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Bernie's New York state of mind

NEWS STORY
20/08/2014

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, thrice, four times?

With Bernard Charles Ecclestone buying his way out of bribery charges - proving that one can bribe their way out of a bribe - and declaring himself to be back in charge at F1, the summer break gave us pause to consider how easily he has been fooled into believing that it was a good thing for the 'circus' to go to such hotbeds of F1 fandom as Turkey, India, Korea, China, Sochi - with its 25,000 grandstand seats - and now, of all places, Azerbaijan while he threatens historic venues like Monza and France, arguably the birthplace of motorsport and headquarters of the FIA doesn't even have an event. And yet Mr. E still believes that these now or soon-to-be gone Tilketoy tracks show Formula 1 as a "world-class" sports event. With this in mind we now ponder the latest foolery coming from New Jersey and ask how many times Mr. E needs to be fooled before he finally gets it.

We digress with a bit of Hindery history...

October 2011, to much fanfare and accompanied by his 'wing man', Humpy Wheeler, Leo Hindery, erstwhile racer and would-be promoter, announces that F1 is heading to New Jersey in 2013 to another Tilke-penned track. Mr. E declares that this spectacle will have the New York City skyline as a backdrop. The Governor of New Jersey gushes about how great it will be to bring a world-class event to his state. The local Mayors proudly assign themselves the roles of Prince Albert overseeing their realm... Monaco on the Hudson. In the meantime it appears that no one has bothered to consider the impossibility of the proposal from its reliance on using land slated for other development to its need to cut off all local road access for weeks (Hindery fools the locals into thinking it's just "three days").

Fast forward one year and Mr. E declares that the much-touted event has been postponed to 2014 because: "They didn't quite know what they were doing. They got all the permissions together. Everything was done, that was all fine, but then they missed the boat a little on some financing that was coming in. Everything is set up, but it's now too late to finish on time."

At that time, according to Bloomberg News, Ecclestone also said that race officials had "misjudged" the commercial and logistical requirements of being host to an event that was expected to draw more than 100,000 people. Bloomberg News also quoted the New Jersey Governor as confirming that just a week prior Hindery has assured him that the 2013 event was "absolutely happening". We were unconvinced by assurances from Mr. E and Hindery that everything was then fine considering that as early as January 2012 Pitpass had challenged the American to "show us the money".

Despite the doubts raised by Hindery's lack of public disclosure an investigation that showed that he in fact had no "permissions" to stage the event, by March 2013 he was declaring to Sports Business Daily: "We are back under construction" and "We have the consents in place that we didn't have last fall, and we will quite comfortably put the race on, now probably in the mid-year of 2014 with (Bernie Ecclestone's) support."

Hindery's announcement was accompanied by the release of photos purporting to show paddock and garage construction underway. That claim was debunked when a respected F1 photographer en route to Montreal stopped by the New Jersey site and reported that the construction was actually condominiums and a car park and had nothing to do with Formula 1. Pitpass ran photos (also) of the actual construction. Hindery remained silent whilst Wheeler was long gone.

Fast forward to June 2013 when the Wall Street Journal quoted Hindery as claiming the 2014 race is "definitely on" and that paddock and garage facilities are "nearly completed".

Sixteen days later Mr. E asserted that the contract with Hindery's "Port Imperial Racing Associates" has been torn up because Hindery didn't comply with its terms meaning he didn't show the F1 supremo the money either.

At this point one would think that a smart guy like Bernard Charles would recognize when he's being fooled. But when you're desperate to be in the US market in a bigger way than Austin, Texas, maybe there's a tendency to be foolish.

A mere month later, Niki Lauda, clearly a gentleman who knows F1 and has Mr. E's ear, declared to Austrian television station ORF that New Jersey had been dropped from the 2014 calendar. Pitpass reported at that time that Hindery was in a race to find money and had hired UBS to help him sell 100% of the event he believed was such a sure thing two years earlier.

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1. Posted by Dreadnaught, 21/08/2014 18:15

"Refers to chasing young skirt, probably also apt and if the cap fits. Why does everyone go on humouring the old goat, the sell by date was years ago. Nero fiddled while Rome burned and it's nearly razed !!!"

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2. Posted by my tyres are going off, 21/08/2014 17:49

"USA is a different market to Europe where F1 has it's heart. In the USA they go mad for Rounders with a mound for the bowler, Rugby where everyone wears armour and only plays for 20 seconds at a time and sports car racing were the rules are simple and the drivers are characters. Don't really get why they don't like Football (sorry soccer) Rugby (either code will do) and of course cricket but I do understand why fans flock to local tracks to watch all sorts of racing where, in many cases, a local garage or car dealer can still enter a privateer team. Bernie remeber your roots and forget trying to make another million."

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3. Posted by C5, 20/08/2014 19:03

"Two posts about NBC Sport's F1 covereage. And both critical. I don't get it. At all.

Yes, it doesn't have top scheduling priority. That's life. F1 is not that important in the US. And I always record it anyway, partly to skip some of the ad breaks, partly so I can re-watch and pause whenever I think I missed something.

But the commenting team is top notch. OK, Will Buxton's comments are sometimes more in the comic relief end that actual fact, and the way he phrases some if his interview questions is 'not helpful'. But compared to others covering the same position by other (European) broadcasters he is doing a better job by a long margin. Leigh is doing a fine job as the anchor too. He's a little bit too excitable (i.e. he starts screaming) to my taste, and I must admit I have enjoyed the few times Bob Varsha has sat in for him. But he's definitely alright.

And Steve and David are just the top. Excellent, timely, and witty commenting. And most of all avoiding most of the tedious statistics droning and stupid over-excitement that so penetrates American sports coverage. I could listen to them for days and not be bored. Try that with other broadcasters and you want to dig yourself into a hole after less than five minutes (and yes, I am familiar with both the UK, German, Dutch, Danish, and Swedish broadcasts). Only Kai Ebel at RTL does a reasonably decent job, the rest of them are a collection of boring/screaming/inattentive/unknowledgable/fumbling no-hopers. Even the UK hasn't, in my opinion, had commenting crew where not at least one of the members were absolutely unbearable (Jonathan Legard, cough, cough) since Ben Edwards and John Watson paired up at Eurosport back in the 90'es.

So be careful wishing for change, you might eventually get it. And that would totally s.ck. I will still refuse to watch the final race of this season (idiotic double points rule), but the NBC creaw (well, Steve and David specifically) is a BIG reason why I - and my wife, for that matter - look forward to every F1 race, season after season.


"

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4. Posted by Francis, 20/08/2014 17:58

"For most of mainstream America TV F1 is irrelevant - that is why they bumped it to CNBC and put Tour de France on NBC Sports during the last couple of GPs. For American TV - F1 is like the circus coming to town. Even the guys on NBC watch the show on a TV like me. I always assumed the time delay would help them keep abreast of what to say on TV, BUT all too often they are no more informed then I seem to be at home. Heck they cannot even tell when the world feed will cut from the action (again just like me), not to mention the number of times they talk over the team radios to tell me stuff I know is not going to happen! Unfortunately this is not a problem NBC can fix as it need help from FOM (Bernie). BUT remember Bernie's money/power is F1's huge ratings draw WORLDWIDE - I once saw a figure of approx 600 million a season. Until that money train slows down enough to worry Bernie (remember Bernie is in his 80s so I am not sure how much that gravy train will slowdown before nature takes its course) I think you can forget the whole modern broadcast options.

FOM cannot get me a IPAD app that give me a consistent flow of timing information and I paid $10 for it - and all that entails is sending me a set of numbers that are generated by the very people organizing the race. You would think Bernie would just hire a bunch of temps to type in the timing and hit "send all"!"

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5. Posted by MustangGTCS, 20/08/2014 4:23

"If Bernie is so interested in the U.S. market, why do we have to put up with NBC, who present endless commercials, and really boring, endless lip flapping from the four talking heads. Also, NBC changes from the sports network to the regular stations and seems to think soccer is more important then F!. Bernie, give us the option to subscribe to F! television, and maybe the interest will be there. As for New Jersey, what can I say, it is New Jersey. They have to be careful where they dig. "

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6. Posted by Willy, 20/08/2014 4:11 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 20/08/2014 8:51)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

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