New Jersey just got racy. Governor Chris Christie formally announced Tuesday that London-based Formula 1 will hold a Grand Prix car race along the New Jersey side of the Hudson in June 2013.
The 3.2 mile course will run along the Hudson River, through Weehawken and West New York, speeding along the edge of the Palisades with the skyline of Manhattan as a backdrop. It will use existing roads.
"These races will showcase Weehawken and West New York, as well as our state and region, to an international audience, while strengthening both the local and regional economies," Christie said. "The three day event will bring very positive economic activity to the region, while giving fans of the sport in our region and around the world an exciting, new venue to experience Formula 1 racing."
Christie was joined by race officials, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and West New York Mayor Felix Roque, as well as others, at the Port Imperial ferry terminal in Weehawken, N.J. on Tuesday.
Race officials expect more than 100,000 people to attend the three-day race weekend. Formula 1 is currently awaiting a formal economic impact study.
The two New Jersey mayors whose towns will serve as the backdrop for the race said in a joint statement that "the investor group has assured us that the financial benefits from the privilege of having these races in our towns are equitably shared and no government subsidies will be used."
Until now, Weehawken had mainly been known as the place Alexander Hamilton went to be shot to death in a duel with Aaron Burr. Now, it will be associated with low-slung, open-wheeled cars racing at an average speed of 185 miles per hour.
Formula 1 holds 19 races a year around the world. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the sport’s race-sanctioning body, said it is “the number one sport worldwide in revenue produced per event, and attracts an audience of 600 million people in 188 counties annually.”
The sport has long had its eye on the New York market. Several plans have been floated over the years, including one in the late 1990s for the south shore of Staten Island that called for tens of thousands of spectators to arrive by ferry. Another proposal would’ve held the race on a mothballed navy base at the other end of the borough. That plan was shot down by residential neighbors fearful of ear-splitting noise from the racing machines.
The U.S. hasn't held a Formula One race since 2007 in Indianapolis. A race is also scheduled for Austin, Texas, in 2012.
Note to drivers who find themselves waiting in line at the mouth of the nearby Lincoln Tunnel to Manhattan in June 2013: if the driver next to you is wearing a helmet and steering an open cockpit vehicle, he has strayed from the nearby racecourse and, given the normally sluggish speed of traffic in New Jersey, will not win.
With the Associated Press