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F1 in The New Yorker

The New York media are renowned for their lack of interest, if not outright disdain for motor sport. NASCAR is covered sporadically at best by New York’s newspapers and a Formula 1 race is lucky to get anything more than a few lines of coverage. Sebastien Vettel’s successful World Championship defence was reported in exactly that manner by The New York Times last November. It seemed that F1’s successful debut in Austin the week before had done little to wake up New York’s media barons to F1’s rebirth in America.

So it was a breakthrough for the sport last week when The New Yorker published a first-rate, 12 page story about F1. Titled ‘The Art of Speed – Bringing Formula 1 to America’, the story does a good job of portraying the money-saturated world of modern F1, but its focus is on Adrian Newey’s genius for racing car design.

f1  F1 in The New Yorker

Written by Ben McGrath, a New Yorker staff writer, it’s a story any racing fan will enjoy reading – and may learn something too – but it’s also a perfect primer on F1 today and the driving forces behind the sport. The odd, occasional references to NASCAR that appear in The New Yorker invariably are in the pejorative but McGrath’s story casts F1 in a fascinating, complimentary light. It’s the most comprehensive story about motor racing I’ve read in many years in any New York media and should do the F1 team owners, marketing men and sponsor salesmen like Zak Brown a power of good as they hawk the sport in Manhattan.

More important to the likes of you and I, it’s refreshing to read an intelligent, well-written piece about motor racing in a renowned magazine without any connections to the sport. McGrath opens his story with the well-known tale of Newey’s way of working. ‘The most accomplished man in the world’s most glamorous sport stands at a drafting table all day,’ McGrath writes. ‘Using a No. 2B pencil and right-angle ruler, he produces as many as three hundred drawings each week.’

He goes on to tell the story of Newey’s education and rise through the sport with warmth and erudition. At the same time, he educates the reader about F1’s modern technical complexity. McGrath even does an excellent job of explaining DRS and goes on to talk to our own editor in chief Nigel Roebuck who subsequently was asked to do some fact-checking for McGrath’s faultless story.

f1  F1 in The New Yorker

McGrath also visits Bernie Ecclestone, sharply portraying Ecclestone, his family and his role in Formula 1. It’s a no-holds-barred piece filled with facts and a little irreverance too. McGrath ends up in Austin for the return of F1 to America last November but the meat of his story is with Newey and the title of the piece, ‘The Art of Speed’.

McGrath’s story is in the February 4 issue of The New Yorker. Give it a read.

f1  F1 in The New Yorker

Add your comments

5 comments on F1 in The New Yorker

  1. Bob G, 4 February 2013 15:55

    Excellent. Thanks for the heads-up Gordon. Thanks also to Ben and The New Yorker. Part of the piece is on-line as well. New Yorker subscribers can read it all:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/02/04/130204fa_fact_mcgrath

  2. Ray T, 4 February 2013 20:25

    The New Yorker has clued in that the horse racing and yacht racing crowd overlaps with F1 (personified by Newey) . They are careful to distinguish F1 from NASCAR, and will hopefully continue to ignore NASCAR.

  3. Stephen Loffredo, 5 February 2013 02:30

    Thanks for the heads up. As a yank and someone that lives in The Big Apple I would have never noticed the story because The New Yorker would have been the last place I would have looked for an F1 story. I look forward to reading the article.

    As someone that has followed F1 since I was a young teenager in the mid-seventies I only really enjoyed the coverage F1 deserved (and developed a better understanding) when I discovered Autosport in a specialty magazine shop back then, though the issue was three weeks old I was heaven compared to what I was reading in the US at the time. In many ways things are still the same. Mainstream coverage is poor at best, and those doing the writing lack depth and understanding of the sport, its culture and history. Now with F1 coverage going to NBC the jury will still be out until the season is underway. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    If F1 is to enjoy long term success in America coverage by major media sources has to happen. Otherwise – F1 won’t expand its base. Those of us that read wonderful magazines like Motorsport and are passionate, informed minority. Hopefully Ron Howard’s movie on Lauda and Hunt will help spread the word.

    Thanks for a first class publication and keep up the wonderful work, especially Nigel who’s journalisim and knowladge is second to none.

  4. Paul Walsh, 5 February 2013 19:55

    Who cares what those idiot pseuds think? Now on to the latest contrived fad….

  5. frank butcher, 6 February 2013 01:19

    Odd little hate-filled comment to make, Ray T. I’m glad you’re so concerned about protecting the horse racing crowd from those beastly stock car drivers. Most auto racing fans find something to enjoy in all kinds of racing, as evidenced by Kirby’s coverage here in Motor Sport. Then there’s you….

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Gordon Kirby

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