Tag Archives: Austin

F1 to Race Circuit of the Americas in 2012

After months of speculation and a series of delays at the facility, sources close to Circuit of the Americas have confirmed that next year’s race in Austin will be confirmed on the 2012 F1 calendar at the December 7th meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in New Delhi.  A November 18th race has not been verified, but construction schedule delays at the circuit make in increasingly difficult for the previously announced date to advance in the season.

Much has been happening behind the scenes the past week with the recent deadline extension for COTA, with new details regarding leadership and sponsorship to be fleshed out in forthcoming statements.  Recent articles from Pitpass and Autoweek have been commenting on the upcoming announcement and new deal between COTA and Bernie Ecclestone, with tougher terms likely having been negotiated by COTA recently.  Tavo Hellmund, who has been the public figure for much of the time at COTA has also been removed from the team’s webpage.

For American fans of Formula 1, the return of the sport in 2012 to Austin will mark the first race on US soil in over half a decade.

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A Visit to Circuit of the Americas

During a recent visit to Austin, Tilke engineering took the time to show me around the new Circuit of the Americas and share some of the work in progress there.

Building a world class racetrack the scale of Circuit of the Americas is no small endeavor, and this low view from turn 1 shows the scale of what’s involved with this enormous project.

The view from T1

A 3.4 mile grand prix circuit makes for an enormous office, and to find their way around the site, Tilke engineers use Google Earth to make their way around the circuit:

Tilke uses a Google Earth map to get around the office

As a future home to MotoGP and F1, the details count, and everything from the asphalt to slot drains receives the detailed attention of Tilke’s engineers, with input from founder/driver Tavo Hellmund, world champion Kevin Schwantz, and the dedicated engineering and construction professionals who examine every detail of the circuit’s construction.

Texas limestone used in a wall prototype study

Materials used in the new circuit’s construction have been sourced from various locations around Texas, with offices and labs on site dedicated to analysis for use on the track itself as well as in the numerous sub layers and aggregate needed to create a road bed for the final asphalt layers. The final surface of the track must be comprised of a polish-resistant stone, and vary no more than 2mm over a 4 meter width, comparable to a billiard table’s slate surface.

Moisture is a critical factor in the construction of a circuit, as trapped water expands and causes cracks with freezing weather, so record dry Summer in Austin (over 80 days of 100 degree weather this year) has created a good starting point as the grading continues and the track takes shape.

A view of T11 and down the long back straight

Wide runoffs accommodate the high safety demands for F1 and MotoGP, and the massive amount of earth already cleared and sub grade that has been laid down has started to give the site a first feel of what turns will look like from various perspectives.

As we complete our lap looking down the main straight back to turn 1, the excitement building to 2012 sets in – but there’s also a special feeling around the project among the engineers (many of whom currently live in Austin and have built circuits all around the world) – that Austin is a very special destination, and that Circuit of the Americas has been put together with a shared vision for racers and fans alike.

Update:  Beginning January 2012, Circuit of the Americas began releasing a series of stories about the circuit construction process on their website called ‘Track Facts’ and is worth a read.


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A Visit to Austin 2011



“Like a fine plate of barbeque

bear down on the meat

and ease off the potato salad”

This week, I’ve been in Austin enjoying a community of energetic, friendly and downright hospitable folks who’ve all been very supportive and enthusiastic of the upcoming race next year.  While here, I’ve been tweeting a bit from various spots in town, and meeting many whose businesses and livelihoods are due to experience an uptick next November when the race comes to town.

My first visit was with American Stateman Internet Editor Dave Doolittle, and it was great to get such a friendly welcome my first night in town.  Dave’s a local who, like many here, have watched Austin grow over the decades and looks forward to what’s coming next year.  He’s also an avid F1 fan who happens to have had the story of a lifetime land right in his backyard – lucky guy!  His dad’s been a big F1 fan also, and had the foresight to co-found AtlasF1 back in the late 90’s – so F1’s certainly in the family.  Follow Dave’s coverage as he tweets news and events around town as they unfold, you can also check out his coverage on the Statesman online.

A lunchtime crowd waits outside Franklin BBQ

The first full day in town it was time to get down to business, so Franklin BBQ was where I headed.  A serious lunch spot has a serious wait, so after 30 minutes in line I had a chance to sample their delicious ribs and rub elbows with the local crowd.  Funny how long that wait sounds writing it down now, but here in Austin, folks are easy to strike up a chat, even in the 90 degree heat outside.


Ribs are taken seriously . . . this is Texas!

That evening, I met up with San Francisco F1 Group alum Alex Wong, a recent transplant from the city by the Bay, and an amazing guy who’s been behind the scenes as Austin gets ready to go big next year in F1.  We met up with some friends at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar on 6th – and found more music and energy than most cities this size serve up in a single night.  A fantastic evening out, highly recommended.


Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar on 6th – a must see

I’ve got a few days left in town, and just yesterday, Alex and I made it out to the track to meet with our friend Oliver, a civil engineer from Tilke who offered to show us around the circuit.  I was ready with camera in hand, so we ventured out of town and took in the sights while imagining the sounds from America’s first purpose built F1 track in decades . . .







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