San Jose Grand Prix: A success, with problems

My parents started taking me to CART races possibly before CART came into existence. Ontario CA and Riverside CA were some of the races I went to when I was small, but the one that I always attended was the race in Laguna Seca. It had always been a very popular and well attended race, but with the dwindling interest in open wheel racing in the US, it suffered greatly. With the 2004 Laguna Seca ChampCar race, there was about 10k people for the entire 3 days. Something had to be done, enter San Jose.

The success was obvious the first day of the SJGP. There were already 40k people just on friday. The problems of the track and the pedestrian bridges were showing themselves quick. Another was the large TV screen for the grandstands was blocked by palm trees. The main straightaway was obscured by the concrete barriers, so you saw only some of the cars. The straightaway was also on the wrong side of the road; true it had to be where it was because of the ChampCar paddock, but the course should have been near the stands while the pits were on the other side of the trees. Pit action can be fun, but I want to see the cars first and foremost.

The tracks created a lot of problems for the drivers, but I give them a lot of credit. There was very limited public whining about it. They didn't pull and F1 USGP fiasco, the officials did what they could and the drivers did their best.

After all those above problems, it was still a great success. The reasons are obvious locally. The SJ Mercury had half of the sports section devoted to the race and a big picture on the front page monday morning. They also had features about the race all week leading up to the race. The TV coverage sunday evening was lit up with race coverage and all the excitement. 153k attended the 3 days, only 15x more than Laguna Seca. Despite the limited walk space, bridges, and difficult viewing, the crowd was very nice and enthusiastic. Everyone was out to have fun. The whole buzz of the event was very positive and those problems were well acknowledged by the SJGP staff, even so much as to have 2 full page ad's in the SJ Mercury tuesday to thank the fans and promised more bridges.

The race itself, yes it wasn't that good. There was no passing on course, but I expected that when I saw the track on friday. The success was bringing people to the race and getting the attention of a region. Something that could never be done at Laguna Seca, because they do not advertise and no one will drive 40 miles for open wheel racing. I have been seeing SJGP advertising 7 months before the race, someone took marketting 101. I was very happying and proud to see the series I love to continue its resurrection with a positive new event so close to my home. I can only hope that the changes for 2006 will bring a better race and better event.

Comments:

SJGP 2006 - July 28, 29, 30

Posted by Steve Kompolt on August 29, 2005 at 02:49 AM PDT #

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