Circuit of The Americas founder Tavo Hellmund mentioned a new Formula 1 circuit was being considered somewhere in Northern California in an interview published by the Austin Statesman-American this evening.
Hellmund told the Statesman that a Northern California party was interested in building a grand prix circuit and had approached him in the last year about the possibility. While permits and additional land would be necessary, Hellmund feels the land would be a good location for a circuit, and good enough to send Formula 1 circuit experts Tilke GmbH to have a look at the site.
This news comes comes after two Formula 1 circuits Hellmund has been involved with recently hosted the United States Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Mexico in consecutive weekends. Circuit of The Americas held its fourth USGP on October 25th amidst declining attendance figures, changing political climate towards the race, and severe weather, while Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez held an inaugural race after a 23 year absence from the Formula 1 calendar for a sold-out audience with over 330,000 attendees over the weekend in Mexico City.
While Austin serves as Formula 1’s current beachhead in the United States, a larger plan to expand the sport has brought venues such as New Jersey and Long Beach into the fold as new races stateside to fill the calendar eventually. Putting more pressure on existing races to stay on the calendar, word of a new venue in California has some speculating as to where a race would make the most sense for F1 as well for the city and municipality involved.
In the midst of a very wet United States Grand Prix practice at Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1’s CEO revealed to Sky F1 Reporter Ted Kravitz his current thinking on America’s next Grand Prix:
“Basically, I think we’re going to have to go California way.”
Existing locations like Sonoma Raceway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca have been mentioned, but it’s not clear what incremental value the worldwide exposure a Formula 1 race would bring to these circuits and regions in Northern California. A more likely location could be a area with plans to expand its presence on the global stage.
Long Beach’s development and revival beginning in the 70’s and 80’s with Formula 1 at the front of a long list of series that have raced there serves as an example cited by any city in contention for a street circuit, but when asked if Formula 1 would return there, Bernie’s dismissed the idea at the suggestion. Reading further into his statement, by any impartial definition to judge Bernie’s words, ‘out California way’ would include points in between Austin and the Pacific Ocean. Las Vegas couldn’t be ruled out for a stop on a drive West, for example.
New Jersey’s hopes for a race were not dashed, and when asked about the future of Formula 1 at the Port Imperial circuit, Bernie replied “We’re still battling it on with that.”