By on May 25, 2010

Formula One is back in the United States starting in 2012. This time, it’s Austin, TX which has decided to pay crazy Bernie his crazy dollars. Presumably this will be a street course, as nobody has spotted Hermann Tilke crawling through the desert with a bulldozer to remove all possible elevation changes from a potential track site.

Your humble author happened to be in attendance for the infamous six-car “Michelin race” which happened in 2005. I cleared out before the final lap, which turned out to be the right choice as there were a few post-race incidents. The drive out was surreal; locals had quickly made “F1 IS FAKE RACING” and “F1 SUCKS” cardboard signs. Still, I would recommend a trip to the USGP for anyone who hasn’t seen the F1 circus.

Story via Formula 1

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47 Comments on “F1 USGP To Be Held In Austin TX 2012-2021...”


  • avatar
    Viceroy_Fizzlebottom

    I was at the USGP for the last race in 07. I experienced the exact opposite while I was there. All I saw was a bunch of racing fans having a good time. I saw A LOT of people with NASCAR hats, and they were having blast!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      Just shows the importance of ethanol in racing.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      I too was at the final USGP at Indy in 2007. The impression I got was that not only was the USGP not the best race in the world that day, it probably wasn’t the best race in the state of Indiana that day. Technology and flash aside, I’m sure there was a midget race somewhere in the state that was more exciting. I know the Formula BMW race was more compelling. The Porsche SuperCup race too.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    You mean “Bridgestone race,” as Michelin withdrew? I’m surprised you recommend watching any street race in person, as often one can only see one corner and barely see the top of the cars above the concrete barriers.

    “Crazy money” sums it up.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I think of it as the “Michelin race”, since the problem was with the Michelins .

      I still remember Coulthard requesting to be permitted to race despite the danger.

  • avatar
    Vega

    F*** Tilke. Seriously. The guy has neutered F1 racing beyond any recognition. Just look at what he did to Hockenheim…

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      +2.

      Tilke’s soulless monstrosities and Mosley’s spec-racer-ifying of the sport have nearly turned it into a caricature of itself. I still hold out hope, and I still watch, but essentially spec engines and restricted aero aren’t in the spirit of the sport.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      I agree completely about the “spec engines”, but have to disagree just as emphatically about the “aero”. If they seriously want racing where the drivers and engineers control the outcome, they need to implement rules that get rid of ALL the overt downforce generators. No wings. No difusers. At all. Write a rule book that forces something of the approximate appearance of a Ferrari 156 “sharknose” or a Lotus 33. Yes, there will still be aero development, but the relatively clean air wake of such a shape will allow drafting and meaningful passing to occur again. Getting rid of the “hit a brick wall” braking systems would help a lot too.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Nothing against the US, but to me, since about 5-10 years ago, F1 is meh soup-opera not worth my time seeing.

    However, good for you that finally got the GP again. I really liked the 2 Indianapolis races I saw before stopping seeing.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    I was at the Detroit F1 race in ’87. It was the last F1 victory for Lotus. Senna drove his Honda-powered car to victory over his countryman (and eventual champion that year) Piquet, if I recall. The culture clash at that event (Eurotrash vs. Midwest fatties) was quite a sight.

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      I was at the last 2 USGP’s at Indy (fabulous times). I had ITV’s James Allan on the scanner, race day 2006…”here we are in the American Midwest, where they love their food, they love their religion, and they love their motor racing!”

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    Jack, obviously you have no clue what Formula 1 is all about. It’s the best drivers driving the best technology available on this little planet being ruled and ordered around by crazy old men who have no right controlling this pinnacle of human civilization.

    In this Formula 1 is somewhat like American Football, a sport where action and politics outside of the field are often more entertaining than the action on the field at least from the point of view of an outsider.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Nguyen Van Falk

      “the best technology available on this little planet being ruled and ordered around by crazy old men who have no right controlling this pinnacle of human civilization.”

      I never realized how well F1 summarized everything in the world.

  • avatar
    JMII

    What happened to the Monticello New York? That atleast made sense with the Big Apple only 2 hours away. A street circuit in Austin Texas, home of the pickup truck? This has fail written all over it. Of all the great tracks in the US (Indy, Laguna, the Glen, etc) they decided on Austin? This is a serious case of WTF.

    • 0 avatar
      RetardedSparks

      Bernie’s a clever little bugger. He needed a bargaining chip for the Texas deal, so he made damn sure the whole world knew he and Herman went to Monticello.
      The fact is, F1 (especially in the US) does not draw from a local population – it’s probably 90% fly-in. I’m sure Austin’s airport handles private jets just fine. If your jet is too big for Austin, you can take your helicopter every day from Houston.
      As for the fans, well…

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Nguyen Van Falk

      I think street races are a lot more dramatic for the non-F1 enthusiast (read all Americans). I was riveted in Australia watching Ferrari’s rip through the Gold Coast and I don’t care about any motorsport.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    The press release said purpose-built, ground-up facility, and even compared it to Watkins Glen. Didn’t you even read it Jack?

    Anyway, someone’s got $200 mil burning a hole in their pocket, and the sand better start flying fast and furious if they plan to hold a race in 2012. There’s a lot of FIA officials to grease, er, I mean, “host” between now and then.

  • avatar
    DearS

    F1 is more about status then anything right now imo. My ego sometimes get pretty caught up in the hype. Well the hell with F1, even though it “looks” pretty cool.

  • avatar
    texlovera

    Well, I wouldn’t exactly characterize the Hill Country area near Austin as “desert”. Brush country, definitely. Cactus, of course. But we’re definitely not talking Vegas.

    But there was not a single detail provided about this “purpose-built, ground-up facility”, which I assume is yet to be constructed. And yet they are already comparing it to Watkins Glen?

    Yeah, they better start building it quick….

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    That same turn 13 is one of the most exciting turns in oval racing when you are going in the right direction. We’ll keep the greatest spectacle in racing over the biggest debacle any day.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I used to live in Austin and I can tell you that when they want to build something quickly, they get right after it. You can build a new home there in less time than it takes to get the permits for one her in Northern California.

    I have no doubt that if the money and desire are in place, Texas can get a track done for 2012. The big question is: What else will it be used for? One certainly doesn’t build such a facility for just one race.

    As for the airport, it can handle anything you care to throw at it. The current Austin airport is a re-purposing of what was once the very busy Bergstrom Air Force base. Said base was built during WWII, and the Austin politicians of that time put a smart clause in the deal: If and when the Air Force ever chose to decommission the base, then the land and improvements upon it were to be turned back over to the city. Someone dug up that piece of paper back in the early 90s when Bergstrom was closed down. Consequently, the Austin airport has amazing runways easily capable of handling a few private jets :).

  • avatar

    Good luck with that, Austin. Indy’s much happier with the MotoGP over the F1 race.

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    I currently live in Austin – I’m looking forward to attending!

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    I have read somewhere that Austin is actually quite cosmopolitan and has plenty of “sophisticated” folks (I don’t mean to be condescending just feeding off the perceptions) so perhaps it will not be as bizarre a location as it seems to be on the surface and I do agree with the point made earlier that regardless what the venue in the US is, the majority of the audience is outside of the state anyway. Still, Texas, Formula 1? It does sound bizarre.

    Still hoping that it is successful and can be counted on to be on the schedule every year.

  • avatar
    CHINO 52405

    Hell yeah…I’m in. I love F1 and have been to both Detroit and Indy

    My dad took me to the Detroit GP when I was 7 and 8 and it is still one of my favorite memories and the reason why I love racing of ALL forms – no discrimination here. As for the street course view, we paid guys to stand on their roof tops and we could run from side to side to catch more action. Austin could be the same, no?

    I went to Indy a race or two before the Michelin race and it was a blast. Montoya made a balls out lock em’ up pass on Schumi in turn one and the whole front straight of Indy went insane.

    I wish it were the streets of Chicago, but at least its back.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I assumed street course due to the time frame too… if they can build a dedicated F1-level proper racing circuit in two years then I’ll be impressed. Look at the struggle they had getting the Abu Dhabi circuit done on schedule and they are drowning in gold bricks over there. This track will have to prove the “everything is bigger in Texas” moto to impress the F1 crowd.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Congratulations Austin! Yes, Austin has Cosmopolitan faire yet remains uniquely American. Its a great place to host the USGP. And if there’s any place that can get it done in two years it’s Texas. I visited some friends in Austin about 3 years ago and was impressed. Modern and fun, lots to do.

    The biggest issue for the return of the USGP was of course paying FOM their confiscatory rates to bring the circuis to town. IMS (meaning Tony George) wasn’t willing to pony up the nearly doubled rate Bernie asked for, and Tony George thought he could hold out and Bernie would cave. Wrong, oh so wrong. Not only did Bernie pull the plug on the USGP but on the Canadian GP as well. Bernie cares about money not tradition. If I didn’t know better I’d think the little guy was Sicillian. No matter what he says I don’t think he liked dealing with Tony George. Perhaps the Hulman family hoped that with TG gone Bernie might re-consider. The timing of this press release days before the Indianapolis 500 is no coincidence. It’s FoM saying “in your face, IMS you’re not the only game in town we don’t need you.”

    As far as a fan event the USGP at IMS was great. Ticket prices were reasonable great facilities and the Race was promoted well. A lot was done in 2007 to change the attitude everyone had gotten about Formula One over the 2006 Michellin mess. They had a lot of driver interviews ala Nascar that went over well. The drivers seemed to like the idea of racing at Indy, but the track wasn’t the best for them. And for sure FoM didn’t care for the location, and they didn’t get as much out of the TV broadcast as they get elsewhere.

    I think the best thing you could ask for has happened, both for Formula One, the drivers and the fans. We’ll have a dedicated Grand Prix circuit in a great location where there’s plenty of capitol. After the disaster at Donnington it’s as well that no one tried to modify an existing track with private funds. A completely new track from the ground up is what we definitely need to increase Formula One as a brand in the United States. Most of the manufacturer teams wanted to get back to the US where a great deal of their sales are, and I wonder if we’d hadn’t lost the USGP we might stll have Toyota, Honda and BMW involved in F-1.

    Can’t wait till the tickets go on sale. Who knows, there might even be a US team on the grid by 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Bernie/FOM are in hock to European banks up to Bernie ridiculous silver Beatles cut. If he doesn’t generate massive cash flow to service the insane debt, the banks smack his peepee and take away F1.

  • avatar
    Syke

    You want to see GOOD racing? Go to Indianapolis this August for MotoGP. As a show, it puts F1 to shame any day. And the politics are only half of what Bernie is cooking up.

    I’ll take two wheels on a track over our any day.

  • avatar
    hurls

    I was kind of rooting for Long Beach (close) or New York (an excuse to go visit the folks!), but this could be pretty cool…

    Now I finally have a reason to go visit Austin.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    We, the good, BHP-loving people of Austin, are thanking the racing gods for this gift. And make no mistake, we’re going to put on a hell of a show for F1.

    I’m a native NYer, and as I tell people to this day, “I don’t live in Texas. I live in AUSTIN.” You have to come here and spend a few days to understand. This place is unlike any other city I’ve ever been to, and I love it for that.

    So yes, I have no objectivity. But we blow it out of the water with South by Southwest. We Blow it out of the water with the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and so many other events. This city knows how to organize, we know how to build, and – most importantly – we know how to party. Bring it.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Austin is indeed a very, very special place. Hopefully they will schedule the race either in the Spring or late Fall. Austin in he summer can be stifling hot.

  • avatar
    Happy_Endings

    Austin in the fall would have to plan around UT football games. Not sure there enough hotel rooms in the area for 100,000+ UT fans and 100,000+ F1 fans. I don’t think either group would want to drive a great distance for their event.

  • avatar
    phreshone

    Yes, but UT doesn’t play every weekend… thus as it can handle the UT games, F1 should be no problem…

    In the end of the day, Toyota execs were right, F1 is elitist, and INDY is not a first class city. They were never going to get a facility in/near NYC, LA or SF (and that where the Euros really want to go), so Bernie had to figure out a place rich Europeans would want to go, and get fannies in the seat… Austin is perfect. Great nightlife and restaurants, and a charm that neither Dallas or Houston have. Yet there are about 18 million people within a 4 hour drive, two major international airports, plus the Austin and San Antonio airports… Plus the sheiks have plenty of friends to visit in Dallas and Houston, making it a nice dual purpose diversion…

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      True enough, Indy has been a white-trash metropolis as long as I’ve been breathing (over 40 years…).

      Hell. They couldn’t even pull enough of a convention center together to keep PRI in town. Now I have to travel to the open sewer of Orlando to attend. Bleccchhhh…

      We shall see what happens in Austin. I do hope it will be better than all indicators point.

      (And I really do like Austin…)

    • 0 avatar
      thecavanaughs

      Austin has a lot of wonderful things- I grew up there and adore the city. But you can’t have it both ways. If you want to be small and weird, then you can’t be big and cosmopolitan when it suits you. Austin is small, has inferior infrastructure, and the airport is marginal (Austin- 25 gates for 2 runways, DFW- 152 gates for 7 runways- and Dallas has another airport besides). Austin has no demonstrated interest in professional sports, and I can see no logical reason to pick it an a venue for any major event other than SXSW or a SRV fan club meeting (although SRV was born in Dallas, for the record). The only reason it has 16 Million within a 4 hour drive is that a 4 hour drive will include the big cities of Texas- but the same logic would add Austin’s small population to any of those cities- so where is the advantage? Austin is a small city- a charming, beautiful, heart-warming small city- but it is a city that has shunned growth and to a large extent excess as well. Good for Austin- bravo! But you have to then accept what you chose to become. It is a wonderful city, but a international fuel burning millionaire playboy driver euro excess playground for the Uber-rich? That is almost exactly what Austin is not- but it is exactly what Dallas is, or perhaps aspires to be- and believe me- that’s no compliment to Dallas.

    • 0 avatar
      Happy_Endings

      “Yes, but UT doesn’t play every weekend… thus as it can handle the UT games, F1 should be no problem…”

      And it also means F1 has to schedule races around UT games. I’m not sure Bernie is aware of this, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to play second fiddle to “some college football team”…

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      porschespeed – “Indy has been a white-trash metropolis as long as I’ve been breathing”……with statements like that, hopefully that’s not much longer.

      My experiences with a lot of the F-1 crowd that came to Indy is that they were pretentious and rude. So sorry that we weren’t cosmopolitan enough for their tastes. Give me a sixth grade educated, toothless, white trash redneck Indy car, NASCAR, dirt track 1/4 midget fan any day over those pampered F-1 SOB’s.

      Rick Thomas – You are correct…..Moto GP is balls out racing…..much better than F-1.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” …. but it is a city that has shunned growth ….. ”

      You have got to be kidding. Austin has been growing like gangbusters. From 2000 to 2009, for example, the population grew from 1.25m to over 1.7m people.

      http://www.austinchamber.com/DoBusiness/GreaterAustinProfile/population.html

    • 0 avatar
      thecavanaughs

      John- Yes- the region has grown- but Austin proper is about 3/4 million. What growth has been allowed is almost all in the last 10 years. I agree 2000-2008 were big growth years. The twenty years before that Austin was famous for limiting growth intentionally- for which they should be commended, in my opinion. The growth that has occurred is to a large extent a result of Austin reversing its long held resistance to road expansion a decade ago.

      They are growing- I agree- but they are not big. The Austin-San Marcos metro region is 1.7M, the DFW metro region is 6.1M- that isn’t really close. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Austin and I am not bashing it. In my opinion, the very things that make Austin wonderful also make it an poor choice for an F1 city.

  • avatar

    Yawn.

    Tavo Hellmund and his company are small-time operators. Hellmund has bounced around various minor league racing circuits; his race promoting company is similarly minor league. If he can gather the hundreds of millions of dollars required to construct a track and stage a Formula One race in Austin, I’ll eat my Texas-sized hat.

  • avatar
    thecavanaughs

    Bulldozers in the desert? Are we referring to the area around Austin or did I misunderstand that statement? The land around Austin is lush and humid hill country- not a desert.

  • avatar
    becurb

    The race circuit is supposedly going to be build “near the airport”. So, it will be a dedicated track. That is good, as I despise temporary road circuits – nothing more than glorified parade laps you ask me. Belle Isle, Long Beach, Miami, Monaco – boring “not racing” racing. For that matter, NASCAR at Sonoma fits the category, due to the narrow track.

    I don’t foresee success for this venture. Austin may have pretensions, but the F1 crowd won’t like the lack of amenities – much like the location of the French GP at Magny-Cours.

    As for Bernie – the man is doing his level best to kill the “sport” of F1, with his crony-in-stupidity, Max. Not all their fault, as F1 isn’t the only series to build cars that can’t pass. Yeah, I’m looking at you, IRL. Perhaps the promoters think they can peel IRL away from TMS and get them to run at the Austin (vapor)circuit?

    Bruce

  • avatar
    txannie1

    I have to agree with the Cavanaughs…Austin has grown but the thingns that make it wonderful are the opposite of what the F1 crowd would like. We’re simply not that kind of sport…

    From: txannie1@hotmail.com
    To: info@fullthrottleproductionslp.com
    Subject: Austin TX Formula 1 Race
    Date: Wed, 26 May 2010 11:46:16 -0700

    While you talk about of all the wonderful things that makes this city so great these same reasons are also why I think many Austinites, aside from the politicians, will think your move, and a Formula 1 race, is not so great. It is counterintuitive to call Austin the greenest city in the US & then have something like a Formula 1 track built here. As international as Austin is and welcoming to visitors, Formula 1 does not belong here. If it were an international event such as cycling, i.e. along the Tour de France type event, that makes more sense.

    Just where do you plan to build this facility and what enviromental impact will you have in the area & surrounding neighborhoods? How much land, currently ‘countryside’ will be eaten up, plowed under cement to make way for the track?
    No, Formula 1, going by feedback I’m hearing, is NOT welcome in Austin. If Texas has such wonderful large metro areas, move it to Houston or Dallas, cities that have already devastated their metro areas so badly by their sprawl, should have plenty of room to accommodate your elitists’ sport. Austin’s appeal is slowly starting to diminish because of traffic, crime rates rising in particular burglaries and violent crime, and as the eyeball of the nation, and now the world seems to become more focused here. With that comes the blight and loss for just such the things that make it great, a pleasant, still-small community atmosphere, healthy living, an envirmental conscious, and an outward look to the rest of the world. While we welcome what makes the community tight, we don’t that which makes the community blighted.
    We like to Keep Austin Weird and so say ‘NO’ to Formula 1.

  • avatar
    hakata

    Never happen. Unless there’s a local Texas oil sheik willing to put up the buckaroos as a pet project, this is just another Bernie negotiating tactic. He strings along some small-timer who has no hope of raising the capital in order to pressure the real players to cough up money and improvements.

    When Bernie gave the British GP to Donington Park a couple years ago, Silverstone bent over backwards to appease him. And lo and behold, Donington went busto and we’re racing in Silverstone again. I just don’t think Indy cares enough to play that game this time around.

  • avatar
    RSX-S4LIFE

    I’m in San Antonio and I can’t wait for F1!! A dream come true!!! I was really dreading a trip to Montreal for one race.
    I seriously doubt any race event could be held in downtown Austin. That town is WAAAAYYYY to small for that. Shoot, I35 sucks any time between 7am and 10pm. One can imagine the headache if they closed roads for an entire weekend.
    Austin is no desert. Lush and fairly green. And as for ironing out the hills.. I say leave them!! Elevation changes make for great racing!!


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