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Staten Island isn't Monaco, but...

THE Borough Board of Staten Island, Richmond County, New York, met last week to discuss a proposal for an international racing circuit to be laid out on the docks of the abandoned US naval base at Stapleton. The circuit would look out over New York harbor with the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline in the background and feature a yacht basin so that VIPs could watch the racing from the water - just like in Monaco.

The project is the idea of British developer Ianto Roberts, who hopes to build a 1.6-mile circuit which will be capable of hosting Formula 1, Indycar and NASCAR races within easy reach of the Big Apple. According to Roberts, a race at Stapleton would help to boost the local economy by around $100 million per year, which would be a big boost as the borough has suffered badly since the navy closed down the dockyards.

The board has given Roberts two months to answer questions about financing the project and environmental protests which might arise from the construction of a race track. If all goes according to plan, the circuit could be finished in time for a FormulaŹ1 race in 1997.

It should be remembered, however, that race promoters in and around New York have run into problems in the past. The Indycar race at Meadowlands, even closer into the city than Stapleton, operated between 1984 and 1991 with sponsorship from Marlboro, but never really attracted big crowds and ultimately faded away. Marlboro then tried to organize a race on the streets of New York's business district but the city authorities demanded too much money and that idea was shelved.

Elsewhere in the United States other developers are trying to establish a home for the American Grand Prix, notably at Brandy Station, Virginia. Work has begun on the construction of the circuit but the project recently ran into administrative difficulties. However, the backers of the circuit hope to get the building program moving again shortly.

In addition, down in Miami, Ralph Sanchez's motor racing circuit at Homestead, Florida - which includes both an oval and a road circuit - is now nearing completion.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone wants to get Grand Prix racing re-established in the United States but is currently not believed to be convinced by any of the projects, although he has played an important background role in the Brandy Station project.

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