Yes, it’s true. Unsigned, confirmed and completely official, the 2007 US F1 Grand Prix was the last time Formula One will be at the Brickyard at Indianapolis, unless there is some sort of miracle. Bernie Ecclestone and Tony George have failed to come to terms to extend the contract. They have been talking for some time, but speculation is that the fees Bernie is asking for are to the point where Tony George cannot make money out of the race, and after all the Speedway only survives because it makes money.
Lets face it, Tony George is an astute operator. I haven’t talked to him for a number of years, in fact since he was racing Formula Atlantic many years ago in New Zealand, making the annual trip to race for Dave McMillans team, usually alongside wildman, and friend of Tony’s, Stuart Crow. Back in those days Tony was easy to talk to, and pretty laid back, but at the same time he had an air of confidence, and firmness around him. I can only imagine him and Bernie negotiating, it would be something to sit in I am sure.
Both men are hugely successful, and both are no-nonsense kind of guys. I am sure there was no begging on anyones part, it was a simple case of supply and demand, with Bernie asking for so much according to what other crazy governments out there are willing to pay, and Tony being able to pay so much, needing to make a profit, and neither moving.
The interesting thing about this whole affair is that suddenly Indianapolis has gained a round of the Moto GP championship. None is sure right now if it will replace the Laguna Seca round or not, but it is interesting to know that Moto GP was owned by the same group that now controls Formula One. Could this have been some sort of consolation prize, just to keep Indianapolis in the fold. I am sure we will find out in the years to come.
Meanwhile there is talk of another venue taking on F1 in the US, but with cities and venues being able to get many other great sporting events, at a fraction of the price of F1 it is unlikely. Las Vegas has been mentioned, but only half heartedly. Champcar visited Las Vegas earlier in th year, racing on a new downtown circuit. The event was successful, but hardly and F1 size or styled event. Steve Wynn has also being mentioned as a possible promoter, or venue provider, as an event for his Wynn resort and hotel in Las Vagas. he has the money, and a possible venue with the right infrastructure (imagine the whole of F1 staying in one hotel, just amazing!), but if Tony George cannot make money out of F1 as someone whose business is racing, I would doubt that Steve Wynn would think he could do it, but then you never know, and you can never say never.