Honda website
Honda website

FEBRUARY 17, 2006

Las Vegas talk means negotiations are on at Indianapolis

Rumours that there might be a Formula 1 race in Las Vegas in the new few years would suggest that negotiations over the future of F1 at Indianapolis are now well advanced with the parties involved no doubt haggling over the price.

The two parties both have good reason to keep the event going. Formula One needs a strong presence in the United States of America and it makes no sense at all to walk away from a well-established, well-organised permanent facility to go back to temporary street races in towns with little interest in the sport. F1 proved in the 1980s and 1990s that this was not a sensible policy and to return to that strategy would be foolish.

From an Indianapolis point of view, the race last year was a setback but the investment made in the speedway and the global coverage gained means that it is much better off with F1 than without it. Indianapolis claims to be the racing capital of the world and without F1 it has to rely on the Indy Racing League and NASCAR which do not have the same international cachet as Grand Prix racing. Indianapolis also has the seating capacity which makes it easier to make a profit from F1 than many of the other F1 tracks. It is simply a question of convincing the people to come to the races, which is a problem of promotion which Indianapolis and Formula One need to address together.

The Indianapolis contract expires this year. Formula 1 would probably benefit from a street race in the United States but that would be in addition to Indianapolis rather than replacing it. There has been work going on with Steve Wynn in Las Vegas for many years and there is some possibility that Wynn might still be interested as he markets his new mega-resort Wynn Las Vegas and its sister development Encore, which will open in 2008. There is also some potential to create a race track on the adjoining golf course, to avoid disrupting local traffic.