After a nine-year run at Indianapolis, we are once again without a United States Grand Prix. As we all know, the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal this weekend will be Formula One’s closest brush with the USA this year. Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss Tony George is committed to attempting to revive the race at his track but given the uncompromising refusal by the American Automobile Association’s president Robert Darbelnet to do business with the FIA as long as Max Mosley remains at its helm, it’s possible there may be no future at all for Formula 1 in America.
Meanwhile, with the help of Just Marketing, George and the IMS are looking for a title sponsor and a network TV deal to bring F1 back to Indianapolis. Title sponsorship and a strong TV package are essential to helping pay for the race and also to promote and market F1 in the United States. But as the past has proven, these hoped-for sales are an uphill push in a country where F1 is so irrelevant. Let’s not forget that it will be thirty years this August since Mario Andretti scored the last Grand Prix win by an American driver and given the lack of American racers on today’s international scene the chances of that ever happening again seem exceedingly slim.
Still, George wants F1 back at his track and the IMS is the only place in the United States that can afford to pay for an F1 race. Equally important is George’s desire to establish the Speedway over the next few years as the unchallenged ‘world centre of racing’ with four major races – the Indy 500, Brickyard 400 NASCAR race and MotoGP and F1 Grand Prix races. MotoGP comes to Indianapolis for the first time this September and George wants to bring F1 back in the next few years to add panache to the IMS’s 100th birthday.
Next year is the hundredth anniversary of the Speedway’s opening in 1909. The hundredth anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 takes place two years later in 2011 and the celebrations will extend through 2016 when the 100th running of the 500 takes place.
So while it may not be the ideal venue aesthetically to either drivers or fans the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the only likely and future home of the United States Grand Prix. In the end, of course, it will all depend on Max Mosley and the FIA’s ability to do business in America.