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Bernie in America

FORMULA 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and Formula 1 Race Director Charlie Whiting were both in the United States of America last week and as they were not spotted in any of the usual destinations there was speculation that the pair may have gone off to look at possible sites for a second Grand Prix in the United States.

There is little doubt that if the race at Indianapolis in September is a success - and all the indications are that it will be - Formula 1 will want to capitalise on that success with another race in North America as quickly as possible.

Mayor Willy Brown in San Francisco is still bidding for an event on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay and this is a fairly realistic project as the site can be quickly modified, the city has the necessary infrastructure, there is unlikely to be much opposition as the event is on an island a long way from any housing and the island is already considered to be an ecological problem because of fuel spillages there when it was an air force base. The project is being championed by Chris Pook of Long Beach, a longtime Ecclestone associate.

There are other options, however, including a Formula 1 return to Detroit. The world capital of the automobile industry currently holds a CART race in June each year. Within the last few weeks the CART management has made the extraordinary decision not to return to Detroit in 2001 because the facilities on Belle Island are not good enough. CART boss Andrew Craig says that the series has outgrown the circuit. The City of Detroit was informed of CART's decision a few weeks ago and there is little doubt that the Detroit authorities will have contacted Ecclestone to see if he is interested in returning to the city. The City of Detroit may be prepared to spend money to upgrade Belle Isle for F1 which they would not spend for CART and there is no doubt that the city's Big Three car companies will support the initiative: Chrysler is now in league with Mercedes-Benz, Ford is taking a bigger and bigger interest in F1 (through Jaguar) and there is speculation that it is only a matter of time before General Motors becomes involved in Grand Prix racing.

The Belle Isle track would not be unlike Montreal and a June date might suit F1, particularly if the event was twinned with the race in Montreal.

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