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Austin could be big for USGP, insists sponsorship guru

The USGP is a vital addition for the F1 fraternity, but is Austin the right place for the race?
Despite initial scepticism, Austin could prove to be a surprising success for F1 as it once again attempts to rebuild its reputation in the United States.

That is the view of Steve Madincea, owner of one of F1's largest sponsorship agencies, who, having admitted that the Texan state capital would not have been an obvious choice of venue, believes that it could be a real boost to the sport's hopes of establishing itself in the largest car market it has so far failed to crack on a regular basis.

There has been no USGP since 2007, when the circus last rolled up at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and F1 has yet to anchor successfully anywhere since breaking ties with Long Beach and Detroit in the 1980s and meandering through the likes of Dallas, Las Vegas and Phoenix in the meantime.

"It's unique," Madincea told 422race.com when asked about the choice of Austin as venue, "Maybe it wouldn't have been my first choice, but the more I [think about] it, the more I see it's a clever choice for Austin and for Texas.

"It's a city on the rise, which could use some international recognition that F1 can bring, and which could really embrace F1 and get behind the programme, like the old Adelaide or Montreal. For my experience of F1, I would have liked Miami, because it's more international and it's the national stepping stone to Central and South America, but that's because I was ignorant - rather than negative - about Austin.

"If it's possible to raise up one event in Austin, then it would be extremely powerful, and stop the current negative slide of F1 in America. We got too many punches to the body with F1 and it's time to get something positive. I think that [the Michelin tyre farce at Indianapolis in 2005] was the beginning of the slide, then Scott Speed didn't work out as a driver for whatever reason, [and] the new [USF1 and Cypher Group] teams didn't make it for whatever reasons. So F1 kept giving these punches to America and it didn't look good. That's why I'm very excited about Austin, because that's something really positive."

Despite accepting the reasons for Bernie Ecclestone's apparent pursuit of a race in New York - where several potential venues, such as Monticello Motor Club and Liberty Park, were rumoured - Madincea claims that 'an emerging city' such as Austin has awakened interest that may have lain dormant since the end of the Indianapolis era.

"I think that [New York]'s the dream, the Holy Grail, to be from one coast to the other, and the first response [to Austin] was scepticism," he accepted, "Who is this [Tavo Hellmund] guy? Why Austin? The city is known, but not like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, big cities.

"But the USA is changing and there are some up-and-coming rising cities, such as Austin, where there are big organisations like Dell. It's definitely emerging [and], after the scepticism, I think came optimism. Now I get calls from people asking me how do I get tickets, how do I get involved, how can I be a sponsor... For me, the scepticism is turning to optimism, without question."

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Simon - Unregistered

January 06, 2011 9:28 PM

Taz is right - F1 does need the US and all the players involved have stated so repeatedly. Hard to be a truely global series when it ignores the biggest car market in the world and I imagine probably the biggest number of auto racing fans in the world (just a guess but NASCAR, Indy etc...) Theyank is totally right, Watkins Glen was a wonderful circuit. There are plenty of F1 fans in the country (just take a look at how many of us trek north to Montreal each year) and Austin is certainly a high profile city in US if not internationally. A great choice and I'll be booking my tickets as soon as I can.

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