May 26, 2010

USGP in Austin: Americans fans say "Show me Cattle"

Safe to say the whole of the F1 world was surprised by the announcement of Austin, Texas as the site of US GP. Most surprised seemed to be people in Austin, including the Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce, characters you would imagine would be at least bit players in an enterprise of this magnitude.

A quick survey of opinion on online forums and assorted gathering places shows US fans are delighted F1 will be back but take a very guarded wait and see attitude with regards to this project in Texas. Indianapolis and USF1 are still sore spots and many are realistic about the daunting challenges ahead for the project. Some brought up the British GP at Donnington fiasco.

The organizers admitted they have yet to purchase land for the facility, I imagine price on 500 acre plus parcels of land has increased significantly this week.
Then there is construction, from scratch, of a world class modern Formula 1 venue in under 24 months.
There is cost, is half a billion dollars unrealistic? Might even be low. State and local government are said to be behind the project but likely just in the form of credits rather than upfront funds. Many have doubts Texans will want to give tax money for a bunch of European millionaires racing cars they don't especially care about.

On the other hand Texas has a huge base of extremely wealthy motorsport enthusiasts. Private money, big corporate money, not a problem there. Motoring fans are just hoping there is cattle to go along this this project's big hat.



  1. Unfortunately, this is a pipe dream. Especially since I live about an hour from Austin. The time line is just not feasible. If no site has been selected, that mean that no site plan or track plan has begun. Heck, just the closing on the land would take 2 to 4 months. I would guess that the track plans alone would take more than a year to fully complete. Then, the permitting process would have to begin. This is a 3 year project at a minimum. Visions of USF1 are dancing in my head. I hope I'm wrong.

  2. This is so stupid. Texans will not care about F1. Indiana didn't care even though they've been fans of open wheel cars for 100 years. The USGP needs to be on the West coast where it can be the biggest motorsport in the region. Californians still go to Indy car races, for goodness sake! People there love fast cars and famous people. Plus, they already have racetracks.

  3. This would be incredible; an F1 race to go to and a new, FIA certified, track to play on an hour from my house. I will believe it when I see the track completed, however. Austin would be a great place to host the race I just hope this does not end up another disappointment for the American F1 fan.

  4. I would love to have an F1 Grand Prix within two hours from my house, but I'll believe it when I see it. Construction for Cowboy Stadium (The new, $1.3 billion stadium for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys) started Dec 2006 for a May 2009 opening. The land was selected in 2005. Football in Texas probably has at least twice the support that motorsports do. With less time and likely less public support, its going to be an up hill battle.

    In any case, I can see why Texas is seen as a viable location after California and New York. The following are a few points that were brought up by Jalopnik user GimmiMørgäikkönën:

    "In addition to the State of Texas being the 11th strongest economy in the world, it has more Fortune 500 company headquarters than any other state. Key features of Austin include:
    - State capital nicknamed ‘Silicon Hills’ for being one of the most important regions in the US for the Technology Industry;
    - USA’s 15th largest city and is located 145 miles from Houston (4th largest US city), 70 miles from San Antonio (7th largest US city), and 180 miles from Dallas (8th largest US city), population in this triangle is over 22 million;
    - Perfectly located geographically for North, South and Central American visitors;
    - over 130 daily departing international flights within 180 miles"

    I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

  5. I want a USGP, but I think Texas is a poor spot for it. Instead just put 40 million into Road America or Watkins Glen and have a great race at great naturally flowing tracks instead of a Tilke built POS. I could easily see 250K+ people show up for an F1 return to Watkins for sure!

    That and who the hell will want to sit in 100+ weather in late june/early july for an F1 race in Texas? Would be quite unpleasant!

  6. I totally agree with Jonathan. Put money into some changes on tracks that everyone already knows, and loves.

  7. Yeah but take Watkins Glen, it's very hard to get to, you figure Bernie will stay at the Seneca Lodge? I can't see it, Monticello made more sense as it's close to a major highway and to NYC.

    On the other side, Why not Laguna?

    Maybe Texans will pimp it up and make it an indoor air conditioned track :)

  8. Would be nice if they could run F1 at Laguna Seca but Monterey just does not have the infrastructure needed for something like that.

    Austin would be good though, still a bit of a drive from me (San Diego) but way closer than the Canadian GP!

  9. The track site has already been purchased, as well as all of the basic permits for water and waste.

    I have zero concerns that the facility will be completed in time and am SO EXCITED that there will be a long term F1 venue only 3 hours away from me (Dallas)

    Not only does Austin have a great market but Austin is placed dead center so it can greatly capitalize from surrounding Dallas, Houston and San Antonio markets.

    Anyone who says that Austin is a bad location is just sour because its not nearby to their hometown.

    Its already been planned out though, THE OFFICIAL HONDA-TECH F1 PJ PARTY IS GONNA HAPPEN 2012!

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  11. "I want a USGP, but I think Texas is a poor spot for it. Instead just put 40 million into Road America or Watkins Glen and have a great race at great naturally flowing tracks instead of a Tilke built POS. I could easily see 250K+ people show up for an F1 return to Watkins for sure!

    That and who the hell will want to sit in 100+ weather in late june/early july for an F1 race in Texas? Would be quite unpleasant! "-Jonathan

    You forget that Texas sells out basically all of its Nascar and Indy Car events which all land in the middle of summer. Weather is not an issue and if your any sort of motorsport fan its just part of racing.

  12. True, but IMO if F1 is going to succeed in the US, they need to reinspire a passionate fan base again, and I think they need a track in which people are passionate about, which I dont think a new circuit will inspire.

    Granted if they build it, people will come, but will they stay? No offense to those in Texas, but Texas just doesn't seem like a very passionate area for road racing or motorsports in general. Im sure there are a load of people there, but in order to get local people interested and stay interested in F1 you need a community that is pro-motorsports and has a history of it.

    I mean look at the situation already, people are already doubting that it will even get done and the announcement was less the 3 days ago! Sure there are those who are negative Nancey's, but there are some serious time constraints and money/investment issues ahead of them. In one article the mayor of the city found it to be a huge surprise that they chose his city, you would have thought he was in on any of the negotiations right?

    All Im trying to say is that if they announce they were going to WG or Road America the phones would be going off the hook, there website would crash and 200k tickets would be sold out in 20 minutes. The passion that fans have for tracks like WG and RA are huge, and I think passion is what F1 needs in the US to survive and thrive.

  13. The problem with tracks like Watkins Glen and Road America is the huge need to renovate their facilities drastically to par F1 standards. Suzuka just spent millions and millions of dollars renovating their track. Do you really think the owners of these tracks are willing to spend this much money just for renovating? We aren't even talking about the tremendously high fee Bernie demands for holding a Gp.

    The location of holding a Gp in the center BEST STATE IN THE US (FUK YEAH!)is not only a safe financial investment, but it guarantees an ideal location and ease of travel for foreign and out of state travelers. The motorsport passion is here, whether you think that us here in Texas all walk around in cowboy boots and go to work in our horses we have great current tracks and have one of the top auto x and weekend racing participation out of states in the US. Its the best location to capitilize on both the US and Mexican market where there is lack of GP.

    And people will be negative Nancy's regardless of where the GP would of been held at. Everyone wants it near them and will find any excuse to complain about something. But everyone here on AoO can do that while I wait for the USGP so I can attend a state of the art race track all only 3 hours away.

  14. @Jonathon and Pete

    I would think if you were passionate about a particular race track the first order of business would be keeping Hermann Tilke as far away from said track as humanly possible...

    The idea of "F1 back at Watkins Glen" certainly has appeal from a romantic, historical perspective, but be careful what you wish for. Lest one day you find
    your favourite track has been given the Donnington treatment or, god forbid, turned into another Hockenheim.

  15. Wait, no road racing in Texas ? That will come as a surprise to the Risi boys (who of course are Italian running Italian cars, speaking of the best..:) )

    I think building a track from scratch is the best idea and it has to be near a city of interest for added value. Austin is like the New York of Texas so Bernie gets his wish.

    In the end though it don't mean a thing if it don't got that ka-ching. Saw a report totay that the promoter admitted the whole thing might slide to 2013, anyone else read that?

  16. Being a Texan (currently living in Chicago), i agree with AC. It is completely possible for this to happen, just pull out that check book and start cutting checks cause it's going to take money and lots of it.
    As for the people of Texas being fans of motorsports, i'm not in the least bit worried about selling out the races. Heck, folks from other states will probably buy half the tickets anyway. One of the benefits of Texas being centrally located in the country.
    The weather. I doubt they will try to schedule the race in summer, lest they run at night, which most tracks do when it's hot out. Mid fall to early winter is the prime race time in Texas. The ground can be as warm as 120 F while it cools to 65-75 by 7pm. Add that into Austin being about 750 feet above sea level and you get conditions that are perfect for racing.
    As for the WG and RA arguments, i'm just thinking that if F1 wanted to go there, they would. F1 wanted a purpose built track and they are getting it, it just so happens to be in Texas. My thoughts are, make the track so damn good for the teams and the racing that at the post race interviews they are saying (with your choice of English, Italian, Spanish, or whatever driver you like the most accent) "It may be in the land of pick-ups with NASCAR stickers, but that is a great track!" Win that battle and everything else will be gravy.


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