Circuit of The Americas chairman Bobby Epstein believes motorcycles could race during a Formula 1 weekend as the United States Grand Prix closes in on crowd numbers of half a million.
This year’s race is forecast to have 440,000 people attend the event at COTA, up from 400,000 last year. The venue has the ability to host even more and could be the first of the current calendar to hit the half-million spectator mark across a race weekend, and Epstein says there are some exciting concepts being considered when planning for the future, including the idea of pairing F1 with MotoGP being suggested to both Dorna and the FIA.
“Two or three support series would be good,” Epstein said. “It would be great – if it can’t be an F2 or F3 – I think we can get creative. I’d love to see the motorcycles race during F1 weekend. I think it would be a lot of fun, and I think the fans would like it, so we’re exploring that.
“I think there’s ways to look at it. I think it would be interesting. I think there are a lot of creative ideas for support races thrown out there, I give you that as one. You could have an Uber race, a Lyft and a New York Taxi. It’s on the table. Get an LA cab, and a New York and Chicago cabbie and an Uber and a Lyft and we’ll see if that is fun.
“This is what it’s about, let’s make sure that we entertain the crowd, but I don’t want to leave the racing fan out either. So what you’re speaking to is the right question and making sure we have the content that satisfies that audience. I think there was some disappointment that the W Series didn’t come, but it was such short notice you couldn’t really replace it. But I do think overall the fans still get their money’s worth.
“It doesn’t have to be MotoGP, it could be bikes. Which would be good for MotoGP, because it would give them a nice platform. Just other types of racing. In the past F1 if you go back they’ve done some great celebrity races. That’s something we’ve got to consider. It could be fun, I think F1 has the celebrity draw and celebrity appeal and it hasn’t been done in a while. These are all worth discussing. If Formula 3 comes or Formula 2 comes that’s probably even better.”
And Epstein says the United States Grand Prix could exceed 500,000 spectators in the near future but that he is keen to ensure the infrastructure can support such a crowd even if there’s the capacity available at the track.
“We can get there. We’re testing our bus system this year. It’s a lot more robust. You go from 300 buses to 600, and if that works and the load times are possible, then this is really the litmus test for it. We’ve got to convert to mass transit, and if that works, then we can grow. So it could be next year. I mean, the second question should be is the demand there for the tickets.
“Right now, there is. This year there would have been, I hope it’s the same next year. I see no reason if we deliver a good experience this year why it won’t be. But I don’t think it should be about necessarily getting to 500, but carefully growing to make sure we can still handle the crowd.
“We made other changes in food service this year. This is what we do, we don’t drive the cars, we don’t have anything to do with the quality of the racing. All we can do is worry about your parking, your food, your rest rooms and your fun, and the entertainment. And that’s what we focus on.”