Leonard Thomas: Singapore Grand Prix must stay
With F1 set for fresh ideas, a deal to extend the Singapore GP makes Springsteen sense
The ground underfoot was often muddy because of the thousands who had already made their impressions.
There were temporary barriers, hoardings, tight security and barking marshals to negotiate, getting to the temporary stands was a long, crowded, circuitous, hot and dusty walk of sweat and swear.
But, at the end, there was a breathless return for everyone who had come out to watch as shiny multi-hued one-man rockets on four wheels zipped past their eyes continuously, rattling ear drums under a darkened sky illuminated spectacularly by the brightly lit streets of downtown Singapore in Formula One's first night race in 2008.
The annual affair could come to an end after Sunday's race, but I hope this remarkable Grand Prix remains on the Formula One calendar after 2017 for at least another two or three years and try and capitalise on the ideas of new owners Liberty Media.
The Singapore F1 stop has made an imprint worldwide, it is a go-to race every year because of the setting and its rock and roll vibe.
And, with the American media conglomerate as owners, the sport is possibly set for fresh impetus.
The Grand Prix is expensive, with hosting rights costing anywhere from $30 million to $40m. The cost of holding a race each year is around $150m, with the Government committing 60 per cent and organisers Singapore GP Pte Ltd footing the rest of the bill.
While ticket sales fell last year, it was still healthy at around 73,000 for each of the three days of the race weekend.
Singapore’s Formula One race is not just a sporting contest, it is the most spectacular event here every year.Leonard Thomas
In 2015, the average was 87,000 and the highest was 100,000 in 2008.
But around 350 million visitors have descended on Singapore since the inaugural event and tourism receipts on average bring in $150m a year, along with numerous business deals struck on the sidelines of the race week.
More than anything else, this Grand Prix is made in Singapore.
Drivers pop up at various venues in town during the course of the week to the delight of fans.
The Circuit Park comes alive, side events pepper various locations and hotels boom.
During race weekend, drivers get into their machines and hurtle along the streets of central Singapore under the stars watched by thousands located expertly along the 5.065 km route.
Over the years, there has been "Crashgate" and an unforgettable Ferrari pit flop.
A drunk fan also went on a dangerous wander briefly along the circuit.
The Padang has hosted Justin Bieber and Bon Jovi, Robbie Williams and Jennifer Lopez.
After nine editions of the Singapore Grand Prix, there have been four race winners here, all world champions.
There is much anticipation ahead of Sunday's race as Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel are in a tight battle for the world championship, with three points separating the Englishman from the German and seven races to go.
Hamilton and Vettel will each have thousands in the stands around Marina Bay and approximately 400 million more watching on TV all over the world roaring them on as the two continue their exciting fight to land this year's grand prize.
Ariana Grande and Duran Duran headline the entertainment acts, following previous performers like Pharell, Chaka Khan, Spandau Ballet and Queen.
But not Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
I've begged Michael Roche, the executive director of Singapore GP, to fulfil a personal dream and get the greatest rock and roll show on earth to Singapore.
I've also begged S Iswaran, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), to try to get Springsteen and his gang to bring the house down and cap off the Singapore Grand Prix.
The MTI, Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore GP, led by owner and business magnate Ong Beng Seng, are the principal players in negotiations with Liberty Media.
They, along with many other local organisations, including Sport Singapore and hordes of volunteers, have ensured that the Grand Prix has continued to be a roaring success.
Perhaps sometime before Sunday's race, the world will hear whether Singapore will continue to be a stop on the Formula One calendar after 2017.
I hope it's good news, because the walk to the circuit these days is much easier, with trails paved and new MRT stations nearby, road closures reduced to a minimum and ticket prices made as low as possible.
Singapore's Formula One race is not just a sporting contest, it is the most spectacular event here every year.
And Springsteen will propel it into the stratosphere.