FORMULA ONE OUT OF UNITED STATES
Bernie Ecclestone, the richest man in England, has picked up his marbles and left the game. The writing was on the wall when Indiappolis Motor Speedway said they wanted to nogotciate a new contract. Bernie's response was, "no nogotciation, 20 million dollars." It is not the first time we have been through this with Uncle Bernie. He runs his Formula One circus with an iron fist.
I like Formula One and was very disappointed when they left Detroit many years ago. That, too, was under a cloud. Detroiters felt that the drivers were too fussy, not friendly enough, etc. But with Bernie it all boiled down to money. Some of the drivers feel the the United States should have three races. East, West and somewhere in the middle.
If you remember that over the years cigarette money played a big part in racing. After 2006 they were not supposed to advertise on the cars in Europe, the U.S. and Canada. A couple of countries tried to take a jump and do it in 2005 and Bernie just took the races away from them. I think Canada worked out a deal to get back on the schedule and the other country lost out. Notice what he has done lately, new tracks, new venues. All in the Middle East and Asia. No cigarette laws there, by golly. As each new track comes up he lops off a European one and now the U.S. Someone in Cyprus, which usually runs a World Rally, drew up plans to have Formula One here. Government rejected it, why I don't know. Probably because it wasn't their idea. I don't think Bernie would have taken it any way because since that time Cyprus has joined the European Union. No cigarettes. I doubt that Malaysia, Bahrain, Turkey, Japan, China or Brazil have a ban and the next new one Ahbudabi won't either. As for me, I still love Formula One.
Below is a letter to Bernie from Terry Blount at ESPN. It just about sums up the American thought:
Bernie Ecclestone has taken his ball and gone home.
The spoiled-brat boss of Formula One no longer cares to play in Indianapolis (or anywhere else in the good old US of A, apparently), so he has stormed off and taken his precious toy with him.
Formula One and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced Thursday that the U.S. Grand Prix was history after a rocky eight-year marriage.
Well Bernie, don't let Uncle Sam's door hit you on the way out.
You moaned and complained from Day 1 of your deal at Indy, despite the fact that IMS owner Tony George spent $50 million to spruce up the place to your liking.
And what did you give us in return, Bernie? A ridiculous six-car race in 2005 when you and your cronies couldn't reach a reasonable solution to a tire problem and run an actual event.
And that came three years after the Ferrari boys decided to stage the finish of the race, coasting to the finish line when Michael Schumacher deliberately let teammate Rubens Barrichello pass him for the victory -- if you can call it that.
And let's not leave out one special moment off the track. You remember, don't you, Bernie? The time when you compared our own Danica Patrick to a domestic appliance.
Ahh, the memories.
But the good people who love racing still came to every U.S. Grand Prix, close to 100,000 of them last month when rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton (the good Brit among the two of you) made history as the first black winner of any racing event at the Brickyard.
It's one of the best crowds your highbrow series sees all year, but that just wasn't good enough for you Bern, was it?
You wanted more, lots more. We're talking cash, reportedly more than $15 million a year for your high-pitch machines to continue racing at the shrine of American motorsports.
Not that the history of the place means diddly-squat to you, Bernie. You said IMS doesn't do enough to promote the race. You also said last month that F1 doesn't need an American race.
No doubt that's true, Bernie. You're richer than the queen now, so a big pile of U.S. greenbacks won't change your life.
But let's be honest, Bernie. The "we don't need you" talk clearly was negotiating rhetoric, which is your forte. But you miscalculated this one, old chap. Folks in these parts don't take kindly to threats.
You see Bernie, it's like this. America doesn't need F1, either. Us Yanks will do just fine without it.
Sure, plenty of F1 fans here would love to have one of your events somewhere in the 50 states.
Truthfully Bernie, you've got a hell of a product. You do a lot of things right. The technology and the super-sleek look of those cars are worth drooling over. And some of the drivers rank among the most skilled wheel-turners in the world.
It's the best of the best in many ways, a pleasing clinic to the eyes for road-racing excellence.
But your show does have some flaws, Bernie. For one thing, more than 80 percent of the starting grid has zero chance of winning a race.
Parity, it ain't.
And you greatly overestimated how much interest Americans would have in fellow countryman Scott Speed. Nice name and all, but running near the back at every race (in one of the cars that we mentioned can't win) isn't going to excite the masses on this side of the pond.
But you sure can give us some intrigue. NASCAR only has cheating. F1, on the other hand, has industrial espionage.
We realize you would prefer to describe it that way. We just call it spying.
Whatever you call it, this little scandal is the talk of the racing world these days. Ferrari fired an engineer who is accused of supplying team secrets to the rival McLaren team, 780 pages worth, to be exact.
It even went to a London court this week. Perfect. The secret agent of F1 in the land of James Bond. Maybe Sean Connery will volunteer as an arbitrator.
Yes Bernie, your league sure can stir things up, but you decided America isn't worthy of turning the crank.
So Bernie, go ahead and stomp off to other locales, places that gladly will genuflect and pay the ransom you desire.
We won't keep the light on for ya.