It was a warm sunny day in London. I took my laptop checked the presentation, and walked out the door of my home to Bernie Ecclestone’s office around the corner. Bernie had informed me he did not have much time but he would meet to look at what I had to present. This was 2006.
As I waited for Bernie in his office I looked at his art collection in particular the a sculpture of a stack of US dollars. When Bernie arrived I commented to him “Bernie I should take that with me it’s devalued considerably”, to which Ecclestone commented “I don’t have much time let’s see what you have got”.
What I had come to talk to Ecclestone about was building a Formula 1 circuit in California, near Palm Springs. Ecclestone was trying to grasp at the idea, while I made my pitch showed him what the circuit would look like, how the demographic’s of the United States where changing with the Latin population base growing, the proximity to Hollywood, luxury hotels all around and private airports galore that it was time and what would it take.
The response was straight from Bernie. It would take $30 million in a fee, 100% of all advertising and 100% of the concession. “Bernie”, I said, “You ever heard of that song ‘I shot the Sheriff but I did not shoot the deputy”, no Ecclestone had not heard of the song and I informed him that I would now have to go tell the person who actually shot the Sheriff this news.
I’ve dealt with Hollywood studio’s and while you know if you’re making a studio movie you’ll get screwed, but this was another level.
Naturally the circuit never happened in the land of sunshine, milk and honey. Life is all about timing. It was not the time.
Now here we are on the verge of a new era, with a circuit in Austin, Texas Circuit of the Americas, in 2013 one in New Jersey and Bernie himself now wants to see one in California. Ecclestone recently said, “We need to get that New Jersey-New York event working, and maybe one in southern California as well.”
Ecclestone now get’s it. After all NBC Sports has just moved into the game as broadcaster on all platforms from 2013 for five year’s.
The new Circuit of the Americas is already buzzing with visitors, and the likes of George Lucas, Carlos Slim, Ron Howard and many others from Hollywood. Now take a minute and set your mind free, and imagine it in California. Yea, you get it.
California is ready, and it’s ready to rock Formula 1 will this happen now? I’m game.