When you think of Formula One, You think of the great racing countries like Italy, Germany and Great Britain. Each has a rich history, and each is a staple of Formula One and of racing in general. In the United States; however, the rich history just is not present.
In fact, the sport has never been very popular here. Take, for example the 1990 US Grand Prix in Phoenix. On the same day, there was an ostrich race in the nearby suburb of Chandler. According to the Prescott Courier, the Grand Prix was heavily outdrawn by the ostrich race, which attracted 75,000 fans.
Since those bleak days in the early 90’s, things appear to have taken a turn for the better. The new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas is the very first purpose-built Formula One racetrack in the United States. Not since Watkins Glen in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s has Formula One had a permanent home in the United States. With the Circuit of the Americas, that appears to have changed.
An estimated 265,000 spectators were in attendance at Formula One’s first year at the $400 million racing complex. The high attendance rate is encouraging for the young venue. However, in a country whose racing scene is already dominated by NASCAR, one may come to the conclusion that the barrier to entry for a racing sport in the United States is still quite high.
Quite the contrary.
Jon Miller, President of Programming at NBC Sports called the sport a “very attractive property,” citing the broadcast of the Monaco Grand Prix as evidence. The race took place at 7 a.m. on May 26th and still managed to attract more U.S. viewers than any other F1 race in the last 6 years. The potential is there; all that’s left is attracting new fans.
Though pulling fans of NASCAR over to Formula One seems it would be an obvious strategy, the fact of the matter is that the two sports attract totally different audiences. F1 fans tend to be highly affluent individuals, and rightfully so. According to Best Tickets US Grand Prix tickets range in price from $202 to $6,436 for the final day of the event with an average price of $761. Parking alone costs as much as $202. Compare that to the next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, which has tickets ranging from $41 to $103 and an average price of $56, and it’s not even close.
The US grand Prix starts on Nov. 15th. If you can’t afford the hefty price tag, be sure to tune in and watch it from home. Lewis Hamilton, the winner of last year’s iteration of the race called it “one of the best, if the best Grand Prix” of the season. By the looks of things, there are many more great races to come.