[Autoblog]Since the Canadian Grand Prix was canceled for this season, Formula One has been entirely absent from North America. But participating automakers, investors and organizers alike know that the North American market is vital and can't be overlooked, and to that end several new developments are said to be underway to bring F1 back over to the western shores of the Atlantic.
First up, and probably the most straightforward, would be the reinstatement of the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. The event was long a mainstay of the F1 calendar and a prominent event both for locals and for racing fans from across Canada and the United States. Quebec provincial government minister Raymond Bachand confirmed in a recent radio interview that the local governments are motivated to bring the race back to Montreal, and that talks are ongoing with Bernie Ecclestone. A five-year deal at a more reasonable rate than what Ecclestone previously demanded is what local governments are seeking.
Meanwhile, reports are surfacing of several new circuits being built up the St. Lawrence River near Niagara Falls, Ontario. With the backing of Jeff Gordon and others, Kuwaiti investment firm Bayt Al Mal is reportedly building a new $200 million motorsports park in Niagara to include a one-mile oval track for NASCAR races and a 2.5-mile road course that could attract the Canadian Grand Prix to the site. The facility being built boasts seating capacity for 100,000, plus hotels and other accommodations on a 623 acre site. Several other projects are also reportedly under way in the region, close to upstate New York and not far from Detroit, including a 3.5-mile road course for the IRL.
Enough about Canada, what about the United States, you ask? Ecclestone's latest tirade precludes a return to Indy, while in his view none of the hundreds of existing race tracks in the United States would be suitable. Following his previous indications that a new track could be made near Las Vegas, Bernie's now suggesting that only New York would make a viable location for Formula One to return to the U.S. We wonder, meanwhile, what he'll come up with next.