Pictures: The Current State of the Proposed American Grand Prix in New Jersey.
A little earlier this year I had the good fortune to visit a friend of mine now living in New York City. It was my second time to the Big Apple and my first since the announcement in 2012 that an agreement had been signed with FOM for a Formula 1 Grand Prix to be staged on the streets of West New York and Weehawken, New Jersey, on banks of the Hudson river. This announcement came with much fanfare and promotion which in turn, gave increasing legitimacy to a proposal that many took a “I’ll believe it when I see it” view. Much of the fanfare surrounding the event was provided for by Red Bull Racing, who ran displays on parts of the circuit with David Coulthard and their promotional team, while Sebastian Vettel visited the proposed venue in 2012, driving Infiniti road cars on the closed parts of the layout. Vettel even made an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman who asked the World Champion “That’ll never happen will it?”
Well since 2012 not much has happened at the proposed venue except two annual announcements postponing the event. As you will see from the extensive array of photos I took while at the venue on 21 February 2014, it is impossible for road works to be carried out in the winter. So with summer approaching, now is the time when work should start if there is going to be any hope of the American Grand Prix being ready for next year. But what work needs to be done? Hasn’t the pit complex been built? I wrote an article in September of last year entitled “Folding on the river: Can Formula 1 really afford to bluff New Jersey”, the article outlined the history of the event and stressed the need for Formula 1 to place itself in the face of the North American public even if it meant footing the bill.
With this in mind I took an early ferry out to the Port Imperial station in New Jersey to see the proposed sight and take as many photos as I could of the work that had allegedly been carried out. Upper most in my enquiries was the pit complex that had allegedly been built for the race to be run in 2013. I have seen very few detailed images of this part of the complex which exists directly behind the Port Imperial ferry terminal. So here’s a close look at the state of the proposed circuit earlier this year.
View of the first and second turn in the first photo. The second photo shows the third corner in the background while the third photo shows the straight across Port Imperial Boulevard leading into turn four.
These photos show turn four and the climb up the hill towards turn five. The third photo shows the nature of the drop that exists to the side of the road on the climb up the hill.
The chicane at the top of the hill from multiple angles.
These photos show the run across J F Kennedy Boulevard from which the Manhattan skyline can be seen on a clear day.
These photos show the run across the skyline leading down to the right hand turn 12 in the background of the third photo.
These photos show the apex and exit of turn 12 and the run down the hill at turn 13. There is adequate room for barriers to be installed on either side of the road.
These photos show the run down the hill from turn 12. The second and third photos are looking backwards along the track.
The first and second photos look down the straight towards the double-apex hairpin turn 14 and 15 which leads the drivers back on to Port Imperial Boulevard. The final photo looks back up the circuit from the entrance to the hairpin.
The first photo looks backwards up the circuit from the outside of turn 14. The second photo shows turns 14 and 15 from Port Imperial Boulevard while the third photo shows the views cars will have as they blast back towards the final complex of corners at the completion of the lap.
These photos show the back straight along Port Imperial Boulevard through the flat-out turns 16 and 17. The first photo views backwards down the track towards turn 15.
Turn 18 at the end of the Port Imperial Boulevard. The first photo shows the turns apex on the left, the second is taken from the outside of the turn looking back towards turn 17, while the third photo views backwards with turn18’s apex on the right.
These photos show the approach, apex and exit of turn 19. As can be seen in the third photo, the right side of the circuit is currently occupied by an open-air car park. The rumoured pit complex can be seen in the background on the right side of the final photo.
The Pit Complex?
These photos depict the interior of the building that has been suggested by some as being capable of functioning as a pit complex for the Formula 1 teams on the proposed Port Imperial street circuit. The first photo shows that there are rather large spaces present inside the building. However, as the second photo shows, this is not the case with all of the spaces as some have false floors, the second photo depicts exposed piping being clearly present. The difficulties of the building continue as shown by the presence of sliding doors rather than roller doors. The sliding doors would surely further limit the openings that would be available to accommodate two Grand Prix cars.
I took the first photo to show the bizarre appearance of the glass folding doors being present across one of the exposed concrete pillars of the facility. This does appear to show that there is, or was, another intention for this building that enabled the front to be opened up as a whole, much in the way a pit garage would be. It is intriguing why the bottom floor of the building isn’t divided into individual shop fronts. The second photo shows the extent of the space present in parts of the proposed pit complex building but what can also be seen is the presence of fixed swinging doors in the foreground and the extent of work carried out on the footpath in front of the building. It is very difficult to determine what the purpose of the building is in the manner in which it is laid out. The final photo shows the carpark entrance which exists in the centre of the building, an entrance that were the building to have been intended for a pit complex, would have better served Formula 1 by being at the same level as the rest of the interior of the complex. The car park entrance goes down into the interior of the building. The background to the photo shows the recently laid footpath that exists in front of the sliding doors, footpaths that would have to be removed or greatly altered in the event Formula 1 cars were expected to enter and exit the complex.
The first two photos show the contrasting interiors that exist within the building, some with floors that are below street level with exposed piping clearly visible. The second photo provides another interior shot of the building, focusing on the presence of rear exits to the facility through sunken rear doors. There are not eleven of these exits in the building. Finally, this photo shows that the buildings current owners are renting retail space in the complex. Were these spaces to be leased, it further reduces the capacity of the building to accommodate all the competing Formula 1 teams.
Having visited the proposed lay out for the American Grand Prix it is with great disappointment to see what has been a highly publicised venture on what would be an incredible circuit, currently be in a state that has seemingly no chance of being anywhere capable of staging a Grand Prix within a year. What is the most concerning is that a building, touted as being capable of housing the pit facilities for a street circuit, being constructed in a fashion that shows little intention to do so. Such is the nature of construction, it leaves me with many questions including; Was there ever any intention for this to be the site of a Formula 1 Grand Prix and was this all an elaborate publicity stunt? Alternatively, is the bizarre lay out of the complex attributable to the exorbitant demands of Formula 1’s organisers? Was the Port Imperial complex initially constructed for Formula 1 but since altered in order to salvage a commercial profit from it’s construction? As with modern Formula 1 venues around the world that have been left dormant only a few years after staging their debut Grand Prix, has Formula 1 once again left it mark on a city’s landscape with another expensive and useless facility?
At the time of writing this article there has been no further announcement on whether the American Grand Prix proposal has been abandoned, it still remains on the periphery of possible future events. Were it to be announced as an event, the need to either alter freshly constructed elements of the proposed pit complex or alternatively, to construct another multi-purpose venue in the carpark to its left, would be both wasteful and costly.
I certainly hope the impression I have gathered from my visit is wrong. I hope the race finds a way to go ahead and that the alleged pit complex has tricks in its construction that I can not see. In the unlikely event that the race is announced for 2015 I’ll be the first person looking for time off work, but only once construction takes place at the site, would I even think of buying an airfare.
Any comments on your experiences viewing the proposed American Grand Prix site in New Jersey are welcomed. Should anyone living in the New York/New Jersey area notice the commencement of construction, please make it known to Racefans. Until next time, all the best.