Formula One at Indy is dead
Bernie Ecclestone has achieved his goal: he’s killed Formula One in the United States. No doubt, this will free up dates for races he plans in Mid-Eastern countries.
Ecclestone disparaged the efforts made by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to promote the United States Grand Prix, though the debacle that saw only three cars race at the 2006 event – the result of a decision made by Ecclestone’s subordinate running the FIA – was obviously the largest factor in keeping fans from attending the race.
But the boss of Indy, Tony George, is no fool. Having brought NASCAR to IMS and successfully created his own open wheel racing league (a controversial move, but one that preserved the family franchise of the Speedway and the Indy 500 against take-over from Roger Penske and other well-heeled team owners), George is apparently the match for Ecclestone. The Speedway set a deadline for negotiating a renewal of the F1 contract. Ecclestone didn’t meet it.
While George did hold the door open to negotiating a deal later, it’s clear that he is only willing to entertain the Grand Prix on his terms. Ecclestone has reportedly been in discussions with Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas casino tycoon, about holding a race in Vegas in 2008. However, Las Vegas has no track that meets Formula One requirements. Moreover, the last time the United States Grand Prix was held there, attendance was dismal. The town is, perhaps, attracting a more sophisticated clientele currently, but there is no indication that Wynn is eager to put out the money required to create a Formula One facility.