Following months of speculation, the new Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial was announced Tuesday morning as the second U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix from June 2013.
City and race officials including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, mayors of Weehawken, N.J. and West New York, Richard Turner and Felix Roque, along with YES Network founder Leo Hindery Jr. and former Charlotte Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler (Hindery Jr.'s father in law) were on hand to reveal the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to host the event for 10 years. The race will run on a 3.2-mile street course with the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson River as a backdrop.
No public funding will be required for the event, although the source of funding was not revealed. Prior reports have indicated Hindery as the leader of a group of investors.
Officials anticipate more than 100,000 spectators will attend the event. Hindery said every fan will have a seat, and expects the average price of a three-day ticket to be $360. Public transit via NJ Transit and PATH will be available to get to the race.
Discussions between Christie and city and race officials took place over the last several months. Christie said he has quickly learned about F1 and become an instant fan.
“When I met Leo, I became an enormous F1 fan,” he said. “We've had conversations over the last number of months to reach this agreement. It becomes a regular event. People will be used to coming back to this event. This event will get used to the cycle of it coming. It's gonna be a good thing for this area. You don't know what kind of business ideas will sprout up. There's a certain synergy it brings.”
A key request from both mayors was that promoters would cover all costs.
“One of the conditions Mayor Roque and I had, was that every expense, public safety, cleanup, would be covered by the promoters,” Turner said. “We also have an agreement that there are a lot of part-time positions for 2-3 weeks. As many as possible will go to local residents. The governor's office said from the beginning, the two towns would have to sign off on it. We're 100 percent sure it won't cost taxpayers anything.”
Additionally, all officials involved with the project said this will come with minimal disruption to local residents. For a temporary circuit, all that will be required to be brought in are the barriers, fencing, and grandstands to erect.
As with all temporary F1 circuits, garages are still built as permanent structures, and this circuit will be no different, Hindery said. He acknowledged this was the only possible location for a grand prix in the area, to fulfill a long-desired dream held by Bernie Ecclestone.
“It won't work anywhere else in this area,” Hindery explained. “Lester Delano – who works with Peter Wall and colleagues of (F1 circuit designer Hermann) Tilke took the vision of Ecclestone, which we advanced.”
The circuit has a wide range of elevation change, about 150ft throughout the circuit. SPEED Formula 1 analyst Steve Matchett said the cars should still top out nearing 200mph on the longest straight leading into the final chicane complex before the pit lane.
“It's an absolutely staggering layout,” he said. “F1 looks for tremendous backdrops. Singapore has been an example as the night race. The backdrop looks absolutely spectacular. The cityscape of Manhattan, the whole world will recognize instantly.”
The date has not been established, but should follow either the weekend before or after the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix as a two-for-one trip to North America.
Assuming it happens, this race would join the new event at Austin – slated for a November 2012 debut – as the second U.S. round of the World Championship. That hasn't occurred since 1984, when Detroit and Dallas (ABOVE) ran back to back in the summer.
Tavo Hellmund, chairman of Formula 1 United States at Austin, released this statement after the Grand Prix of America announcement:
“I want to extend my congratulations to Leo and his team, as I know how much work they have put into making this happen. When I walked the site a few years ago, the site's potential was obvious. I am excited for the East Coast and feel Tuesday's announcement is yet another acknowledgement of the viability, fan interest, economic benefits and prestige an F1 Grand Prix event brings to a region. New Jersey and Texas, nearly 2,000 miles apart, offer unique and very different fan experiences destined to not only raise the visibility of the sport in this country, but also increase the global attraction and U.S. support of these world-class events. These two regions are going to be terrific backdrops for the world's most advanced form of racing.”