FIA Official Visits Austin
Promoters for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™ revealed that a top U.S. auto racing official made an official visit to Austin, TX to review the site, plans and development progress of the first purpose–built F1 racetrack in the United States and site of the 2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™. Nick Craw, president of the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States and Senate president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the Formula 1™ sanctioning body, toured the 900–acre site, met with Formula 1 United States team members as well as local, city and state officials and gave the project development plan his approval and a strong “thumbs up.”
“It will be great,” Craw said of the proposed Austin track. “This has some of the most interesting, exciting and different features, drawn from other successful venues around the world. It is a very strong team they’ve assembled here,” Craw continued, “I think it’s a very good plan and a very solid business model. They've set the bar pretty high.”
Craw’s visit to Austin also included meetings with Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Travis County Judge Samuel T. Biscoe, Formula 1 United States team members and Peter Wahl, managing partner of Tilke GmbH – leading designer for racetracks and test facilities throughout the world and, most importantly, the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™ track in Austin.
Tavo Hellmund, chairman of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, said, ”We were pleased to have Mr. Craw and Tim Mayer, alternate FIA delegate, visit the facility site and meet the incredible team assembled to build and operate what we believe will be one of the premiere racetracks on the circuit and a world–class venue. Our team is committed to building more than a racetrack, we are thinking far beyond the expected and are developing an environment that will provide an entertainment experience for both participants and spectators alike.”
“The track design has been developed with the drivers and spectators in mind,” Wahl said. “The drivers want to have high-speed corners; that’s what they like. We want to force them to faults and errors; otherwise, the race is not interesting for the spectator. When we design a racing experience, we must consider both points of view to have a truly successful event.“
The surrounding landscape of the 3.4–mile circuit allows for maximum elevation changes and a combination of more than 20 turns. Drivers and fans will have the opportunity to enjoy views of the scenic hill country at this state–of–the–art facility that will hold 120,000 fans. The conceptual master plan features additional visitor attractions including a proposed driving/riding experience and seminar building, motorsports driving club, kart track and welcome center.
According to recent reports, the federation will consider a proposal in November to return to the former requirement that new Grand Prix facilities pass inspection at least 90 days before a race. Craw stated, “That probably protects everybody’s interest a little better than running right up against the event,“ but he then added, “if the U.S. Grand Prix didn’t want that rule, he would lobby against it.“
Wahl, managing partner of Tilke GmbH and designer of the Korean track stated, in an interview last week he wouldn’t be a fan of a 90–day rule. “We always get a time frame that is very short these days,” Wahl said. “If the (U.S.) race was held in May or April, that would give only one year for construction.”
“While we would love to have the luxury of having a completed track 90 days in advance of the event date – the schedule, much like the construction schedule for the last five grand prix track developments and races added to the schedule, will potentially not afford us this opportunity,” said Hellmund. “All of these events have been successful in their own right and it wouldn’t make sense to invoke a 90–day mandate now, that would affect only one track in the world – ours,” he concluded.