With all of the rumors going around about an F1 return to Indianapolis, many fans are left wondering "What exactly is the problem holding all of this up?" America is a huge market for all manufacturers involved in Formula 1, and the American F1 fanbase has ballooned considerably in the past few years alone. As a spectator of the 2007 United States Grand Prix, I must say that the crowd was much larger than in previous years.
The difficulty in the F1 return to the States is, as always, the money. Tony George has already stated that he needs a title sponsor if the USGP is to happen again at Indianapolis. Additionally, Tony already has enough on his plate with the new unified Indycar series, trying to sort out a 2009 schedule, bring in new manufacturers, and develop a new (hopefully better looking) car for 2010.
With the Champ Car-IRL merger and the increasing F1fanbase, why hasn't anyone thought of an event that could bring open wheel back to the forefront of American auto racing? Why not have an open wheel double header, with the IRL and Formula 1 racing at the same track on the same weekend? An "Open Wheel Speedweek" at the most legendary of all venues, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, would draw both the substantial mid-west Indycar fanbase, as well as the international F1 crowd. Both series would race on the newly reconfigured IMS roadcourse, which will host it's first race, MotoGP, on September 24 this year.
The weekend would consist of the IRL racing Saturday evening, and F1 on Sunday. And why not bring in some A1GP cars or dust off some IROC cars and have an inter-series exhibition race on saturday afternoon? A modern day Race of Two Worlds? Imigine Helio, Massa, Kannan, Hamilton and Danica in a shoot out for bragging rights. Both series can also be easily accommodated inside IMS at the same time, since F1 uses the Pit-side garages, and IRL uses the garages of Gasoline Alley.
Many fans would pay double to see the IRL on Saturday and F1 on Sunday, and both series would benefit. The IRL would get more European exposure to fans and sponsors, and F1 would get the same from Americans.
What a weekend that would be.....