Over 300 people turned out to watch the Australian Grand Prix at a watch party in San Francisco.twitter
As Formula One continues its rapid ascent in the U.S., rolling toward its debut Miami race next month, organized fan and media activities around the sport are also quickly picking up the pace.
Several U.S.-based media companies have started dedicating new resources to covering F1 this year, and in a trend similar to the rise of watching European soccer in America, bars around the country are starting new watch parties during races or reporting record crowds from existing clubs.
Podcast charts that track the most popular sports shows in the U.S. are now populated by a host of different ones related to F1. Bill Simmons’ The Ringer started a particularly popular F1 show this year around the same time that it shut down one dedicated to baseball.
“The Ringer F1 Show” is hosted by reporter Kevin Clark. The week after F1’s season opener in Bahrain last month, it was ranked as the No. 4 podcast in America by Chartable, trailing only “The Dan Le Batard Show,” Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take,” and The Ringer’s “Bill Simmons Podcast.” That week, half a dozen F1-related podcasts were in the top-100 list. F1 teams are taking notice; McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown appeared on “The Ringer” show last week.
Barstool Sports has yet to announce an official show around F1, but some of the company’s top influencers, including Dan “Big Cat” Katz, have started routinely tweeting during races and Barstool now sells F1-themed merchandise in its online store including red shirts featuring the face of Ferrari drivers and others featuring McLaren’s drivers.
“The Dan Le Batard Show” now has a weekly “F1 minute” segment hosted by the show’s Jessica Smetana, and host Jon “Stugotz” Weiner went on a rant on last week’s show about how “everyone is [now] an F1 fan, and everyone’s tweeting about it.”
Meanwhile, fan clubs are popping up throughout the U.S. so fans can watch races together. Some have been around for years but are reporting record growth.
Trademark Brewing, a bar in Long Beach, Calif., just started hosting F1 watch parties this year and had at least 100 people out at its most recent event, according to Scott Wenger of Trademark.
“We’re interested in F1 and other sporting events so we just figured others are as well and we weren’t aware of any other similar types of watching events [in Long Beach], so we figured the demand for it was there and it turns out it is,” Wenger said.
Elsewhere, a group in San Francisco that has been watching races together since 2005 just set a new record attendance mark two weeks ago for the Australian Grand Prix. According to the group’s co-founder, Peter Habicht, more than 300 people turned up to the group’s usual hangout, the Kezar Pub, to watch the race that started at 10 p.m. local time. Habicht, an F1 content producer, runs a Twitter account called “F1 in America” that has nearly 12,000 followers.
Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are among the other cities that have fan groups.