My Canadian friends were treating the launch of the Formula One season this week as an actual important sporting event — like the Super Bowl — but few Americans seem to care. Why is Formula One so unpopular here?
For the same reason Americans are the best at American football, we're just not great at Formula One driving. It's not because we lack some crucial element of our physiology or character but, just as eight-year-olds are thrust into PeeWee football here, Europeans and South Americans enroll early in karting schools and are drafted for farm league formula racing at an early age. With the exception of Scott Speed and a few others, it's rare an American is sent to somewhere like Formula Renault.
Because there are no Americans to root for and little American automaker support in the series, broadcasting for F1 events has continued to dwindle and has been replaced by NASCAR programming. Because F1 isn't on television but drifting is all over the movies, kids decide they want to be come drifters or extreme rallyers like Ken Block, Travis Pastrana or Vaughn Gitten, Jr. These leaves even less American talent for F1. We're locked in a spiral where F1 continues to lose importance and a series like WRC or Rally America (with a lower cost of entry for American companies) starts to replace it.
Maybe an American F1 team will help. Maybe. Or maybe if they can come up with courses that only allow F1 cars to turn in one direction.
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