America’s closest nod to a Monaco Grand Prix location has been Long Beach and it was a staple on the CHAMP car calendar as well as, now, the Indycar calendar. That Indycar race is usually the most popular of the season outside the Indy 500. That contract, however, is due to expire next year.
To those ends, a few folks in the press have pondered the idea of a Formula One race there instead of renewing the Indycar contract. Some suggested that our friend Zak Brown and his colleague, Chris Pook, were attempting to buy the contract from current owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe (both former CHAMP car men). According to Kalkhoven, that isn’t the case:
“Gerry and I are not interested in selling Long Beach” and would only consider it if “stupid money” was on offer. Jim Michaelian, the president and chief executive of the race added that “this is a story that keeps bouncing around every year or so, despite the fact that the race isn’t for sale and there’s been no contact between anyone and Kevin about a sale.”
The term “stupid money” is all relative here. No matter what Brown and Pook could offer, if F1 is behind the interest, it could offer a decent price and one has to believe that whatever that figure may be, it has to be on par of eclipsing what Indycar can afford to pay.
Is Formula 1 speaking with anyone about a potential west coast race at Long Beach? Ecclestone says they have:
“We are not in deep discussions with Long Beach but we have spoken to them,” he said.
Ultimately it boils down to one thing: Who can get the cash and sanctioning fees first? New Jersey is still muddling through the idea of hosting a race (which was supposed to happen this year) and Long Beach could be a contender of the owners want to spend the money but I don’t see current ownership forking over those kinds of dollars for Ecclestone circus.
Could it happen? It could due to the waning interest in Indycar. Our friend, and veteran reporter, Gordon Kirby said:
“This year’s race drew 375,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network in the United States, down 20% from 468,000 last year. Through this year’s first three IndyCar races NBCSN is averaging 343,000 viewers, 10 times smaller than a typical NASCAR race. Twenty years ago, when Nigel Mansell was racing for Newman/Haas in CART’s IndyCar World Series, the domestic TV audience for CART equalled NASCAR, but those days are long gone”.
It could stand to reason that a joint venture between Brown, Pook and Ecclestone could see the F1 machine roll into LA in 2015 but like all things, money talks and pride is a killer. If Kalkhoven wants stupid money from F1 prospects but isn’t getting that from Indycar, one has to weigh the future reality and consider his options. F1 may be a better answer in the long run.
What do you think? Would Long Beach make a great location for F1 to return too? Can lightning strike twice?