Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone might have spurned Tony George and Indianapolis, but he hasn’t given up on the idea of finding a suitable U.S. site for a future grand prix venue. While Eccelstone has in the past insisted that Formula 1 doesn’t need America, it seems self-defeating for F1 to turn its back on such a lucrative commercial market. And considering that Formula 1 currently has two other races in the New World (Canada and Brazil), it makes sense to add a third to the mix to round out a pan-American leg of the F1 itinerary.
Recently, a New Jersey site was offered up as a possible American F1 venue. The chief selling point seemed to be a proximity to the Manhattan skyline, which would have been observable in the distance. But the venue wouldn’t have offered a permanent road course; rather, it would have been a temporary street course on public property. The idea was ultimately nixed by the local municipality.
Now a new plan has emerged which might see the Formula 1 circus travel to New York (Ecclestone seems fixed on the Empire State). A new permanent road course facility built by the Monticello Motor Club, some 90 minutes outside of Manhattan by car, has emerged as a likely contender.
While the track is in New York State, the site is anything but urban. It’s located at the foot of the Catskill mountains, and photos reveal a topography reminiscent of the Nurburgring or Monza sites. Formula 1 track designer Herman Tilke has visited the facility, and pronounced it suitable for hosting a Formula 1 race, pending certain modifications.
Indeed, a cursory look at photos of the course reveal that it was clearly purpose built for amateur sports car events, rather tan anything approaching the level of Formula 1. The runoff areas are limited, and look more like sand traps on a golf course than they do anything else. And the track itself appears quite narrow by F1 standards.
One also has to assume that the current pit, paddock and media facilities wopuld require extensive (and expensive) development before Monticello could hope to host a bona fide U.S. Grand Prix. Tony George discovered the hard way what a major undertaking such an upgrade could be, and one wonders just who would for the bill if Ecclestone and the MMC were able to finally strike a deal.
The Monticello track is situated on 175 acres of wooded land with numerous natural elevation changes. It’s capable of being used in 12 different configurations, but its longest layout is 4.1 miles, with 1.5 miles of straights and 22 turns, including increasing radius, decreasing radius and hairpins.