Austin Formula 1 Expo 2012

By , May 15, 2011 11:29 pm

A couple of weeks ago I floated the idea of holding a Formula 1 Expo in Austin prior to the inaugural Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. I am pleased to say that the concept got some positive feedback, and so I would like to explore the idea a bit further here and invite additional comment. I have included some recent photos of team and sponsor exhibitions held around the world to whet the appetite!

Recent Tag Heuer F1 Exhibition

Recent Tag Heuer F1 Exhibition

What Would be the Main Objective of the Expo?

The objective would be two-fold:

1) To inform the local catchment area, including the potential markets of Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, about what an exciting, interesting and fun sport Formula 1 is, and what the race weekend will comprise. As we know, the history of F1 in the US has been rather disappointing, and in-part this is down to the fact that F1 has failed to capture the public’s imagination, so hopefully the Expo would help in this regard.

2) To showcase Austin to the broader F1 community, enabling the City and local businesses to highlight what Austin has to offer, both as the host to F1 and in a broader sense as a great place to visit and do business.

What Would be Shown at the Expo?

The Expo should be educational and entertaining as well as meeting the objectives of the exhibitors. Hence, I would envisage:

  • Exhibits from the FIA, some of the F1 teams including a car or two, the Circuit of the Americas, Tag Heuer and other F1 sponsors, etc., hopefully with many of them including some  merchandizing “giveaways”.
  • A video theatre showing informative and compelling F1 content, with possibly some in 3D.
  • Driving simulators, including tracks such as Monaco as well as Austin, so visitors get a a taste of what it is like to drive an F1 car.
  • Stands from Austin’s hotels, restaurants, music venues, and other race related businesses.
  • Plenty of “special guests” including former and even current drivers, high profile executives and engineers from the teams, motor racing commentators and pundits,  celebrities who follow F1, etc. 
Full Motion Simulator

Full Motion Simulators are Exteremely Popular and Would Provide a Great Attraction at the Expo

Where and When Should the Expo be Held?

The Expo needs to be held after the start of the 2012 F1 season, so that the momentum it creates can gather pace as visitors will have the opportunity to watch other F1 races on TV prior to the Austin GP, but without there being too big of a time lag causing interest to wane. Hence, about 6-12 weeks prior to the Austin GP would seem to be a good target. Of course, the fact that the date of the race will not be known until around September rather complicates the initial planning!

As for venue, on the one hand the conference facilities at the track itself would seem like a good option. However, with construction work likely to be continuing right up to race weekend, the Expo would likely be an unwelcome distraction, and hence Circuit of the Americas would probably not want the additional pressure of having to have the Expo facilities ready ahead of the track, especially with the additional public safety constraints that would impose while getting the track ready. Consequently, the best option seems to be the Austin Convention Center or Palmer Events Centre.

One of the Exhibition Halls at the Austin Convention Centre

One of the Exhibition Halls at the Austin Convention Centre

How Would the Expo be Funded?

Well first off I would say it should definitely NOT look for tax payer funding, especially in the current environment! I also feel that the entry fee for the public should be kept low, as the whole objective is to create interest and inform. Hence, the bulk of the funding would need to come from the exhibitor fees and sponsorships. I also think that it would be better to keep the event independent and not directly run by FOM or F1 USA as that would be sure to politicise the event, which I think would be unhelpful.

What Next?

I am hoping to get feedback, positive or negative, via this site, Twitter @F1_AustinTX, or email at Ian@formula1austinblog.com. I am especially interested to know if anything similar to this is being planned, and from anyone wishing to become involved in making it happen if we can build some momentum with the idea.

THANKS!

Oh, and to finish, one final very cool stand at a recent F1 exhibition, courtesy of Tag Heuer.

Compelling Effects at This F1 Exhibition Stand in April 2011

Compelling Effects at This F1 Exhibition Stand in April 2011

4 Responses to “Austin Formula 1 Expo 2012”

  1. Joe Holland says:

    Great idea. There were similar events at the Long Beach Gran Prix which I used to faithfully attend when I lived in CA.

    Definitely would be something we’d participate in.

  2. jo6pac says:

    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/05/12/texas-f-1-racing/

    Maybe someone could explain this to the citizens of Texas? I want a F1 race in America but do the tax payers have pay for everything only a few enjoy. I thought Texas was short of cash like every other state. Yes in SF, Calif the city is paying to race sailboats it should be fun but why couldn’t the money people of SF paid for the event?

    • Steve C says:

      We citizens of Texas are not paying for this at all. Please get your facts straight. A “fund” has been established in the state that will be paying $25 million each year to the county (Travis) for them to host the event. The sales taxes collected for the event will then pay back into this “Fund” each year. So no tax dollars that you or I have to pay will be used at all, except for the times you and I come here (I’m already here) and spend money at the event or in and around Austin.

      Come and enjoy the races and bring your friends…

  3. Jeffrey Smith says:

    Please call me as soon as possible. I have been exploring the same idea but with a different slant which I hope you find interesting.

    Thanks

    Jeffrey Smith
    828.699.1574

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