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Sunday, February 22, 2009

If you build it, we will come... but only if you do it right

Time is ticking down, and in less than two days, Ken Anderson, Peter Windsor and company at USF1 are set to make an announcement concerning the new team live on Speed TV.

A countdown timer and message are up on the Web site, thanking fans for support and touting the aims of the project.

“Proving that American technology, American drivers and the American competitive spirit can compete and win on the F1 global stage has been our mission for several years now. And, judging by the overwhelming response we have received from F1 fans both in the US and worldwide, from within the F1 industry and from the US hi-tech industry, we think that many of you agree with us.”

I can’t speak for other fans, but I can’t believe I’m the only one who is looking at this whole thing with a mixture of hope and trepidation. If we are going to do this thing, we need to do it right.

With the exception of those of us who might be called gearheads, I think it is safe to say most people in this country are unaware this is happening. Most of America is unaware of a sport called Formula 1, for pete’s sake. A race in the States for close to a decade did little to make a dent on the mainstream.

Throwing out the fact that the bulk of the schedule airs when many are at church, F1 competes with a slough of popular family and entertainment diversions every other Sunday.

The majority of U.S. sports fans aren’t suddenly going to tune into watch a backmarker or a ‘B’ team. They will not take long-term interest in a PR gimmick, so forget the Danica Patricks. And let’s face it, USF1 is not going to challenge McLaren or Ferrari.

So don’t aim for Joe Six-Pack. That’s the mistake Major League Soccer made in its early years - modifying the rules to make it more “American” - which failed to attract the average sports fan and ticked off the diehard football fan.

Play to your audience. We are a small slice of a broad U.S. sports landscape, but an enthusiastic one, and a small slice of the U.S. market is the equivalent of a large slice of many other country’s sports markets. It’s just the nature of things on this side of the Atlantic, something Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t grasp. Hopefully, someone like Peter Windsor, who had been part of the Speed TV F1 coverage for the last several years, does.

If you do it right, if you are competitive, if you promote American talent, you will win us over.

Renault looks to India?

Even as some believe Renault may bo on its way out of F1, especially after losing title sponsor ING, a report out of India says the team is in talks with an Indian multinational for sponsorship. The Economic Times reports.

Malaysia locks in twilight race

Bernie Ecclestone’s preference for the Far East may be night races like the one in Singapore, but Malaysian Grand Prix organizers said Thursday they will host a "twilight" race until the current contract runs out in 2015, arguing floodlighting is too costly. AFP reports.

Teixeira: F1 is stealing our ideas

A1GP chief Tony Teixeira, his series reeling from the widespread economic crisis, is bashing F1 again. Speaking from Kyalami this weekend, he compared F1 to professional wrestling, lacking in credibility. He goes on to say the sport’s move to a single tire supplier, the tightening of engine specs and the emergence of teams like Force India are blatant copies of the A1GP blueprint. The Times reports.

“Instead of copying all the ideas from A1GP — just buy me out!” Teixeira said. “Everything we are is what Formula 1 is trying to be ...”

Williams opposes wind tunnel limits

The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) is looking at limiting wind tunnel use as part of its cost cutting measures, but Frank Williams opposes such a move, believing it will leave his team at a disadvantage. Autosport.com reports.

Honda snubbed Bernie

Honda bosses Ross Brawn and Nick Fry apparently turned down a £100million rescue offer from Bernie Ecclestone. News of the World reports. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


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