The international head of Formula One is once again casting doubt on whether New Jersey will host its first race next year, but local event organizers say nothing has changed, and that preparations for the race are still "precisely on schedule."
A spokesman for Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial, the promoter of the New Jersey race, said today the group is "still on track for a June 2013 race." That includes "course engineering and construction (that is) progressing precisely on schedule."
Bernie Ecclestone, the commercial chief of Formula One, is questioning the race's timeline for the second time in as many months. In a May 30 story on ESPNF1.com, Ecclestone said contractual and financial issues were raising doubts about whether the New Jersey organizers would be ready by next year.
The spokesman for the organizers, Stephen Sigmund, said, "We don't comment on our contractual relationship with Formula One or its details." But he also rejected the notion that the race would be delayed until 2014.
That was echoed today by Carl Goldberg, managing partner of Roseland Property Co., which owns a large part of the land that will host the three-mile race in West New York and Weehawken. He said the firm has "heard nothing to suggest that there's going to be a delay from any of the American promoters," adding that there is "a significant amount of time and money being invested, all pointed to a first race in 2013."
Goldberg also voiced frustration about Ecclestone's comments, saying they were "disconcerting" to hear when several parties were investing money, time and manpower to prepare the site by next year.
"It's distracting for someone who appears to be outside the process to suggest that the schedule that we're all working toward is not a real schedule," he said. "I think it's really inappropriate for him to suggest anything other than June 2013, not being here and on the ground and part of the planning that's going to execute this event here in New Jersey."
The race course will be laid out in waterfront areas of the two Hudson County towns, largely in Roseland's Port Imperial development. As part of the preparation, Roseland is building a parking garage that will ultimately serve commuters. But for the race, the upper levels of the garage will be temporarily converted into hospitality suites for top-tier ticket holders.
The event is expected to be the start of a 10-year program for Grand Prix races at the site, which will have the Manhattan skyline as its backdrop. The race is being spearheaded by Leo Hindery Jr., a former YES Network executive.