F1 Gives Indianapolis the Red Flag
The famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway will not resound to the screeching of Bridgestone Formula One tyres in 2008 following the decision to scrap the event after eight lukewarm years. Bernie Ecclestone’s verdict on the race was announced on July 12, a decision that the speedway’s CEO hopes will be a temporary one.
“It’s my sincere hope that we’ll have the opportunity to bring it back in the not-too-distant future,” said speedway CEO Tony George. “Eight years ago, it was our intent to host this event on an annual basis. While I still hold hope for the future that we’ll be able to bring it back, its tough to have a hiatus like this, and I view it as such. I’m going to continue to work on this to try to bring it back to the best of my ability as soon as possible.”
The US Grand Prix on average attracted around 125,000 spectators, which while respectable in terms of F1 attendance was smaller than any other event held at the speedway. In comparison, attendance at the Indianapolis 500 has been estimated at around 300,000 people. George believes the US Grand Prix could have drawn larger crowds had it been given the opportunity to better establish itself through sponsorship and the media.
“One of the challenges of creating new fans is creating more awareness of Formula One with a consistent, national broadcast exposure….I think Speed [the Speed Channel] has always done a great job, and we’ve had network coverage from year to year. But when you consider Formula One on the whole as a world championship, then you want consistent coverage just like any sport wants. Some of those things – having a title sponsor for a while with SAP and losing that – was a factor. And I think it’s important in the future that if we have it, it comes back with a committed title sponsor as part of that.
“In the United States, Formula One is not perceived the same way it is around the world, in central Europe, eastern Europe and Asia, and its just a tough dynamic.” He added. “But I think the future will depend on recognising the fact that the United States is a bit different, and we’re going to have to figure out how to make it work.”