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Circuit of the Americas Wins One for American F1 Fans

As reported here yesterday, Circuit of the Americas announced this morning that they will host a race on next year’s F1 calendar. In a photo finish, and after weeks of delays, missed contract deadlines and most recently a complete halt to work on the circuit itself, COTA has forged a new contract in a last minute deal with rights holder Bernie Ecclestone. The first purpose built F1 circuit in the United States brings back the sport to America after a 5 year hiatus.

“Our investors have believed all along that this project has tremendous benefit for our region, and provides a strong economic engine for the future,” stated Bobby Epstein, founding partner of Circuit of The Americas and credited by founder Red McCombs for today’s outcome. “We remain committed to reaching our goal of being valuable community partners as we establish a platform for sports and entertainment. We’re glad that Tavo’s vision of bringing F1 to the people of Texas will become a reality.”

Read COTA’s full statement here

Details of the new deal have not been made public, and construction is set to resume immediately on site.

“We have a substantial number of fans who have expressed interest in buying tickets and hospitality, so today is a win for all of them as much as it is for Circuit of The Americas,” said COTA president Steve Sexton. “We encourage everyone to visit our website and register for information. Registered fans will receive the first communication regarding ticket sales plans. In a matter of weeks we will have more exciting news as we unveil our full calendar of world class events.”

For more on ticketing and informational updates, visit Circuit of the Americas on the web, Facebook and twitter.

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Filed under American F1 circuits, American F1 history, Circuit of the Americas, F1 in America, Uncategorized, United States Grand Prix, United States Grand Prix in Austin

Circuit of the Americas: Racing for 2012


The run up to tomorrow’s deadline for an agreement between Formula 1 and Circuit of the Americas (COTA) has been full of twists and turns, and American F1 fans have been waiting by the finish line this week for news that the 2012 race in Austin will go ahead as announced. The American Statesman has been keeping a close eye on events last month surrounding the story in Austin, and for many it’s time for a recap.

A win tomorrow for COTA means a win for Austin and American fans with a race in November 2012, but it wasn’t long after construction was interrupted earlier this year that observers noted it was going to be it’s own race to complete. The project was underfunded and delayed, and with a complete stoppage of work at the site due to a reshuffle at the top, all eyes are now waiting and watching for COTA to take the last corner on the last lap and finish what they’ve set out to do.

Americans love an underdog, and since the announcement of the Grand Prix of America, a new F1 race in New Jersey overlooking the Manhattan skyline in June of 2013, it’s been positioned to steal COTA’s thunder as the first F1 race in the US in more than half a decade if COTA is dropped from the calendar next year. FOM’s rightsholder, Bernie Ecclestone, has been a lightning rod for much of the ire around the Austin race delays, and the announcement tomorrow is expected to either put COTA ahead of their well-financed contenders from New Jersey, or make them the second Formula 1 race in the US in over half a decade.

A second place finish to the New Jersey race won’t take COTA out of the running for 2013, and regardless of outcome tomorrow it’s critical for everyone involved with this project, and especially the fans, to address the expectations set for F1’s return to Austin and match the passion and enthusiasm American fans have for the sport here.

The picture is much bigger than a one-off event or launch, and is about the ten year plan to create a new American home for F1 – one that is going to be supported by hundreds of millions and hopefully billions of reasons fans and business bring with them to ensure its longevity in Austin.

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Filed under American F1 circuits, American F1 history, Americans working in F1, Circuit of the Americas, F1 in America, Formula 1 New Jersey, Uncategorized, United States Grand Prix, United States Grand Prix in Austin

Champagne and F1 in America

Foyt/Gurney LeMans 1967

The Cahier Archive

Champagne – it’s the stuff for those who make it to the top steps, and thanks to the gentleman on the right, wearing a little (or a lot) is as much a part of winning today as the checkered flag.

Meet Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt – pictured above after their win at the 1967 LeMans 24 hour race. The two were rivals in Formula 1 and at Indy only to become teammates abroad in their Shelby-American Ford GT40 Mk. IV.  The press at the time felt the two hard charging drivers would let their rivalry spill over in the drivers seat at the cost of getting their car to the finish, but all were proven wrong after they took the overall win over the Ferrari P3/4’s.

Normally after winning a race to this point, drivers would take a sip from the bottle or from their trophy cup – but on June 11, 1967, all that changed.  In the crowd for the podium celebration were Henry Ford II and team principal Carroll Shelby – both of whom were part of the first baptism by bubbly – when Gurney took hold of the bottle and sprayed the crowd underneath.

The visibility champagne has had at a podium ceremony hasn’t diminished since, and there’s no sign of it slowing down . . .

Hamilton Australia 2008

The Cahier Archive

Button Australia 2009

The Cahier Archive

Champagne’s history in F1 dates back to the first year of the championship in 1950, at the French GP in Reims in the heart of the growing region.  Juan Manuel Fangio won, and racing fans Paul Chandon Moët and his cousin Count  Frédéric Chandon de Brailles offered him a jeroboam of Moët et Chandon.  F1 hasn’t looked back.

Way back then, Champagne was the podium beverage of choice, but bottles weren’t even opened on the podium.  More recently, Champagne’s sponsorship of F1 hit a roadblock in native France, when the country’s ‘Loi Evan’ prohibited visible alcohol branding in media after 1993.

Reinforcing the drink’s role on the podium is a part of its image, but how could Champagne as a region maintain it’s lustre in the country from which it came?  Enter F1 – the luxury brand platform.   With it’s rich history of celebrating with a bottle at the podium, F1 presented a television audience that knows what’s in the bottle, but may not be able to tell who made it.  Worldwide, Champagne’s presence is reinforced by implication and television commentary – except today in some countries where a display of consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by law.

Today, Champagne G H Mumm has partnered with Formula 1, and since 2000, has afforded the brand a place in victory with each race win acting as a platform for Mumm to bring visibility and placement to their ultra premium brands.  Attaching the thrill of victory and the audience’s experience with winning a race or a championship to a product is the kind of placement a luxury or exclusive brand benefits from significantly.

As we look ahead to F1’s return to America, exploring synergies with different brands and placement around the 2012 Austin Grand Prix will be crucial to F1 creating and explioting it’s niche in the United States, and legends like Dan Gurney and their stories only help to give a broader history America has had in F1.  The opportunity to build on what America’s past and potential role is in the sport exsists for fans and brands alike and it’s now up to both fans and brands in America and F1 to create a landscape in which each can find ways to support the growth of Formula 1 in America.

Genesis: The wearing of the bubbly

The Cahier Archive

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