There it was, right in front of my eyes, the latest post on a motorsport forum, made in a thread with a title I just couldn't believe: "American F1 Team in 2010? No Joke!"
From there, the Team US F1 project (then called USF1, and later USGPE) took off, with an official announcement on February 24, and a confirmed position on the 2010 entry list on June 12.
The Charlotte-based squad, run by current Formula 1 broadcaster and journalist Peter Windsor and former IndyCar-designed Ken Anderson, looked promising. After years of mutual disinterest, the world's largest motorsport will be united with the world's largest marketplace in a relationship never seen before.
Assuming, of course, the American team can place a car on the grid.
Ten months after the initial rumors, some are voicing concerns regarding Team US F1's prospective entry. Even Formula 1 czars Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley (who visited the underwhelming team headquarters recently, and will check in again next month) doubt that the team will be on the grid next year.
It's hard to blame them for their suspicions.
The project, which began when Windsor and Anderson met in the 80s, and started its life as a planned IRL IndyCar Series team in the middle portion of the next decade, seems to be all talk and little substance. Other than an investment from YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, US F1 have not had much to announce.
It started with two US American drivers, changed to just one, and has now become zero. Ken and Peter certainly seemed to be on entirely different pages, mentioning a different assortment of drivers whenever they were questioned about their intended lineup.
Most notably, the two talked up IndyCar star Danica Patrick, trying to create press when they had no intentions of ever signing the female driver. Others included AJ Allmendinger, Scott Speed, and Juan Pablo Montoya.
None were actually contacted by the American operation.
More importantly, the team (which joined under the assumption the FIA would enforce a spending limit of roughly $64,000,000) that promised to compete "budget cap or not" and told the media they wouldn't need sponsors has suddenly become desperate to sign GP2 mid-fielders with large amounts of funding.
It certainly appears that the American entrant realize that the magical money that was never actually there, was, well, never actually there.
Team US F1 planned to be "lean and mean," and they certainly got the lean part down, having employed a number of people so few that they cannot even create a working website (the current one still refers to the team as USGPE, a moniker they dropped after their position on the grid was solidified in June).
Peter Windsor, who resigned from his duties of conducting post-race interviews for the FOM feed due to a conflict of interest, has returned to that role, a move that appears to be quite telling.
Perhaps the "Made in America" F1 project wasn't a joke, like that thread proclaimed.
It might have just been an impossibility.