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New F1 chairman Carey keen to develop fan base in America

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New Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey is keen to capitalize on the opportunity the series has in American and develop its American fan base in the long-term.

Liberty Media Corporation confirmed earlier this week that it would be acquiring F1 in a deal worth $8 billion, subject to approval from all third parties.

Liberty announced that 21st Century Fox vice-chairman Carey would be taking over as chairman of F1, working alongside CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

The arrival of an American company in the management of the sport led to speculation that there may be additional F1 races in the United States to bolster the series’ presence.

Carey and Ecclestone spoke with reporters on Thursday about the opportunities that lie in the United States, a market F1 has enjoyed a mixed relationship with for much of its history.

When asked if Liberty would work to crack the US market, Ecclestone said: “I hope they do, I really do.

“I’ve been knocking doors there for an awful long time.”

Carey spoke widely about the opportunities presented in the United States, but hastened to add that F1 needed to protect its European roots.

“I want it to be made clear we didn’t make this move because of America,” Carey said.

“America’s an opportunity. I think we can do a lot more in America. It’s probably more long-term than short-term.

“It will take time to build the audience, but there’s a much more passionate fan base than anyone recognizes in America. I think we can do a lot to develop that.

“Realistically it’s a global sport. We’re not trying to Americanize the sport. I think we have great respect for the European foundations of it. Europe is critically important to us, to build on that, opportunities to grow it.

“Certainly, the US is a big opportunity long-term, but this isn’t an American company Americanizing the sport. This is a great global sport, a great franchise, and it’s one we’re going to continue to build with the things Bernie’s built over the decades.

“It is an evolution. This a great sport with great brands, great franchises, great stars, great technology. We want to make it everything it can be and continue to build it and work with Bernie to make it bigger and better.”

Ecclestone and Carey were asked about their respective roles, with some observers believing there is a need for F1 to have a single leader.

“We’re dictators,” Ecclestone joked when reminded of former Renault F1 chief Flavio Briatore’s belief that the sport needed a dictator.

“We’re going to work together,” Carey added.

“The best businesses are partnerships. We’ll work together as a team and that’s my goal, to work together as a team.”

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?