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Austin F1 track could reap millions UPDATE The proposed Formula One track that will be the site of the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin could hold 130,000 to 140,000 fans, race promoter Tavo Hellmund said Tuesday.

"It will be the biggest thing Austin has ever had," Hellmund said, adding that 50,000 of those fans could be seated in grandstands while the rest could sit on the grounds, stand or stroll around the track .

Hellmund revealed those details while speaking to an overflow crowd of more than 400 people at the Headliners Club in downtown Austin. He spoke at an event staged by the Urban Land Institute that sparked " an overwhelming response to tell you the truth," said David Knoll, director of the institute's Austin district council.

Hellmund touched on a variety of topics during the speech, including Austin's ideal location for an F1 race because of its proximity to Canada, Mexico and South America. If a couple of young Mexican drivers pan out in the next few years, Hellmund said, many of the F1 fans that head to Austin could come from outside the United States.

"I could see 30,000 or 40,000 people from Latin America coming," he said.

There are currently no U.S. drivers or teams in Formula One, but F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said recently that Danica Patrick would be a great fit for the U.S Grand Prix. She currently races in the IndyCar series and NASCAR.

"If I can steal a couple of American drivers for the weekend, I will," Hellmund said.

Hellmund added that he wanted to stage an exciting race and said there would be "four real passing zones" on the track, which will be about 3.2 miles long and located southeast of Austin on about 900 acres.

Construction is not expected to begin until December. Hellmund said he realizes deadlines are tight but that he was optimistic they would be met.

Peter Wahl, a managing partner of Tilke GmbH, the German firm that is overseeing the design and construction of the track, has been in Austin for the past few days and was on hand for Hellmund's presentation.

Wahl said while construction would have to occur quickly, that was more the norm than the exception with such projects these days.

"It does not frighten us," Wahl said of the 2012 deadline.

Hellmund said the date of the race would not be set until late 2011 but added, "I can assure you it's not July or August." The Statesman

08/24/10 The owners of a proposed Formula One racetrack southeast of Austin anticipate selling the naming rights to various parts of the facility for $7 million, according to recently released public records.

Full Throttle Productions also states in the documents that it hopes to net $12 million annually from non-F1 races such as NASCAR, IndyCar and drag racing, plus an additional $5 million a year from renting the facility for other uses such as moviemaking, automotive testing and concerts.

It is unclear how successful other F1 tracks have been in securing naming rights. Many of the tracks are publicly owned.

The financial projections are contained in papers released this week by the office of state Comptroller Susan Combs. The American-Statesman filed an open records request in late May, soon after the announcement that Austin had been selected to host F1 races starting in 2012. Although the comptroller's office released some of the requested records, it withheld others and asked Attorney General Greg Abbott whether they were legally subject to release. More at The Statesman

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