The Formula One race set for Weehawken, New Jersey, in June will take place as scheduled, and all outstanding contract obligations, including safety and facility reviews, will be met, said event promoter Leo Hindery.
The Paris-based International Automobile Federation, F-1’s governing body which goes by the French acronym FIA, released its schedule for the 2013 season last week and affixed an asterisk to the June 16 event, saying it was subject to confirmation. Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone said earlier this week that parts of the race contract were unfulfilled, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Hindery, managing partner at InterMedia Partners LP, said the outstanding issues are primarily safety reviews and the inspection of pits, media centers and hospitality buildings that are currently under construction.
“We will be racing,” he said yesterday in an interview. “We don’t have existing, fixed facilities that can be inspected today, so when he says we’re subject to review, we’ll be subject to review until the race date just because of the nature of a street course racing for the first time.”
Race organizers announced last October plans for a 3.2-mile (5-kilometer) track on public roads in the New Jersey towns of Weehawken and West New York, across the Hudson River from Times Square and the New York City skyline. The streets will be cordoned for the entirety of the three-day event, which is estimated to bring in roughly 100,000 spectators and a $100 million boost annually to the local economy.
Ecclestone, who has repeatedly stated his desire for a Formula One race in the New York City area, said event organizers had “run out of time” and that parts of the 10-year contract “went unfulfilled,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
“If they get together with all the provisions, everything will be okay,” he said, according to the newspaper.
Those provisions will be met, Hindery said.
“Every first-year race is problematic until it isn’t,” he said. “We still have a few pieces to put together, but the sport’s now behind us and we’re thrilled to be on the calendar.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last year celebrated the event’s announcement as an example of the state’s ability to attract major sporting events. The 2014 Super Bowl is being held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, 8 miles from the Weehawken waterfront.
Christie called Hindery last week after hearing that the race might be in jeopardy.
“He told me it’s definitely happening, no problem,” Christie said in an Oct. 1 news conference in Dover. “I said if there is one, call me. He said yes and that was the end of the conversation.”
There has not been a Formula One race in the U.S. since 2007, when Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the U.S. Grand Prix. The sport is scheduled to return Nov. 18, at a new $300-million track in Austin, Texas.
Hindery, who declined to say how much has been spent on the New Jersey race, has maintained throughout the planning that no public money would be used.
“We have gotten no subsidies, never will, never will ask for it, don’t believe in it,” he said. “We feel like it’s a privilege to be on those streets and roads.”
Sponsorships, which will be announced later this year, will probably include names from the New York financial world, Hindery said.
The Formula One calendar next season stops in what Hindery called “the major markets of the world,” including Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Barcelona, Spain. He said New York can be a successful addition, citing a growing gap in the auto racing world between the stock car orientation, such as Nascar, and open-wheel disciplines like Formula One.
“The fans aren’t typically the same,” he said. “Are we likely to be as appealing in the Carolinas as Nascar is? No. But we’re going to be more appealing in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.”
-- With assistance from Terrence Dopp in Trenton. Editors: Michael Sillup, Jay Beberman