Bernie Ecclestone discussing the possible return of the Long Beach Grand Prix to F1 may have been no more than an elbow in the ribs to race organisers In New Jersey [ see separate story
], but the story has taken a twist as one of his 'collaborators' has now been named as the latest member of the latter's line-up.
Chris Pook, the man who founded the race around the streets of Long Beach back in the 1970s, has been confirmed as 'special assistant' to Grand Prix of America chairman Leo Hindery, with immediate effect.
Pook, who brings decades of experience developing motorsport venues and events in the USA, joins an established executive team including Hindery, sports and entertainment veteran Dennis Robinson and sports marketing and corporate development specialist Dick Goldschmidt, and will be expected to bring his knowledge to bear on all aspects of construction, planning and execution of the New Jersey project.
"The F1 Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial just gained another invaluable team member who will ensure the race will be like nothing the region has ever witnessed," Hindery claimed, "Chris is a leader with decades of experience in American motorsports. We are delighted to add someone with his accomplishments and level of expertise to the Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial team."
Pook's resumé not only includes the founding and management of the successful USA Grand Prix West - the first F1 street circuit in the United States – in Long Beach, but also helped develop other races around the country, including those in Detroit, Las Vegas, Dallas, St Louis, Denver and St Petersburg. Pook is a former CEO of now defunct Champ Car overseer CART, from whom many of his events were created.
Perhaps even more than returning to California, the New York region is the one area Ecclestone has been keen to crack since F1 left Watkins Glen after the 1980 season, and he is delighted to see one of his closest allies in the US installed as part of the Port Imperial team.
"I am happy to be working with Chris again after some 20 years,” the octogenarian noted, “Chris has a history of great success in F1, which I'm confident he'll bring to the Grand Prix of America race. We look forward to working with him to bring F1 racing to New Jersey and New York."
The inaugural Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial had been planned as part of a double-header with this year's Canadian Grand Prix, but had to be postponed due to a combination of red tape and financial reasons. Having been granted a twelve-month stay of execution, the race is now planned to kick off in June 2014.
The grand prix, which receives no subsidies from either local or state government, will use a 3.2-mile course using existing streets in Weehawken and West New York areas of New Jersey, with the New York City skyline as the backdrop.