Austin’s Circuit of the Americas

By , April 25, 2011 11:49 pm

So, Austin’s F1 facility is now to be known as the Circuit of the Americas.  I was not sure if I liked the name at first, but it has begun to grow on me. It does convey the fact that that the track will be multi-functional circuit rather than a one race venue, which has been the case with some of the other recent additions to the F1 calendar. Inclusion of “the Americas” in the name speaks to the fact that the venue will draw interest from beyond the US – especially from neighbouring Mexico if F1 rookie Sergio Perez continues as impressively as he has done so far this season.

It was encouraging to see the announcement covered during a on-site feature on Speed Channel and we have also learned more about what is planned for the Austin facility from other recent announcements by Full Throttle Productions and others:

  • There will be around 30 days per year of motor racing at the circuit, including a round of the MotoGP Grand Prix World Championship from 2013, and of course the US Formula 1 GP from 2012. The venue was confirmed at 120,000 capacity for F1 race day.
  • The Circuit master plan includes a variety of permanent structures that can be used for business, education and entertainment on non race days. For example, the paddock building  will also serve as a 500-person banquet hall for events such as private or corporate dinners and nonprofit fundraising galas.
  • The main grandstand will house luxury suites that can be used for business entertaining. This will have a capacity of over 700 and will also include a cafe.
  • The media and conference center will be available for business conferences, seminars and receptions, and I hope to be able to use this facility to host some of the technology conferences that my company runs, meaning that I can get to work and play at the same time! During race weekends, the conference facilities will convert into an international media center, accommodating the world’s traveling press.
  • There will be a further 14 large suites each equipped with kitchens, advanced A/V and broadband to serve as business meeting suites for up to 75 people. During race weekends, teams and sponsors will use the suites for meetings and hospitality. 
  • The 5,400 square foot Medical Building will be available for year round use as a training facility for the city’s emergency services as well as medical school students. During races, it will serve as a trauma care location for drivers, marshals and pit crews who may be injured during the races.
  • I am pleased to say that Austin’s live music heritage will also play a big part in the circuit’s business model, and with a bit of luck will bring some of the more popular bands to Austin, most of whom currently prefer to play San Antonio, Dallas or Houston because of the lack larger venues in Austin.  The circuit’s Grand Plaza is being designed as an open stage area where performers can entertain thousands of people in a panoramic setting.  
  • There are a number of other proposed amenities in the works, including a driving/riding experience, a motorsports driving club, kart track, grand plaza event center and tower, and a trackside RV park.

On a rather more controversial subject, The Texas legislature may be about to cut the $25 million incentive package that had been promised to help fund the Austin track, and this has got some people very worked up on both sides. But delving deeper it seems that the cuts are far from a foregone conclusion. Apparently, the Texas Senate Finance Committees vote to cut the funding in its version of the State budget is likely to be be partially or wholly reversed by the House, which is a believer in the financial benefits that F1 will bring to Texas, and have already included it in their budget. 

I was also interested to see that McLaren, and FOTA chairman, Martin Whitmarsh has been voicing his opinion about the need for F1 to do more marketing, especially in the USA. As Martin says: “The USA does not need Formula One, we need the USA, and I think if we just plonk ourselves down there and believe that America is going to reignite its enthusiasm for Formula One, I think we are wrong.” I totally agree, and does reinforce my point I made last time about the need for something like an F1 Expo in Austin to help promote all aspects of F1 to both businesses and the potential audience.

Finally a note to those of you who are commenting on this blog.  You may experience a bit of a delay before your post shows-up, as I am trying to reduce the number of spam posts the site is receiving by checking all comments before they post.

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2 Responses to “Austin’s Circuit of the Americas”

  1. Ian Weightman says:

    Thanks Eric. I believe that Seton will be providing the medical support as the only level 1 trauma centre in the area.

  2. Eric says:

    Ian-I love keeping up with your blog. Is Seton providing the medical care you speak of at the track?

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