Weehawken Gets Racy: Formula 1 Coming to New Jersey

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(New York, NY - WNYC) Weehawken, New Jersey, just got racy. Governor Chris Christie has announced a deal with the London-based Formula 1 racing circuit to hold a Grand Prix event around a 3.2 mile route laid out on local roads in June 2013. Over part of the course, the cars will speed along the edge of the Palisades overlooking the Hudson River with the skyline of Manhattan in the background.

Race organizers said, "100,000 people are expected to attend each race, starting with practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday, and racing on Sunday." They also touted the site's access by PATH train and other forms of mass transit. Local officials said in a statement that no government subsidies were used to land the race, which they estimate will bring "several hundred million dollars to the region annually."

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, says 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.

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.