I read a super condescending blog about F1 coming to the US and about how it was too sophisticated for American NASCAR fans.
I don't watch either, but what's the "sophistication" difference? Road courses with left and right turns versus just left turns on NASCAR tracks?
Any discussion questioning whether F1 should come to the US is a COMPLETE joke. The schedule is determined completely by commercial interests, and by that I mean F1 doesn't care about attendance or local TV ratings, it's whoever is willing to pay Bernie Ecclestone's huge sanctioning fee to stage a race. F1 puts on races in places like China and Bahrain and Abu Dhabi (UAE) because the dictators want to increase their international "prestige" and visibility, so they pay the fee with no regard to whether the event makes money. In China I heard they actually put soldiers in the stands so they wouldn't look empty on TV.
In democratic capitalist countries, governments aren't going to pay the fee, so the local promoter is concerned about making money. So attendance counts, although I don't know if the promoter sees any TV money. I believe the F1 race in Indianapolis consistently had the highest attendance of any F1 race on the calendar. I went to the first Indy F1 race in 2000, where attendance on race day was something like 250,000, which I believe was the highest attendance of any F1 race in history. Yet the sanctioning fee is so high, promoters usually lose money, that's why F1 races are threatened (or no longer exist) at classic circuits like Silverstone, Spa, Hockenheim, Magny-Cours, and Imola.
As for "sophistication," are the race fans in Malaysia, Korea, China, Turkey, Abu Dhabi (UAE), Bahrain, or India more sophisticated about racing than Americans? Of course not, none of those countries have a history of motorsport. They just pay the fee to Bernie and they get a race.
So while Bernie doesn't care where F1 goes (he just wants to get paid his fee), the sponsors obviously do. The US is the biggest single market for many international companies that either sponsor or directly participate in F1. It amazes me that manufacturers like Ferrari and Mercedes have not been more insistent on having a USGP.
As for comparing F1 (or even IndyCar oval racing) with NASCAR, it's apples and oranges. The nature of the racing is completely different. The average F1 driver is far more skilled than the average NASCAR driver. You're more likely to see a good F1 driver learn to be a good oval racer than to take a NASCAR driver and see him succeed in open wheel cars (F1 or Indy). When racers successfully switch disciplines, it always goes in one direction: two wheels to four (e.g.
, John Surtees), and open wheel to tin top (many examples). However it must be noted that when open wheelers go to NASCAR they rarely dominate (except for "Smoke"). I have to admit, Juan Montoya has been a big disappointment. After several years in NASCAR he has done well on the two road courses, but has not done well on ovals, despite having previous oval experience and even winning the Indy 500.
While F1 commentators like to be snobs about the rednecks in NASCAR, the people running F1 have been paying attention to how NASCAR grew in popularity and attracted so many non-car-related sponsors. Bernie Ecclestone says a lot of stupid things publicly but he respects anyone who knows how to make money. NASCAR tailored the racing for the fans, who want to see passing and competitive races to the end, and F1 took a page from the playbook, first with KERS to try to facilitate more passing, but more successfully with DRS, which may be the most NASCAR-like innovation I've ever seen in F1.
I could go on and on, but this is getting ridiculous.