There may be no Grand Prix races in the U.S. this year, the result of the continuing feud between the car owners (FOCA) and the ruling federation (FISA) and two of the latter's weird rulings.
The Long Beach race, on March 15, is in doubt because its organizers want teams from both factions. FISA can muster only a dozen cars; FOCA probably 20. A full field would require at least 24 starters. Watkins Glen, the traditional site in New York of a U.S. prix, is not listed on any schedule because of financial problems. There are reports the circuit owes $750,000 from last October's race and no one wants to run for fun there this year.
FISA has ruled that the U.S. national club, the Automobile Competition Committee, must share the financial responsibility of staging Grand Prix races and that insurance carriers must pay all claims arising from such events, regardless of circumstances. The club has no funds for such guarantees and no insurance company offers the coverage FISA demands.
The tire situation is no better. Neither Michelin nor Pirelli is willing or able to take up the slack left by Goodyear's withdrawal as prime supplier. The FOCA teams in the South African Grand Prix Feb. 7 will use last year's rubber. The South African race will not award world championship points because no FISA teams are racing.