American fans of Formula One racing have been eagerly anticipating the return of an American team to what is largely regarded to be the pinnacle of motor racing. But it's been a long, long time. The last time we saw an American team on the grid was in the 1970s when teams like Penkse, Parnelli and Shadow competed. The USF1 project never got off the ground, but good news arrived when NASCAR team owner Gene Haas was granted a license from the FIA to start a new F1 entry.
That team was originally scheduled to get its start next season, but now reports are indicating that Haas is pushing back its entry until 2016. Part of the decision reportedly comes down to a delay in setting up its European base of operations. Haas is apparently committed to basing his team in the United States – specifically at his expanding NASCAR operation in Kannapolis, North Carolina – but needs a secondary European base to use in between the European races that still account for the lion's share of grands prix on the schedule. That facility was originally earmarked for Milan, Italy, but after tax considerations ruled that out, Haas is looking at alternatives that will likely see the team set up shop in the UK, where eight out of the eleven teams currently on the grid are based.
Assuming Haas is ready to join the grid by 2016, it's looking increasingly likely that the Romanian entry that was also seeking approval from the FIA will also get in on the action. That would be the operation being jointly established by Colin Kolles and Ion Bazac. Kolles formerly ran the Midland/Spyker/Force India team and was then put in charge of HRT, and has been focusing lately on getting the Lotus LMP1 project onto the WEC grid. Bazac, meanwhile, was once health minister in the Romanian government and now runs the country's Ferrari importer, Forza Rossa. Rumor has it that the team could use that name and Ferrari engines in an arrangement that might not be far off from Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team that campaigned Ferraris in sports car racing on both sides of the Atlantic as Maranello's de facto proxy team.