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US Cash Flow Catastrophe?

Maybe we are not there yet, but setbacks have been around since they one of both GPs announcements (At Austin and New Jersey). Let's briefly see about the state of them.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21st, 2012 (F1plus / Ernie Black).- We are all aware of Bernie's vision to further globalize Formula One. We are also aware of the elephant in the room, which is gaping hole in Bernie's plan, with the US missing from the equation.

Yes, I am aware of the US GP that is scheduled for November in Austin Texas, but it hasn't happened yet. I am also aware of the plans for the GP in New Jersey, which incidentally, hasn't yet happened either and has suffered yet another blow recently.

Let's get into the financial side of things for a brief moment. I'm not going to go into any specifics, but simply raise a couple flags.

For those of you who don't know the name Steve Sexton, he is currently the president of the Circuit of the Americas which is to host the GP later this season. The circuit is new and has been built from the ground up. The first layer of tarmac was laid a few weeks back and is well on its way to being completed. There have been some issues with funding throughout the project but so far so good. There is however a slight problem. Sexton and his group submitted an application to the state for funding to the tune of several millions of dollars, and it doesn’t seem to be going as planned.

There has been some friction lately with regards to this application and the circuit's eligibility for the funding. It seems that the application may not have been completed correctly. Even a ruling by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has left the matter in an unresolved state. The primary bone of contention seems to be whether Austin applied locally for the F1 GP or whether or not it was hand-picked by FOM, which could sway the decision.

Heading North East then, to the Jersey shore. No hiding the fact that there have been financial flip flops over the last year. So much so that Bernie Ecclestone publicly stated that he wasn't certain the race would actually take place. Now, those of you who have been following F1 for decades will know that Bernie has tried forever to get a GP in NYC. Port Imperial sits handsomely with the New York skyline as it's backdrop which couldn't be more perfect for Bernie's F1 vision of a GP of America. I highly doubt that a few late payments will cause Bernie to call it off. It means too much to him and to New Jersey to have this slip through for a matter of a few million dollars. In the grand scheme of things, it's chicken feed compared to the amount of money that can be generated for both parties.

Last evening however, news broke about the president of the organizers of the GP of America stepped down. His resignation is not expected to cause major problems, however is seen by many on the outside as a concern. It is uncertain who will take over for Tom at this time as we await an announcement from the GP's biggest proponent Leo Hindery Jr. Leo is a petrol head himself having even won at Lemans 24 hours in his Porsche GT3. Do not underestimate him though; he's a serious business man with a wealth of experience, as well as being an author and political activist.

It's a shame that Tom stepped down however. He may have been the marketing mind that F1 so desperately needs to get its hooks into the illusive US market. Look what he's been able to do with NASCAR.

Why is this a catastrophe then? Well, at the moment, it’s not. Almost every new circuit hits snags and has some financial challenges. However, in the case of the US, negative news isn’t really good for either side of the equation. In order for F1 to really step into the next phase of Bernie’s global vision, two things need to happen. The first is for North America to embrace the sport and support it. It is a huge consumer market. The second is to have F1 constantly in the news and in the media and projecting a positive and elite image. Both of these Grand Prix must be held and must be successful. The current situation seems less than adequate from the outside. Let’s hope all of the financials get sorted quickly.

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