100M each year into the local economy, and place your private club in the company of famous racing circuits like Monza and Spa.

Warmest regards, Ari


The track has a variety of layouts but will need some work to adapt to F1 standards


Filed under Uncategorized

21 responses to “Monticello eyes US GP for New York State

  1. and they say Formula 1 is elitist!!

    What is wrong with Laguna Seca? am I the only one in the world who wants to see Formula 1 cars going through the corckscrew?!!

    • I agree, a great place for an F1 race! But Bernie’s $$$ requirements are the killer I imagine…

    • Leigh O'Gorman

      In all fairness RantsonF1, would Laguna come even close to passing F1’s current safety and corporate demands and necessities?
      I could especially imagine the corkscrew chicane being one of the major issues for the circuit.

      Also, having being an Indycar fan (regardless of its split), Laguna always seemed like a wonderfully tough track and looked hard for the drivers, but it was also a track that didn’t have much in the way of passing either.
      An F1 race there would be a Hungary-style waiting to happen.

    • Martin Collyer

      Sadly I’ve not been to Laguna Seca, but it’s on the list. World Superbikes and MotoGP looked great on the TV, it would be a crying shame to wreck the place for the sake of F1 and that would be my big fear.

    • Janet Laker

      Yes but!!! I don’t want to see Laguna Seca spoiled by F1! It might be too dangerous!!!!! So goodness knows what they would do with it to make it F1 friendly. Heaven forbid!

  2. AlexP

    Formula 1 will destroy this cozy little piece of paradise for (wealthy) car enthusiasts.
    They will need new pits, grandstands, parking lots, a larger paddock, larger run-off areas, etc, etc.
    It is beautiful as it is. If I were a club member, I would not want F1 to come to this track.

    • That’s a very interesting viewpoint. It’s a question really of whether the members think it’ll be great to have F1 come and visit and raise the profile of the place. After all they are car freaks and F1 is the ultimate. In many cases they are corporate guys who might want to entertain their friends and clients, so who knows?

      • Janet Laker

        Corporate guys who want to entertain their clients are not real race fans, are they?

  3. Nathan

    Presumably the “minor track modifications” will entail a few chicanes, half a mile of tarmac run-off in every direction and removal of half the trees?

    It looks like quite a nice setting for an F1 race if they don’t bulldoze it all. But whether the track itself is suited for F1 is hard to say, I’ve never seen it before.

    Goodness knows F1 needs a race in the USA and if this place can keep it’s rural vibe I’d be far happier to see F1 go somewhere like here rather than the dusty construction site of Valencia.

    Completely agreed about Laguna Seca – that would be fantastic!

  4. paxdog57

    Ferrari and Mercedes would see it as a perfect place to showcase the motorsport/roadcar connections. Plus the North American Ferrari Challenge would be a natural here. With McLaren ready to enter the fray of the exotic sportcars sales, this circuit would be a great intro to the clientale they seek.

    Lastly, does the Monticello crowd mix Red Bull chasers with their Dom Perignon ?

    • Very good point on the supercar thing!

      • paxdog57

        Can one speculate that VW thru Audi/Lambo?Bentley also maybe interested in the event and get into F1 as a team? Or will they still want to be only an engine provider and will this lead in the future to turbo diesels (like the awesome LeMans winners they produced). Anyways, as a North American, I am overjoyed that Montreal GP is back and a USGP is being actively pursued.

  5. fakeberniee

    It opens interesting perspectives. As you already pointed out it’s only about the $$$. But 50,000 people paying $200 each amounts to the same as 200 blokes paying $50,000 per head. Plenty of those in NYC. You’d throw in the helicopter service for free. It’d also solve the problem of mucking the place up with too many grandstands and greasy food joints.

    • If the heli works – presumably a double header in Montreal in June weather will be OK – it could work out just fine for the VIPs. We wait to see what the deal is for the paying fan, but I guess you can compare it with top golf tournaments at exclusive clubs. They will let spectators in, for a price.

  6. jimfectious

    Wow, F1 in the Borscht Belt! This area was a big vacation destination area in the 1940s-60s especially for Jewish families getting out of the city during the summer.

    People in the area are constantly looking for economic development projects (casinos, etc) since it has become less of a preferred vacation destination and politicians there have generally been willing to fund them in the past.

    There aren’t too many high end places to stay in the area, so Bernie may have to stay in a bungalow colony which were very popular there.

  7. Phillip

    Works for me….I just want to see F1 back in the U.S.

  8. jim

    It’s IMS, a street race, or nothing.
    All governments are broke right now, and this place would need track changes, paddock, pit garages, grand stands, infrastructure to handle the traffic… There’s no way in hell it’s happening.
    Wouldn’t surprize me one bit if this is nixed as fast as the liberty park plan was.
    The folks at IMS must be holding out to make a profit…

  9. mt

    Hey, I’d love to see a USGP but:
    Snowballs chance in Hell! The greenie weenies would go ballistic. Then the $$$ for the roads, water, sewage etc? From taxpayers in this economic climate?

  10. Black Knight

    Get a grip. This is a club track in the middle of the woods. No F1 level garage or press facilities, armco barriers everywhere, no hotels to speak of for miles, no substantial access roads for 100,000 +. Makes Watkins Glenn look like Abu Dabi. Tike should be able to bring it up to speed for about $40m – then Bernie will want his $15m annually.
    Indy couldn’t make it work, but a club track with no facilities will ?? No problem.

  11. Steve Clark

    Looks like a brilliant piece of PR on the the part of the club owners. I expect they’ve sold quite a few memberships over the last few days. If I had the cash and a Porsche GT3 I’d be visiting on a regular basis even if it’s a 10 hour drive from here.

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