Austin to be surprise future home of US GP

Austin will host the US GP from 2012. It looks good at night...

Bernie Ecclestone has used his website to announce that a US GP will be held in Austin, Texas from 2012 to 2021. It will be the first F1 event held in the state since the one-off race at Dallas in 1984.

The news comes just days after the Monticello facility in New York State told the media that it was pitching for a race.

It had long been assumed that Ecclestone would settle only for a race in California, Florida, Las Vegas or New York, so the Austin deal comes a major surprise.

The Austin event will be promoted by Full Throttle Productions, a company with an involvement in NASCAR via Thunder Hill Raceway, a track 20 minutes south of Austin which hosts a Grand National race.

Ecclestone says a new facility will be built for the race in what is the USA’s 15th largest city. The Thunder Hill site is on 38 acres, and it remains to be seen whethe that’s where the F1 track will be built. 

The company’s managing partner Tavo Hellmund said in the statement: “We are extremely honoured and proud to reach an agreement with the F1 Commercial Rights holder. We have been diligently working together for several years to bring this great event to Austin, the State of Texas, and back to the United States. All parties involved have a great amount of trust and confidence in each other and are committed to establishing the F1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas as a prestigious global event.

“This is a case of the right timing in the right place. As many Americans know, Austin has earned a reputation as one of the ‘it’ cities in the United States. Austin features that rare combination of ideal geographic location and beauty. Its fine dining, world-renowned hospitality and excellent transportation infrastructure make Austin ideally suited to host and manage an event of this magnitude.

“Few cities if any on America could rival the connectivity of all the key elements needed for hosting an F1 event as well as Austin. Now, many people around the world will have the opportunity to experience a world-class event, facility and city.”

The event clearly has the support of the city and state authorities, something that hasn’e been forthcoming with other potential US GP projects.

29 Comments

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29 responses to “Austin to be surprise future home of US GP

  1. Stovall

    I especially love this quote:
    ““Few cities if any on America could rival the connectivity of all the key elements needed for hosting an F1 event as well as Austin.”

    How about Indianapolis, braintrust?!? Ohhh wait, we wouldn’t bend over far enough for Bernie. Nevermind that we have a ton of hotel space, and add to it constantly. We also have a deep racing history. Or the fact it was one of the highest races in attendance on the calendar. He just didn’t like all the empty seats. Perhaps he needs to realize there are very few events in this country that could fill half those seats. He should be honored it broke 100k+.

    Don’t let Bernie and Co. fool you, Austin. First chance he gets to bail on a deal, he’ll take it!

  2. Hercules40

    That is the stupidest decision Bernie Ecclestone has ever made. I would have went to a NY Grand Prix. I would have went back to Indy. Bernie didn’t like Indy because he wasn’t getting enough money. But Texas? The most backwards State in the Union? The same State that is re-writing History because they don’t like it, and they don’t agree with it? What an idiot! Sorry Bernie. I hope the Texas race is a complete failure, because I will not be attending.

    • ElChiva

      “I hope the Texas race is a complete failure, because I will not be attending.”

      Signed

      Chuck Norris

      LOL

  3. Alex

    Of all the places is US it had to be Austin???
    And it will be designed by Tilke no doubt?
    And what about the time differences? Since great big lot of f1 fans live in Europe, what kind of a race would it be? day or night or dawn or whatever else?

  4. Black Knight

    I still can’t believe it. There needs to be some research done on who is really behind this deal. There is more to this than the Thunder Hill bullring group. The financials will be interesting.
    I can see Dell, Texas Instruments, HP and big oil having the resources to support this, but no mention. I suspect the Europeans may not have a high comfort level about traveling to Texas for a holiday.

  5. Sonta-Antero

    I am in Finland

    “Time zone EET (UTC+2)
    Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)”

    and I am absolutely not worried about the time difference!

  6. Colin

    This is easily the dumbest thing I have ever seen. Indy is a spectacular venue and really at this moment the only one that can handle a F1 outing. I am an American that has been starving for a race but I am simply not wasting my time on this. Put it on a proper American track or get the hell out. Sorry Texas but I hope this falls on its face.

    • Ben

      “Sorry Texas but I hope this falls on its face.”

      So you’d rather not have a race at all than have one in Texas?

      outstanding.

  7. Varius

    I have to question the rationality of the decision, after Bernie has been quoted as saying that Indianapolis was the wrong place with the wrong people. How exactly is Austin better for F1? I would imagine that the NASCAR to F1 fan ratio there is ridiculously in favor of NASCAR whereas the ratio may be a bit more F1 friendly in east/west cities such as New York, LA, Las Vegas, or Miami.

    Regardless, I am pleased that F1 is returning to the US and hopefully I’ll be able to net a ticket to the inaugural Texas GP.

    Let us all pray Tilke doesn’t design the track though…

  8. RedLineTire

    Not gonna’ happen – building a brand new F1 standard race track with 100% private funds? How on earth would those numbers work? Seats will be US$12k to start?

    Unless they can get a NASCAR date as well, this isn’t going work. And they’re not likely to get a NASCAR date…

    • Martin Collyer

      “…they’re not likely to get a NASCAR date…”

      Please explain why not, I’m not a US citizen so I don’t understand NASCAR matters too well.

  9. capo

    Wow, I’m glad to see some of you hicks won’t be visiting the finest region in Texas. More room for true fans and those that actually know what they are talking about when discussing F1 fans and the region picked. Bring it! GO AUSTIN!

  10. Elio C

    You ignorant fools…Austin is a great place! NY?! LV? INDY? Indy had it’s chance, but downtown Indy is so boring, it offered nothing. NY, they don’t even drive, it’s all cabs and subways.

    Austin will be a great venue, we have the $$, sophistication and world class services to host a world event (unless you have not been here – shut your pie-whole)!

    Thanks Bernie, I’ll be the first in line to buy my tickets! VIP tickets!

  11. Where is the money coming from?

    This guy promoted some stock car stuff at a 3/8th mile bull ring south of Austin a few years ago.

    And now he has the rights for 10 years? And no facility? So where is the money coming from to build it? Answer me that, and I might believe. Otherwise, I think this is just a guy getting used by Bernie, who has other options he’s working on…

    • Lot of questions at the moment. Seems to be that promoting a GP and building/operating a facility to hold it and make it a going concern are two completely different things. Some of the new government backed venues have managed to do it but with huge staffs and at massive costs and with no real chance of the actual track ever breaking even. And as you say that sounds like a lot for a guy who has run a minor stock car event at a small local track, albeit successfully it seems.

  12. gwbaker

    Austin IS a wonderful town. It has a culture of it’s own that belies the typical impression one has of Texas. Take a drive out of town in any direction and that becomes apparent VERY quickly. Austin is the state capital and home to a couple of significant annual events, SXSW among them, that attract visitors from across the country and, to a lesser extent, from around the world.

    That said, I don’t think it lends itself to an ideal American F1 venue and that should be the aim here. I’m sure they could build something state-of-the-Tilke-art, but it will be good money after bad in that part of the country where CART and NASCAR are more at home than F1. I agree that it is very unlikely to pencil out favorably. An east coast (or time zone) location also makes so much more sense from a broadcast point of view.

    I suspect that this will become more of a Donington Park outcome with a stronger more suitable location trumping Austin in the end.

    Never a dull moment in F1!

    • Donington Park could well end up being the scenario that plays out here! As you say everything I read about Austin is positive, but the question is whether it’s the right place for a race that has proved so difficult to find a home for over the years.

  13. guytano

    First reaction: Austin what huh?

    So no usgp before 2012 even with indy ready and available now? Not another sterile tilke track i hope, each one he does seems like a varied iteration of his last. If it even happens.

  14. Luke G

    I couldn’t agree more Elio. Have any of you people ever been to Austin? It is right in the middle of Texas with 22 Million plus people within 3 hours driving distance. Beautiful hill country, lakes, rivers, nightlife, restaurants….Austin is the perfect location. Don’t judge before you check it out.

  15. mt

    Folks, I would suggest reading the Austin, Tx. city newspaper (statesman) online re: all of this. I’ve never been to Austin but I have been in San Antonio and Wichita Falls Tx. The state of Texas is essentially featureless & flat. The exception is the extreme western part of the state with some hills/mountains and the city of San Angelo and that’s about it. Lakes & rivers, someone wrote. Huh? I want a USGP but all these reports are insane!

    • Lone Star F1 Fan

      “I’ve never been to Austin but I have been in San Antonio and Wichita Falls Tx. The state of Texas is essentially featureless & flat” wrote mt.

      You OBVIOUSLY haven’t been anywhere near the Austin area. It’s in the Texas “Hill Country” which is positively lovely; rolling hills, beautiful rivers, trees, ANYTHING BUT “featureless & flat.”

      Houston and Dallas may meet that topographic description but not Austin. Visit sometime and see.

      Austin is a wonderful and picturesque city.

      Welcome F1 to Texas. Too much trASCAR already.

      • mt

        Your quick on the uptake! I OBVIOUSLY stated I’d never been in Austin & OBVIOUSLY stated where I HAD been. The rolling hills of the state of Connecticut are one thing but PLEASE do not cheerlead & ergo mislead others. Rolling hills of Austin is OBVIOUSLY a relevant term (indeed). Especially when flogged by the Chamber of Commerce & real-estate folks.

      • mt

        And here’s a couple of videos as a sample of Austin, Tx. Let the viewer judge for themselves!

    • Elio C

      Wha? Showing an outdated video of downtown, really? That’s your reasoning for your comments?

      From looking at that video, it appears to be ~15 years old. If you have read or heard anything lately, Austin has had a boom in growth over the last decade! About hill country? – your video shows absolutely nothing of the Austin Hill Country.

      Why don’t you come down and visit for yourself, before you make unwarranted comments.

      Austin is proud and ready to host F1.

  16. Stovall

    If someone read my comment (at the very top) as anti-Austin, they’re sadly mistaken. I have family in Austin, and odds are I would stay with them and still attend the race. I’m more anti-Bernie and the impersonal way he handles the sport. He’s so out of touch with the fans, it’s insulting.

    And, Elio, I’ve lived in (downtown) Indianapolis my entire life (36 years) and it’s not that boring. It’s no Monaco, but we have a lovely downtown area and ample hotel space for visitors. I don’t know what you expected it to “offer.” People are/were here for a race. If it’s pretentiousness you’re looking for, then I’m quite pleased you didn’t find it in Indy. And judging from the generalized insults you hurled about other cities, I think you’ve already said enough for us to form an opinion of you.

    Bottom line: F1 belongs in Indy. Tony George didn’t want to strap additional debt on the tax-payers by asking for help with Bernie’s 30mil. fee (as Irsay/Colts decided to do with the construction of that unnecessary stadium @ a cost of $750+mil). I can’t imagine Austin/Texas tax-payers will be afforded the same courtesies.

    • Taihou

      The track is going to be built on the east side of Austin which is much more flat, but if you think rolling hills is “relative” you have never been to the Texas Hill Country. Basically I35 divides the flatter “black lands” and the start of the hill country on the west side.

      http://www.idealdestinations.com/article_pictures/46_hill-country.jpg is an example.

    • Elio C

      Stovall – you made my point for me. Indy is ONLY about the race. Formula 1 is about racing and so much more. It’s about celebrating the host city and country.

      When people talk about F1 races, they talk about Barcelona, Silverstone, Melbourne, etc. They don’t talk about the specific GP but of where it is, people and culture.

      Just look at Singapore and its nightlife and culture-melting-pot. It is a great city state, where one can take in fun, culture and goodwill, all on top of an awesome F1 race.

      Austin is a city with great culture, nightlife, wine country, music and now we have F1 to showcase our town to the world!

  17. gwbaker

    48 hrs later (or so) and I am beginning to see the light. Austin, in its own right, is a wonderful city (as I have said). If you’ve ever been there for the SXSW (South by Southwest conference and festival) you have a special place in your heart for its charms.

    I was taken aback by the choice for an F1 venue because it seemed so out of left field. It may, in fact, be a very smart choice as it is located in such a way as to draw real fans from the south and western U.S. as well as Mexico and Central America. With Canada back on the schedule it makes less sense to concentrate two races in that region by adding another in NY (even if it would help with the logistics for FOM).

    Mr. E. is as sharp as ever. Say what you will about his methods, but the simple fact is we still love and support F1 and he still keeps looking for ways to bring it to a wider crowd. He only takes what others are willing to give. I see no heir apparent in sight, certainly no one with better ideas, more energy, commitment or (!) incentive.

    I hope this doesn’t become another Donington Park saga. I, for one, will be very interested to see the elements of this deal and the resulting track take shape.

    Onward!

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