F1 drivers: To grow sport in America, there need to be more races

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It’s an idea that has been kicked around more than a time or two: Given the size of the United States and the country’s appetite for racing, would it make sense to run two Grand Prixs in America?

Several Formula 1 drivers believe it would.

“We do have the one race and this is a big, big country with a lot of sporting heritage,” Lewis Hamilton said during this week’s press conference before the United States Grand Prix. “They love intensely-fought games but also have something to look forward to – because there’s a build-up to multiple games. We only have that one race here, so the people, for example in this city or people in the close States that fly over for this one Grand Prix, which happens once a year, it’s like a festival.

“You can’t really get too excited about one festival in a season. So, that’s probably something that Liberty will be working on for the future.”

The creation of Haas F1 has already provided Americans with a home team to back. In their third year of competition, the team is battling the more established Renault for fourth place in the constructors championship and gaining ground.

Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean agrees that more races in America are needed to increase fan participation and interest.

“Well, I think, to me the obviously, answer (to how to grow the sport in America) is to get more races in the US,” Grosjean said. “I think most of the time it’s really hard for the audience to watch the Grand Prixs. It’s the middle of the night. It’s not easy to grow the fan base.”

To go along with the US-based team, an American driver is necessary.

Throughout the history of the sport, there have been a handful of Americans who competed. Mario Andretti was the most prolific. His son Michael Andretti is one of the most recent.

Phil Hill is the only American-born driver to win the drivers championship. But he did that well back in 1961.

Try to get more races here, hopefully one American driver into F1 soon, and that will help,” Fernando Alonso said. “I think it will take a little bit of interest into the sport and have a little bit more unpredictable races is more or less what they have here. To have people expecting the unexpected until the end.”

To have a driver who speaks our language – and not just our language, but with the American version of English – is recognized to be important to Formula 1 drivers.

“Currently they don’t have an American driver. We can do our best to put on an accent and fill those boots,” Daniel Ricciardo said in his best approximation of a Texan accent. “I can try all I can – I don’t know how these boys can do it but I’ll give it a red-hot crack and see how we go.”

Well, maybe “talking like us” is not the most important thing.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.