Ecclestone's antics should ease pain of Indy's F1 loss

November 14, 2011
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Nobody, it seems, quite knows how to undermine his business partners like Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

The way Ecclestone has treated the folks in Austin, Texas, this month has to make Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials at least a little happy they no longer do business with the man known as the Poison Dwarf.

Certainly Indianapolis misses the big-spending F1 visitors who used to come annually for the F1 race at the Speedway. And the loss of a $100 million economic impact is never a laughing matter.

But the cost of not having to deal with Ecclestone has to at times seem priceless. The headaches that go with doing business with Ecclestone were on display in Austin the past two weeks.

Ecclestone told team owners in India earlier this month that he has serious concerns about the Austin race, set for 2012. He later reiterated that message to the world-wide media that follows F1.

“We are trying,” he told reporters at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “It is a bit of an uphill struggle but we will try and get there. There are two parties. One has got a track and is building it, and the other has got the contract. And they forgot to talk to each other.”

This all came as a big surprise to race promoters in Austin.

“Our funding is secured, and construction is on schedule, so we don't understand Mr. Ecclestone's comments,” said Steve Sexton, president of the Circuit of the Americas. “He has expressed great interest in the Austin race and in expanding the F1 brand into the United States.”

Who knows what Ecclestone’s motives are. Maybe there’s a race in Turkey that suddenly looks attractive, and Ecclestone is thinking about ditching Austin in favor of that. It wouldn’t be the first time Ecclestone has pitted one potential race site against another.

For all anybody knows, maybe Ecclestone has merely decided he doesn’t like Tex-Mex food.

But it all sounds so familiar to those of us in Indianapolis.

Ecclestone came here promising to use the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis to grow the sport in North America. IMS chief Tony George built him a track and other expensive infrastructure—to the tune of $75 million—and cut F1 a sweetheart deal which assured the series took all the broadcast money and more.

After a one-year honeymoon in 2000, Ecclestone promptly came in, scoffed at Indy’s home-spun charm, criticized the city’s airport, and blasted the way the event was being marketed and the way locals were embracing the great F1 race.

Not surprisingly, attendance waned. It’s not clear which came first, Ecclestone’s critical outlook on this city or locals’ lost interest in the race. An F1-born Michelin tire fiasco in 2005 certainly didn’t help.

After toying with the city and IMS officials, Ecclestone took his cars and went home after the 2007 F1 race at the famed Brickyard.

Sure there were some things the city and IMS could have improved. But did anyone really think Austin could do it better than Indy? I suppose it’s possible.

But gauging from the way this city has pegged much of its growth on a sports-centered strategy, it didn’t seem like a good bet that Ecclestone would be any happier in a Lone Star city that doesn’t boast half of Indy’s experience in pulling off prime-time sports events.

When it comes to Ecclestone, there’s only one guarantee.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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  • You would think that with all that money and brains...
    ...that Austin would be smarter than to crawl into bed with Bernie. Clearly they have not been paying attention. And now with the New York / New Jersey race looking more and more likely, Austin is looking less and less so. And given a choice, we're headed to Manhattan!
  • What was TX thinking?
    Not only does Austin get abused but it is my understanding that the state of TX pledged $25 Million/per year for 10 years to convince Bernie to bring F-1. Why F-1 allows that clown to continue running the show is beyond me. You would think F-1 would be interested in the world's largest economy rather than underdeveloped counties that put $ in Bernie's pockets? Oh to be rich and stupid!
  • know with whom you're dealing
    Some of you may have seen Eccleston'e rap sheet that is as long as your arm. It's real, and it's out there.
  • Oh that Bernie!
    J.E.Smith makes a valid point that, with NYC/New Jersey F1 race planned, Bernie may renege on any promises to Austin for a guaranteed future. Instead, Bernie will complain about low attendance, no local support or appreciation and size of Texans' hats as he weasels his way out of a long-term Austin F1 race.

    I've still not gotten over the Indianapolis city and community leaders not stepping in to try and keep F1 at IMS. Here we are blowing millions for a 1 time Super Bowl event while an Indy F1 Grand Prix could have generated millions every year...after year.
  • Ecclestone is a businessman
    And sometimes folks get swindled...like Tony George. Face it, the dude Bernie is rich and F1 is most popular auto sport in the WORLD.

    That's success. Indy and IRLerz, not so much. Estimates have it at $700 million and counting...to own it all with Innnapolis charm. How's that working out for ya since 1996? China anyone? Ohval saviors? Kicked out of Japan? mr. Potato-head car? Bwaghahhhaaa! Hey, jealosy!! hey jealosy...
    • Ease Indy's pain
      and bulldoze the joint. :lol:

      Say what you will about Bernie, but he grows the sport every year. All the H/G clan ever did was destroy AOWR with their scorched earth policies. Yet, they are the self declared guardians of the sport and revered as such, in the bizarro world of the .1rl. :roll:

      If anyone's interested, here's a bit of informed speculation as to the Austin situation: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20111113/F1/111119950

      While I'm not a fan of the prices charged to hold a GP, you can't say that Bernie is over charging for them. He has a line of countries/promoters willing to shell out for the honor, and he's never put a gun to anyone's head to make them pay, so it is what the market says it's worth.

      Perhaps when Anthony writes his annual article about how much $$$ the .1rl lost again in 2011, he can also compare it to how much F1 made in 2011. I'd like everyone to see how the 2 stack up. ;)
    • What Happened To The Actual Topic?
      I see the mental giants have stepped in to concoct IMS slamming out of the proposed Austin and New Jersey events. Go figure. LOL. It might surprise some to know that the city of Indianapolis offered IMS funding to keep F1 after Bernie raised the price, and IMS politely declined. Unlike other venues, IMS has never taken a cent of public money, and it appears they have chosen to continue that policy. Good for them.
    • The Actual Topic
      doesn't affect any Indianapolis business.

      If they wanted a racing story that did, you'd think you'd get an article asking .1rl authorities who made the call to throw 34 cars on the track in Vegas, when the rule book says 28 cars max. Then, some follow up about driving standards. But, I guess they're circling the wagons in the minor leagues...

      Anyway, while the H/G clan weren't willing to take any State money in order to pay sanctioning fees to Bernie and the LEGENDARY F1 CONSTRTUCTORS like: Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, BMW, Renault, etc, they were more than chomping at the bit for State money for their clown car league.
      The .1rl decided they needed new cars. And, seeing as no team can make enough to buy their own cars under the H/G clan's vision, and the H/G clan don't want to spend any more of their own money, they got the State to buy them.
      The State is paying towards the building where Dallara is supposedly going to build the next clown car too. See, the H/G clan will take all the State money they want, as long as it benefits the H/G clan, and only the H/G clan...
    • Smugness is not a virtue
      I'm always bemused by the know it all posts that are sure to follow any article Anthony publishes about racing. Sure is easy to beat up on IndyCar, Tony George and anything else connected with IMS these days. Also easy to call other posters "mental giants" behind the anonymity of a fictional name.

      As the topic was about F1 racing in America, why wouldn't a mention of the fiasco surrounding the premature end to the Indy Grand Prix be on topic?

      Regardless of the circumstances (and I don't know exactly the facts because I wasn't there), I remain disappointed more wasn't done to keep the Indy Grand Prix here.

      I guess respecting what someone else has to say, even if it doesn't parallel your thinking, is hard to do when you perceive yourself as superior in some way. I wouldn't know as I enjoy the back and forth opinions expressed here and don't consider myself better or worse than anyone else.
    • Query For The Mental Giants
      What is .1RL?
    • Iron Dwarf?
      I've heard more people refer to Bernie as the "Poison Dwarf" over the years. As an avid F1 fan,I really miss having the USGP at IMS. Maybe the teams will have enough of Bernie when the new Concorde Agreement comes due and make good on their threat to form a rival series. T'would serve the strutting little martinet right.
    • COTA
      The Circuit of the Americas want Tavo Hellmund out, and Tavo wants some assurances ... All Bernie wants is someone to sign the contract before the World Motorsport Council meets in December, but everyone in Austin seems to be stabbing each other in the back, because they can smell all that lovely global money F1 brings to town.
    • Ecclestone is a Businessman
      ... & you are obviously not a spelling bee champ.
    • Good on you Indanapolisians
      The F1 diversion topic is just that....steers away from the Indy problems of the day:

      -2012 Dallara WAY unbalanced for oval competition.

      -2012 Baltimore GP in jeopardy because the 2011 race was successful (estimate up to 160K in attendance), yet the BGP can't pay the city back nor plant trees they ripped down.

      -2012 CHina race? IRL in china, that's a laugh.

      -In 2004, TonY Goerge said in 5 years the IRL would be bigger than F1 and NASCAR. Well, it's 2011 and it's so tiny you need a microscope and tweezers.

      -Local Speedway government DID kick in $$$ (via bonds) to get Dallara building built. Of course, cars are being built in Italy and drivers got to italy to do Indy simulations for the new car, but who's got time for these pesky details.

      -Speedway also go the state to kick in some STIMULUS $$$ ($150K for car) for the owners to finance the new 2012 Mr. Potato Head Cars, without multiple bodykits etc.

      -2012, the oval saviors are down to (estimated) 80% road/street courses and 20% ovals schedule. They "Might" have road courses Mr. georgE said at the IRL's inception. Geez, good thing CART died tw!ce for the oval saviors to save strret racing for the future Tony Stewarts, Jeff Gordons, Ryan Newmans, Sam Hornish, and other road to Indy types.

      -Rusty Wallace still wouldn't get out of an electric chair to drive one of the crappwaggons. 2012 et al.


      So, F1 doesn't need Indy. Neither do the auto racing fans.
    • Chef Boy R Dumb
      Chef

      The IndyCar board called. Since you refuse to
      use your superior knowledge and inside information to promote American Open-wheel
      Racing, they are asking that you resign as
      Czar/God/Savior of Indycar at once, or be unceremoniously and publicly sacked , including loss of executive washroom access.

      Please take your meds and concentrate on the
      topic BEFORE you respond.
    • On tpoic
      So, we thumb our noses at F1 and Bernie to make ourselves feel better, huh?

      If Tony could get back in power NONE of this would be necessary and hunedreds of Hulman lackeys would have their jobs back, maybe even un-raze the Speedway Motel and get some good grease and slide AJ back in a Watson. Poof...all them wine and cheese wankers from F1 would hold Indy as the holy grail once again.

      If it was 1960.....bwahahhahahhaha!
    • Focus
      Chef

      No one "thumbed our nose" at anything but your rants. I'm inclined to use another
      finger toward you.

      The story is about Bernie and his propensity
      to having dysfunctional relationships with
      many of his business associates. Everyone
      knows you hate everything IndyCar. Therefore
      all of your comments (except that Bernie is
      rich) are off topic. If you want to say something germain, try this : "It's an undisputed fact that most Americans love F1
      racing as much as they do soccer."


    • Who's Going To Austin?
      Not many, it would appear. They halted construction today. No money. Of course that's probably Tony George's fault too, huh? LOL.
    • No
      But Tony is directly responsible for IRL going to Las Vegas streets instead of oval NAD the loss of F1 at indy.

      ANTHONY: Why can't you write stories like how bad TV ratings were for Indycar in 2011, China in 2012, the problems of the new car, and the new desire by Randy to go to the Las Vegas streets?

      Seriously, who cares about F1 and Indy anymore? More deflection from the troubles of the "league".
    • Can Probably Forget About New Jersey Too
      ....and yet 'the league' has been turning wheels for sixteen seasons. Next year the field could well be over 30, and orders for new Dallaras continue.

      It is kind of amusing watching it continue to drive the handful of obsessed haters crazy every year.

      Nowthen, back on topic, it appears we no longer have to worry about F1 in Austin. Perhaps they'll run Indy Cars there.
    • schizophrenia...
      How does one go from:

      "Who's Going To Austin? Not many, it would appear. They halted construction today. No money."

      To:

      "Nowthen, back on topic, it appears we no longer have to worry about F1 in Austin. Perhaps they'll run Indy Cars there."

      In the space of 32 minutes???

      1 side says: They aren't going to build it. They have no money...
      The other side says: The .1rl can race there!!! :lol:
      Why don't you just ask ole RB about it on your next lunch date with him in the private plane. :roll:


    • Word out of Indy
      Robin Miller sez the road course stinks at the SPeedway...AND of course, IMS/IRL/Indycarz is querying fans to see if they can fleece 'em some more for a crapwaggon grand Prix on the Indy road course in early May 2012.

      Things must be tough all over, maybe zBernie had good reason to leave indy with F1 in tow.

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