The Circuit of the Americas, home of the USGP, looks to be shaping up to be a world class facility, housing its own trauma center, educational centers, conference centers, and concert venue to name a few, but one thing that may be missing from the USGP itself is an American Presence within the paddock. Not to take away from the event at all, die-hard F1 fans would flock to Austin for this race even if all the drivers and teams where from the Isle of Guam, but as it is at the moment, there is no American Team or Driver in the sport, and as sweet as it is to have the USGP back it would be nice to see this change.
The latest hope for US F1 fans was Scott Speed, who drove for the Red Bull Toro Rosso Team in 2006 and part of 2007 before being replaced by Sebastian Vettel, which in retrospect was definitely a good move for the Red Bull Team as a whole, though it would have been nice to see Speed stay around in a role as test driver until a seat opened up. Speed moved onto Nascar leaving a gap that was last filled by Mario Andretti in 1993.
Ken Block’s plans to test Pirelli’s Formula 1 car at Monza in August have hit an early hurdle after it was discovered he was too tall to fit into the car. Most of us know Block from the American WRC and as a world-class driver in the Gymkhana world, but can this rally racer go from snow, dirt, gravel, and yes admittedly some asphalt sections to an F1 Team, who knows Kimi Raikkonen did the opposite, going from world championship driver for Ferrari in 2007 to making his WRC debut in 2009.
Then there was the heartbreak of 2010 when a US F1 Team, headed by former Haas CNC Racing Technical Director, Ken Anderson and former Williams and Ferrari Manager, Peter Windsor, was granted entry into that season by the FIA, but was later debunked when the team lost financial support and had to inform the FIA it was in no position to race and was removed from the entry list for that season.
With the US site beginning to take shape, the turns know marked by numbered positioning flags, an odd incantation of a dirt laden golf course, being roved by construction machinery, the FIA and Formula 1 chief, Bernie Ecclestone, must feel the need for not only a US race, but a US presence on the track. The race should bring in money, an estimated 400 million per year, but will the US fans return year after year without a US driver or team, that remains to be seen. But with the attention that the first Austin GP should draw, new fans, future fans of the series more importantly, may be more likely to keep watching and keep buying tickets if the USA was represented not only with a track, but on the track.