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A New Jersey fairytale?

NEWS STORY
12/06/2013

Despite the positive talk coming out of New Jersey, with claims that the Grand Prix of America is "still on" for June 2014, a Pitpass reader isn't so sure.

It's been a bumpy ride for the much anticipated New Jersey event, and one, were it not for the prospect of F1 cars racing against the most iconic skyline there is, we would have grown tired of long ago.

Following months of worrying silence the PR machine roared into action again recently. In May it was announced that Chris Pook, former CEO of CART, who also founded the USA Grand Prix West and helped develop other F1 races around the country including Detroit, Las Vegas and Dallas, had joined the Grand Prix of America executive team as Special Assistant to the Chairman, Leo Hindery.

Then, last week, came the appointment of Marty Hunt, who served as director of facilities at the Circuit of the Americas having previously worked at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, first as manager of track racing operations and later as director of operations, as Director of Race Operations.

Meanwhile, Hindery was insisting that the 2014 is still on, telling the Wall Street Journal, that all the necessary arrangements are in place for the race, not merely for the 2014 event but "for the next 15 years."

Having revealed that the organisation has been "spending like a sailor on leave", Hindery admitted that previously there had been problems and that he could understand Bernie Ecclestone's frustration.

"Bernie was 100 percent correct in that we hadn't satisfied his demands and we didn't have a binding contract in place, and he had every right to question our ability to get it done," he told NJ.com. "And as we told Gov. Christie, we were going to do it without any money from the state or the towns, and that made it very difficult. And it took us longer."

So, the team is in place, the necessary arrangements are in place (for 15 years), Bernie is happy, the taxpayers won't need to dig into their pockets, all is fine.

Not so, according to a Pitpass regular.

"I am an avid F1 fan, and I have been following the reports on Pitpass about the possibility of a race in NJ," they write. "I didn't have a chance to get to Austin last year and it was great to see a sell-out crowd. I thought that if tickets go on sale later this year for NJ it would be good to have some idea of where the best seats might be so I could get my tickets early.

"Before Montreal this weekend I happened to be in New York so using the photos from Pitpass last March and online images of the layout planned by Hermann Tilke – that, amongst other things, showed where the pits and paddock and other facilities are supposed to be - I headed to the proposed site.

"I had to send this to you because it seems to me that there is something wrong here," they continue. "I've been to a lot of F1 races and nothing I saw at the proposed site seems to have anything at all to do with F1. The images that were on Pitpass are a parking garage with what looks like small shops on the ground level.

"I read this weekend that the promoter, having previously claimed he had a contract for a race, is now suggesting that the paddock is "completed". I don't know what his idea of "completed" is but it's sure not what I have seen.

"I can't imagine any team or Bernie Ecclestone thinking what's currently there is what F1 expects. Personally, I believe Pitpass, and other media outlets, have been "misinformed" (that's being kind).

"I don't think fans should be getting all revved up over this," they conclude. "Especially when I remember this promoter bad-mouthing the people in Austin who he said would never get a race done. Well COTA built a great track and put on a great race while the NJ team seems to be all talk."

The reader has sent a whole load of pictures, some of which are shown here, and it does indeed appear that some of these newly built facilities would be wholly inappropriate for F1.

We await the next development with keen interest.

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