Monday, March 31, 2014

Formula One to return to Long Beach?

Recently there has been talk about Formula One possibly returning to Long Beach. The founder of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Chris Pook, is working to get F1 to the streets of Long Beach. According to him, F1 wants to have three races in the United States by 2016, the already existing race in Austin, Texas, and races on both the East and the West Coasts.

I think Long Beach would be a great location for an F1 race. The Grand Prix of Long Beach is the most famous street race in the USA. That's why a race in Long Beach could bring a lot of attention to F1 in the States and help it to become more popular there. I think it would be even more important for F1 to have a race in Long Beach if the planned West Coast race in New Jersey fails. The planned New Jersey race with Manhattan as the backdrop could have brought huge attention to F1 in the USA; there are no other races as close to the New York City. Unfortunately that project is already at least two years late, and it happening seems more and more unlikely as time goes by. To me, it feels like Long Beach would be the only other race in the States which could give F1 as much attention as that New Jersey race.

Long Beach hosted F1 already in the late 70s and early 80s before they replaced it with the less expensive and domestically more popular CART series nowadays known as the IndyCar Series. But why would Long Beach now want F1 back? Hosting F1 is much more expensive than IndyCar, and an F1 race would require improved facilities. But F1 would bring more exposure to the event. F1 draws an international crowd whereas IndyCar isn't followed that much outside the USA. The ticket prices would explode if IndyCar were replaced by F1, and many local fans would be unable to attend the race. But even though F1 isn't so popular in the States, an F1 race could have fans from all over the country. F1 races in the USA are rare events compared to IndyCar races; 16 of the 18 IndyCar races take place in the States. And an F1 race gets more spectators from abroad than an IndyCar race.

But can Long Beach afford an F1 race? I believe they can. The US Grand Prix has drawn big crowds in the two years it has been held in Austin. The USA is a big country, and even though F1 isn't the most popular motorsports category in the States, there are still lots of people interested in F1. I believe the USA could have two or even three F1 races with large enough crowds. But another thing is if hosting an F1 race is more profitable than hosting an IndyCar race. The IndyCar race draws big crowds in Long Beach and is much less expensive than an F1 race. Then again, the revenues from an IndyCar race are probably smaller than from an F1 race.

A race in Long Beach would be important for F1 in the States but a race in Long Beach is maybe even more important for the IndyCar Series. Long Beach is the most important street race in the USA and adds prestige to the IndyCar Series. Losing Long Beach from the schedule would take attention away from the series and be a sign of the series being in a bad state; another series has the most famous street race in IndyCar's home market. That's why, for the sake of the state of IndyCar, I hope F1 doesn't return to Long Beach but it remains as an IndyCar race. For F1, I hope the race in New Jersey will happen. I believe it could bring a lot of attention to F1 in the USA and help to increase its popularity there. And I think two races in the USA would be enough at the moment. There are so many countries hosting Grands Prix that I think even two is a lot for one country. F1 could increase its popularity in the States also by having more races in the same time zones. Besides the existing US, Canadian, and Brazilian Grands Prix, have another Grand Prix in the USA and Grands Prix is Mexico and Argentina. That would mean six races in the American time zones.

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