Formula One racing, known as F1, is one of the hottest tickets in sports these days. It is the highest level of single-seat, open-wheel, and open-cockpit professional car racing. Cars regularly reach well over 100 miles per hour, and that’s on a closed track, not the Garden State Parkway. This sport has been popular for a long time in Europe but has recently grown in popularity here in the US. With an expanded schedule of races in the US, could an F1 race come to Hudson County? Read on for what we know about Formula 1 potentially coming to NJ.
In October 2011, plans were unveiled for an F1 race called the Port Imperial Street Circuit. A big promotional event was held and several drivers drove the would-be course. The 3.2-mile course route made its way through Weehawken and West New York, all overlooking the Manhattan skyline, creating an incredible visual for drivers and spectators alike.
The race was scheduled for 2013, but was pushed back to 2014, according to the Hudson County View. Organizers vowed to make the race happen in 2015 and then in 2016, per NJ.com. Eventually, the contract between local organizers and F1 leadership was canceled.
Per Forbes, the plans fell apart due to funding and other issues. Race organizers were unable to pull together the estimated $100 million needed for the race, nor were they able to complete necessary repairs to roadways in Weehawken and West New York.
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At the time, F1 racing was mainly popular overseas. American racing fans already had domestic races through NASCAR and Indy 500 series. However, the sport has become more popular in the US thanks to a partnership between F1 and ESPN, a Netflix show, and new drivers.
What’s Happening Now
F1 racing is one of the fastest-growing and most popular sports in America, according to Sports Illustrated. In-person events are sellouts, televised events are all record-breakers for viewership, and the international audience makes the league a dream for sponsors.
The Netflix documentary Drive to Survive debuted in 2018. The series follows different F1 drivers and teams behind the scenes throughout the season. Many credit the series for increasing F1’s popularity in the US and expanding its base demographic, including doubling female viewership. According to The Athletic, getting to know the drivers as individuals has had a humanizing element in increasing viewership.
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“This has resonated with a different demographic, a younger demographic, a female demographic,” Ian Holmes, F1’s director of media rights, said in an interview last year. “Your avid fan will 100 percent hoover through the series. But what is particularly exciting for us is how non-fans have become fans.”
The partnership between F1 and ESPN is unique in that the races are shown without commercials. The partnership began in 2018 and was recently renewed until 2025, with the addition of the races being broadcast on ESPN’s streaming services and its channels in Latin America, according to Forbes.
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According to Forbes, ESPN set records for viewership in 2022 posting an average of 1.21 million viewers per race across ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC. The 2022 season also became the first in U.S. television history to average 1 million or more viewers per race.
In 2023, F1 races will take place in Miami, FL, Austin, TX, and Las Vegas, NV. The Las Vegas course is the newest addition, and according to Sports Illustrated, an American driver is also in the F1 circuit now, Logan Sargeant, who is from South Florida. Per the New York Times, Logan, who is now 22, grew up racing go-karts in Florida and moved to the UK in his teens to pursue racing.
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Since the plans for a local race have already been drawn up, could it be time to revisit the conversation? In a conversation with NJ.com, local leaders were interested but unsure if it could work. In the intervening time since the original plans were made and now, many construction projects have changed the landscape of the proposed route.