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Tilke ready to start work on Austin track
The German firm designing the Formula One racetrack in Austin is about to open a local office and already has geologists testing the site in eastern Travis County.

"There is land, there is money, there is a Formula One contract. We are now ready to enter the final stage of the ambitious project," said Christian Epp, a Tilke GmbH executive in charge of the Austin project.

The track and related structures are destined for about 900 acres near Elroy and bordered by FM 812 and McAngus and Elroy roads, about a mile east of Texas 130.

Although the course layout is about 95 percent determined, Epp said questions remain about the type and design of auxiliary buildings.

A preliminary plan shown two months ago to city officials indicated that the project would include a welcome center as well as permanent and temporary grandstands for an event that could attract 100,000 or more fans.

"We have to figure how many buildings and access roads are needed, how in detail to manage the water supply, drainage and power," Epp said. "It's like planning and building a complete new city."

Epp said a Tilke delegation including architects, engineers, geologists and environmental experts will be in Austin for a few days starting Aug. 16 to work on a detailed plan for the track complex that could cost upward of $200 million.

Epp said as many as 20 Tilke employees will be in Austin over the next two years to design and oversee construction of the first U.S. track that is being built specifically for Formula One. Past F1 U.S. races have used NASCAR tracks or other facilities.

F1 organizers have yet to submit requests for permits to the city and Travis County, which will jointly review the plans. But Tilke hopes to begin grading the site in December.

The first race is scheduled to occur in 2012, although the date has not been set.

"The engineers and the contractors tell me it can be built by summer 2012," said Richard Suttle Jr., the attorney for the Austin project, adding that F1 sets the actual race schedule. More at The Statesman

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