Guest Author - Katie Schwausch
In 2010, a four-year absence of Grand Prix racing in the United States will end when a brand-new racetrack makes its debut in Texas. Held off and on at various locations since 1908, the most recent was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the race was held every year between 2000 and 2007. The track was purpose-built for NASCAR, just one big oval going 'round and 'round.The Grand Prix, however, was held on an infield road course that had been added in the late nineties, and consisted of 2.6 miles of straights and turns. The inaugural season set a new attendance record for Formula 1, with a crowd estimated at 225,000, and paved the way for additional international racing events. Unfortunately, in 2005, tire troubles led to the withdrawal of seven of the ten teams. With only three teams (six cars) on the track, the race was a considered a joke and concerns were raised regarding the future of Formula 1 in the United States. The race the following year turned out be the last.
The future of a U.S. Grand Prix seemed hopeless ...until now. The 2012 season will mark the return of Formula 1 to the United States. An announcement was made, no doubt many have heard during this season, that a racetrack is to be built in Texas, a stone's throw from the Capitol. Tavo Hellmund of Full Throttle Productions, LP, and Red McCombs, owner of McCombs Partners, are the team behind the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. Their efforts to bring the race back to the United States began soon after its departure from Indianapolis, and the hard work is finally paying off.
The 3.4-mile, 20-turn circuit will be the first track purpose-built for Formula 1 in the U.S., at an estimated cost of $250 million. The design takes advantage of the Hill Country terrain, providing natural elevation changes and excellent audience views of the racing action. The choice of location will mean easier access for fans from North, South, and Central America. Austin is located three hours' drive from Dallas, and just over two hours from Houston, and the city is just plain cool. Billed as the live music capital of the world, it has a vibe all its own, with dozens of music venues, great restaurants, and a beautiful setting in the Texas Hill Country. It seems most racing events are all about the race (duh), but holding the race in Austin means fun away from the track as well.
The 2012 season seems so far away to fans who thought this day might never come, but fear not. The time will fly by. As a Texan, I am thrilled Formula 1 chose Austin, but I wouldn't care if they had opted for some other state. Formula 1 is coming back to the U.S. Whoo-hoo!