F1 considered radical plan for 2020 Miami street race through tunnel

2017 F1 season

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Formula One considered a plan to incorporate the PortMiami Tunnel as part of a street circuit within the Florida city.

However the most radical part of the proposal, which would have seen cars winding left and right underground, has since been ruled out.

The proposal for a Miami grand prix, which could appear on the 2020 F1 calendar, was based on roads around the AmericanAirlines Arena where Formula E held a one-off race two years ago.

The Miami Herald reported on Tuesday a possible route had been considered which ran along Biscayne Boulevard, past the AmericanAirlines Arena, over the causeway to Dodge Island and through the PortMiami Tunnel.

Nonetheless F1 is still looking for a viable circuit in Miami, which is one of its target locations for a second race in the USA. F1 CEO Chase Carey has identified the city along with New York, Las Vegas and California as potential future venues.

Miami film and cultural administrator Vicente Betancourt said Formula One representatives had inspected roads in the downtown Miami area with a view to creating a circuit there. However some local groups have already voiced opposition to the proposal.

Although Formula One has never raced in Miami before, many other series have. Since 2002 NASCAR has held its season finale at the Homestead-Miami speedway south of the city. IndyCar raced at the same venue until 2010 and Tamiami Park held CART races in the eighties.

More recently Formula E raced on a street track in Miami during its inaugural season in 2015 (below). It never returned to the track, which also included a section around the AmericanAirlines Arena. Formula E has recently announced a race in Rome which includes the same roads which previously part of an abandoned plan for an F1 track in 2012.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “F1 considered radical plan for 2020 Miami street race through tunnel”

  1. Getting a second race in the US, especially a street race in a major city, is paramount for Liberty. Just like the European GP when it was held as a second race in Germany or Spain (because there was a surge of Schumacher/Alonso fans in these countries), getting a second race in US soil will play into Liberty’s global expansion idea. However i don’t think just picking a city and spending 10+ years in the same circuit to establish a fanbase around that area is a good idea…just like when a purpose-built F1 racetrack opens and wants to make that part of the country, the sole destination if you want to see F1.
    I think a better idea is to sign short-term contracts to host this new “American GP” in various cities around US. For example they can host the first 3-5 races in Miami, then move to New York for the next 3-5 years…and so on the can visit all the major cities in the US (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, …) establishing a nation-wide fanbase and not just a local one.

    1. ZERO, ZERO, as in NO chance there’s a NYC GP any time soon. The New Jersey GP, sorry Bernie but we all know NJ is not NYC no matter what the mayor and staff had told ya. NYC has no chance of an in-town race as there is no way the roads will be up to snuff with the camber changes and rutting, nevermind the lawsuits and injunctions that will come out the woodwork to slow any development. LA will have the same problem but even more so on the legal end with all the anti-car people.

      As for moving the races around, there’s no way with the costs associated with setting up for a race 3-5 races would make anything back. And 5 years is a eternity in sports circles, teams have new logos and management teams in that time period. It’s a nice idea but functionally impossible I’d think.

      1. The New Jersey GP screamed scam from the start. I don’t know who, but someone got $$ off of that whole thing.

    2. @black, the thing is, that strategy did not work especially well when it was tried in the past.

      After all, in the 1980’s there were times when F1 was putting on as many as three races per season in the US – for example, 1982 saw races in Long Beach, Detroit and Las Vegas – but they never really captured that much interest from the public (the Las Vegas event was considered to be a fairly dismal failure, in fact, often being cited as one of the worst circuits ever to feature on the F1 calendar and with fairly pathetic attendance figures).

      Another factor that could come into play for some of those venues would be a potential conflict with IndyCAR, which has sometimes imposed a “non compete” clause that prevents the use of the circuit by F1 (for example, Long Beach reportedly had to sign up to such a deal).

  2. I do wonder about having a roving European Grand Prix that would be a street race. It could rotate round various cities each year (and we could weed out terrible tracks and look at incorporating great ones).

    Obviously with all the safety equipment required etc it might be too costly but it would allow smaller countries to host a one off to boost the profile of F1. (Also could look at alternating hosts since Germany is struggling – maybe Germany on the even years and Turkey on the odd??)

    We need a Monaco/Suzuka/Silverstone/Monza every year but do we need a Russia or Azerbaijan every year? Does being irregular or one offs make the event more noticeable than just another stop??

    1. Azerbaijan is one of the most boring races on the circuit, even more so than Monaco… although it could be argued that every GP circuit would benefit with being rotated on an annual basis, which would possibly allow for races such as Imola (a personal hated circuit, but, a favourite of others) as well as routing away from the Tilkedromes…

  3. Great… if it works as part of a track layout. We need to stop having more and more races in locations simply because it looks nice for the camera’s and when the VIP’s take selfies. A combination of this and “the highest bidder” has led to dull tracks in Abu Dhabi, Sochi, Bahrain and to a lesser extent Baku and Singapore. Even Monaco could be accused of having no place on a modern day calendar.

    We need to get back to focusing on designing tracks that challenge drivers and generally produce good racing, like the majority of other tracks currently in use (and Istanbul Park, which is an example of a good track design).

    I’m all for new circuits and each one having something novel – Singapore’s original ‘Sling’ corner layout and Baku’s tight ‘Castle’ section, but they need to be incorporated to a design that encourages overtaking and forces mistakes from drivers.

    1. @black The Bahrain circuit isn’t dull, though.

  4. Not until all of the Grand Prix are held in American cities will Liberty Media feel that they are trully running the World championship. Europe is not the world, it’s not in Uncle Sam and the far east is Bangor, Maine. Anywhere else is just filled with people who don’t speak American.

  5. They should go and look at how well the ‘street festivals’ worked out for the old champcar series.

    They put a priority on “Taking the races to the people” by hosting races on street circuits in/close to large cities & the circuits tended to be poor, The racing tended to be worse & while the initial races were well attended the attendance ended up dropping year on year because the non-race fans they aimed to attract by making it a ‘festival’ atmosphere didn’t get grabbed by the racing so didn’t come back in future years.

    I don’t think any of the street races added during that era on still run by indycar today.

    If you can come up with a good layout that can produce good racing in a place where fans will come then fine, However far too often over the years the US puts together a street circuit that isn’t that good, doesn’t produce good racing & that doesn’t have longevity (In F1 over about 15 years they tried street races in Pheonix, Dallas, Detroit & Las Vegas).

    1. @RogerRichards +1.

  6. Why don’t they just resurrect the Port Imperial Circuit instead … ??

    1. I think there were more problems then they could ever get fixed with local laws and everything. It would be a beautiful track if they could make it work. Id still rather them goto a place like the Glen or Laguna Seca.

  7. The Homestead-Miami speedway looks a reasonably good circuit, and if they’re bored with it then there’s the sewage ponds nearby. If they’re worried about attendance then why don’t they get F1 races put onto Free to Air TV, make sure the ticket prices are affordable, and ensure decent public transport to and from the race track?

    1. Sean Bratches is strictly a ‘Madmen’ bums on seats ( and the more expensive the better) enthusiast.

    2. @drycrust,there are 8 billion reasons they cant make F1 cheaper to view, thanks Bernie.

  8. I don’t understand why the infrastructure can’t be improved at Laguna Seca. It is in a goergous setting, a few hours from either San Francisco or Los Angels, iconic track etc. They have always said the problem would be the roads leading to the track, but the track is now surrounded by thousands and thousands of acres of a defunct military base which could be bought up and put to any number of interesting uses. I don’t get it. You could literally build an exstension of a nearby highway and drop it right at the entrance to the track. Make hotels on the old base, testing areas, any number of fan zones etc.

    1. @ibrahim, on the contrary, that defunct military base potentially makes things a lot harder as some ex-military sites can be quite challenging to develop. Whilst there is an obvious hazard from unexploded ordnance, the residues from a number of explosives that the military have used over the years can be highly toxic and can make it very expensive and time consuming to decontaminate a site.

    2. A newly designed road course at the Auto club Speedway should be used if they want a race in the LA area. It’s already got garages and all it would need is some upgrading.

      1. Also Laguna Seca is too short for F1. It would need to be lengthened by at least half a mile.

  9. What i think needs to happen is they sorta need to take a look at the roots of the sport and where fans are. That means we need to leave places like Russia and limit the middle east races to 1 race. Here is how i would break it down. 8 European races, 2 in Asia, 2 in Japan, 1 in Africa or South Africa (Plenty of places to pick from), 1 In the Middle East, 3 in the USA, 1 in Mexico, 1 in China, 2 South America. That gives you the 21 races that they wanna max out at. What I would also do is each year I would rotate some of the tracks. Example would be in the USA you could run COTA and say Long Beach and then the other date each year could rotate to different tracks so things stay fresh like Laguna Seca. I also feel that 2 of the European races should be rotating races. Such as one year have a race at San Marino and the next year year at someone like Zandvoort. I just think the this would be a great idea and as I said a few times keep it fresh. The problem would be finding tracks who would want the races each year. Anyone else feel me on this? I want them to focus on Europe and classic places that draws fans not some track in the dessert that has no one watching it.

    Keith you should do a section of an post for people to pick out the 21 tracks they would like to see on the F1 calendar. If not we can do it in the comments. What tracks would you guys wanna see?

    1. I know i forgot to add Australia to my list so i will make it a 22 race season ;)

    2. “That gives you the 21 races that they wanna max out at.”

      I very much doubt Liberty wanna max out at 21 races.

    3. I’ll gladly give up an American race to keep one in Monteal.

      1. *Montreal

    4. I wouldn’t leave out Montreal either. It’s too good an event to leave out; even though you have to pay an arm and a leg to get good seats, and if you can’t, viewing facilities are not good.

      1. And also Japan would only need one race, IMO. I thought of this:

        Asian races:
        A street race in Hong Kong

        European races:
        France/Austria (rotation)
        Azerbaijan/Turkey (rotation)
        Spain/Portugal (rotation)
        Hungary/Czech Republic (rotation)

        Americas races:
        USA (Vegas or LA)
        USA (Austin)
        USA (Port Imperial)

        Other continents:
        South Africa

        Hey, 23 races is a lot- but that’s probably what it’s going to come to.

        1. I know Liberty wants more US races. But if you look at interest in the sport, why on earth 3 races in the US? Even with one race it is only reasonably well visited due to the attached concerts.
          I am really curious how F1 is ever going to be a success in the US without alienizing the current core public.

  10. Michael Brown (@)
    30th November 2017, 22:13

    Road America!

  11. Miami would be great for an F1 street race; kind of like what Long Beach was when F1 raced there. Miami is the second most visited American city by foreign travelers and the tropical weather, cultural melting pot and good beaches there makes it all the more attractive. Long Beach was a very popular venue back then due to its proximity to Los Angeles and the perfect Mediterranean weather there; it was really the only American F1 street race that actually was a success and that people actually liked going to. F1 stopped racing there after ’83 because Ecclestone wanted more money than the organizers were able to provide, and CART was a way more attractive proposition, so they went with CART. Las Vegas and Phoenix were both complete disasters (even though Phoenix was actually not a terrible circuit for racing); Dallas would have been successful if the race hadn’t been held in summer and Detroit was for the most part a decent success but no one liked going there because the circuit was as bumpy as a minefield and was very slow and angular; and Detroit as a city is about as cosmopolitan and sophisicated as Essex, Belfast or Sheffield.

    But what would really make for a successful American city street race is the city itself. Only the most cosmopolitan cities here in America would work for such an event. Cities like New York, Washington DC, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston (maybe), Chicago, San Francisco and Boston would be ideal- or even vacation destination cities like Nashville and Las Vegas would work (look at how Austin has turned out). Places like Indianapolis, Phoenix (to a lesser extent), Detroit and Orlando are not suitable for F1 because those cities are insulated working class cities and don’t have the patience and education to understand something as exotic and glamorous as F1.

  12. Finding a good location for a F1 street circuit is very tricky. Glamour spots like Miami, Las Vegas, etc. are great for all of the hoopla and events that surround the race but if the racing itself is a dud because the street circuits themselves are rubbish, then the fallout for Liberty and F1 will be very negative.

    Long Beach is a terrible choice for a U.S. F1 race at this point. It’s simply to damn narrow and overtaking is almost impossible. There would crash after crash with endless laps behind safety cars, etc. That’s the problem with almost every real street circuit. They can get away with it in Monaco only because of the history. However, in circuits like Long Beach about the only thing you can see are cars surrounded by tunnels of 25+ feet of fencing – very unappealing. That applies to both the view at the event and on TV.

  13. There are fabulous, world class, dedicated circuits in the U.S. but unfortunately they’re located away from big cities which makes it very tough to draw sell out crowds. Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is often cited by drivers around the world as one of their favorite tracks and it would be a *great* F1 circuit but it’s an hour from Milwaukee. The area is beautiful but F1 just doesn’t have the type of dedicated following that would make the trek there in same way that European fans flock to Spa, for example.

    1. @partofthepuzzle The bigger problem for a lot of those permanent venues like Road America, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio & the like is that there in no way suitable for F1 not just in terms of things like runoff, But in terms of facilities.

      Road America for instance has no Pit, Paddock or media facilities & is lacking in spectator access & facilities. Watkins Glen is similar as is Mid-Ohio.

      Laguna has a pit complex that was built within the last 10 years & I think it’s probably upto F1 standards, However run-off & media/spectator facilities would be a big issue.

      Other than COTA, The only permanent circuit in the US that is already upto F1 spec is Indy.

      I believe Utah Motorsport Campus has F1 standard pit/paddock/media facilities but would need work in terms of spectators facilities & putting some barriers up.

      1. Road America lacking in spectator access?? REALLY, have you been there? That’s so off base as to not even be on the same continent. Or is the Euro-centric style demands of the teams clouding your vision?

        First, NO ONE ever who’s visited Road America has said anything bad for fan access or viewing. Yes, the Kink would be nicer with more but there’s not much you can do there with the constraints of the property and safety. You could argue at most getting in to the track could be challenging but that’s the same at most any track, and it is pretty isolated.

        Utah’s facilities are TERRIBLE and every series that’s run there has commented so. The fan access is even worse due to the multiple layouts, required safety/run-off and the fact it is billiard table flat. There’s no raised areas to see across the track and it has no high points for reference. F1 would look boringly slow, paint drying has more excitement than Utah. And the ownership insanity there makes that a non-starter.

        Laguna’s restrictions make it a non-starter for F1 scheduling wise. Never mind the legal wrangling that has tied up ownership and made contracts for everything from series sanctioning bodies to food vendors impossible and unpredictable. It is also near impossible to get the F1 circus anywhere near the track smoothly, road access is very limited.

        Nevermind the fact you bring F1 to my local track and the 750 bucks I spend EVERY year to attend events plus the thousands more on track is done, over and gone. We’re tough enough on them running NASCAR there and multiple other track rental groups have said NASCAR, yes; our rentals NO. And it seems to have a national following in club racing, the tracks better have a brilliant idea to make up income cause F1 ‘improvements’ will end their rental business. And those who stay will see their rates 3-5x higher.

        The ONLY way another F1 race comes to the US is a city race and Baltimore, Boston, Houston, etc have all shown that just isn’t going to work without Liberty footing 100% of the bill. No need to debate it, it’s just not happening in the current climate. FE makes it easier with smaller tracks, few road closures and 2 day events. F1 just isn’t going to relent to work with cities, they think they’re the biggest draw and any city that can hold an F1 race probably has NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL teams in town too.

        1. Road America could probably be unchanged in terms of layout but it would need all new pit facilities and upgraded safety facilities to meet F1 standards. And it’s only an hour or so from Milwaukee and 3 hours from Chicago so getting there wouldn’t be too difficult.

          Also F1 should seriously look at racing at Daytona. Now that would be awesome.

          1. Too much banking for the tires. Look at the tire mishap with the loads on the little bit of banking at Indy. Plus the road course at Daytona doesn’t really have but 2 passing sections and the road course part is narrow.

  14. No street circuits please, if they want a second US Grand Prix then they should try going back to Indianapolis.

  15. It’s difficult to be a world sport when the whole world is in shambles.

  16. It does not matter how many races there will be at any continent. Spectators need to come to the circuits. Now the cars are so fast that many of the circuits don’t fit anymore. Overtaking is too difficult. Aerodynamics at these speeds prevent drivers to get close to try an overtake. So you get a train like Abu Dabi. Everybody gets bored looking at that. Make the cars a little slower but still better at cornering speeds, adjust the circuits and we do need the howling sounds again.

  17. Liberty, you want an F1 race in New York? Then for the love of God, man, bring back Watkins Glenn!!! It’s newly resurfaced and compliant with FIA regs and a great track. You want a race in Florida? Please, please use Sebring!! Want a race in California? I would say Laguna Seca, and as great as it would be to see F1 cars down the Corkscrew…savor that thought…I think it’s probably too short, so I would recommend Thunderhill, though I admit I don’t know much about that track. Bottom line, there are some great tracks in the US, like the Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama (beautiful track with a GREAT museum on site), or even the Daytona road course; hell bring back the Indy raod course. Whatever you do, don’t force a poorly designed street course on any city just to get cheeks on seats.

    1. Watkins Glen is one of the 5 best tracks in North America, but it is in the middle of absolute nowhere- 2 1/2 hours from Buffalo and 4 hours from New York City and Philadelphia. And there are no trains there- buses operate to nearby Elmira and Ithaca but even those towns are 20 miles away from the track. And there is very little in the way of hotel accommodations there- as it stands now they would have to invest significantly in building hotels that in the long run they would only lose money operating anyway. And the track currently lacks safety; I go there once a year for the 6 Hours IMSA race or the IndyCar race and every time I am there it always seems amazing to me that the track is not made safer in some places where it sorely needs it (like at the Esses or at Turn 6).

  18. From the Miami Herald: “ ‘It’s like the Super Bowl of auto racing,’ said director Vicente Betancourt, Miami’s film and culture administrator.”
    Well, it appears that Mr Betancourt has been receiving the hard-sell from Carey and Bratches.

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