Abu Dhabi Grand Prix offers glitzy glimpse of things to come in Austin
As the day ends, pit crews soap and scrub down tires at the paddock. Rad Weaver of San Antonio pauses, smiles and takes a look around him.
"When you think about all they have accomplished here in just three years," he said on a balmy evening Friday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, "coming here makes me realize how much more work we've got to do."
In just a few years, Abu Dhabi's leaders carved up an uninhabited desert isle, transforming it into a Formula One marina to rival Monaco. On the Yas Marina circuit, the race cars roar and screech underneath the Yas Hotel, the spectators gaping from above. Next door at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, wanna-be drivers get their thrills at what's billed as the world's largest indoor theme park.
Weaver, a University of Texas graduate who is helping lead Austin's F1 project for McCombs Enterprises, said he is confident that Austin, too, will be ready to host the world's Grand Prix fans in 2012. San Antonio billionaire Red McCombs is a key investor in the venture, organized by Austin promoter Tavo Hellmund.
While Formula One Austin has the same German architectural and design firm that designed Yas, Weaver said their track will have signature Central Texas touches.
"We'll take advantage of the natural undulations in the topography," he said. "Here, in Abu Dhabi, it's flat. You can't really see over the track in a lot of places. We'll do it where you'll have a lot of great vantages to see the cars."
The spectacle will be viewed not only by the 300,000 fans Weaver expects to descend on the Texas capital for the week of the race. About 100 million fans around the world tune in by television for each Grand Prix.
"We'll open up eyes around the world to Austin," he said. More at The Statesman