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USGP draws big Saturday crowd UPDATE #2 Yet another reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Seeing how successful and popular the F1 race is this weekend in Texas it is clear there are plenty of open wheel racing fans out there.  I agree with you, the reason why IndyCar is such a failure is because the people who own it think small, so they will always be small.  IndyCar should be a global series like F1 and it should ditch that horrible NBC Sports TV deal they have (thanks Anton for nothing). It's too bad the series and it owners are so dysfunctional and self-serving.  Oh, and I could not agree more, that new IndyCar is downright hideous looking.  No wonder TV ratings have plummeted from infomercial numbers to a fraction of infomercial numbers.  Who wants to watch Edsels drive around in circles for two hours?  Dana Dunn

11/18/12 Another reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I concur mostly with what you posted in your HotNews item, USGP draws big Saturday crowd, about the transportation plan running fairly smoothly.  My friend and I have a free parking pass for the Event Center parking lot, about 2 miles west of the track and a free shuttle that drops us off at the main entrance gate.  Getting to and from the track wasn't a problem, yesterday or today for us.  There were no signs of shuttle troubles at the track - maybe at other shuttle places?

COTA is a first class track - superb design and layout.  Turn 1 is truly unique and awesome.  We were surprised by the number and extent of elevation changes around the track, including spectator areas  Spectator viewing is great from virtually any vantage point.  Many TV Jumbotrons are available for spectator viewing.  There are lots of friendly volunteers to help answer questions and hand out track brochures.

We took the elevator to the top of the 251 ft. observation tower during F1 practice this morning.  Although it might be a bit costly ($35), to us it was worth it.  You can see every part of the track from there, except the Start/Finish section which is hidden by the pit suites. 

The crowd was noticeably larger today.  We have grandstand seats at Turn 4 and can see Turns 2-5.  Pedestrian flow around our grandstand section almost came to a standstill after F1 qualifying today, but we managed to get through (IndyCar should be so lucky!).  Some of the vendor stands need to be re-located to other places next year to widen pedestrian walk areas.  More vendor stands are needed.  I suppose that will be part of the lessons learned for this year.

Austin is very, very dry, so it's dusty.  They put down a lot of grass seed and netting in many areas, but with people walking over it, nothing will grow until spring, if then, especially with the lack of rain the area has experienced.  We aren't sure why that was done now.  It seems like a waste of money, but grass will be needed to prevent erosion and possibly muddy hillsides from developing in the future.

It's amazing they got this quality track built in the little time they had.  We're looking forward to a great race tomorrow.  Paul J.

Another reader writes, Dear AR1.com, We were in our Turn 1 Grandstands 55 minutes after leaving my house in north Austin. 55 minutes! It takes 40 minutes on a non-race weekend.

The circuit was packed! Full grandstands and every hill covered with people for Qualifying. I'm guessing we hit 100,000 today. General admission is as good for watching a race as any track I've been to in North America (and I've been to them all).

I talked to over 30 people from all over the US, Mexico, and the UK and everyone was thrilled with the venue. No one took more than an hour and half to get from their hotel to the track (I've taken that long at Mid-Ohio). There are plenty of buses and the car traffic is moving smoothly. There are lot's of cars, but they are always moving, never standing still. And remember -- we were expecting 5 HOURS to get to the track! That's what it took me the first year at TMS for the aborted CART race. COTA's plan is working very, very well.

Every track worker I talked to said, "Hi! Welcome to Austin. How can I help you?" They ALL knew what was what and where was where. As we left, they all said, "Bye! See you tomorrow. Hope you had a great day!" And they meant it. Now, I'm a native Texan and that's how we do things, but I was very impressed with the staff and volunteers. They were both knowledgeable and very friendly. Most importantly, I didn't see one single unhappy person all day today or yesterday. Not one. Amazing.

I talked to people from California and Maryland that said the Fan Zone downtown is terrific. They are definitely going back tonight. It's packed with F1 fans. Something like sixteen square blocks in our main entertainment district are closed to vehicles. They said it was great.

The only complaint I've heard is that they need more food and merchandise concessions. The lines for COTA merchandise are UNBELIEVABLE! Usually four or five rows of 50+ people. And they never get smaller!

Looking forward to tomorrow. So far, COTA has done great!  Kerry Vincent

11/17/12 The second day of the U.S. Grand Prix drew a crowd of 82,710 people today, demolishing Friday’s attendance figures, Circuit of the Americas officials said.

On Friday, about 65,000 people came out for the first of several Formula One practice rounds. Aside from long lines for shuttles to leave the tracks and some traffic congestion at the Travis County Expo Center shuttle station, the transportation plan ran fairly smoothly, according to officials and spectators.

But the real test will come on Sunday, the actual Grand Prix race, when some 120,000 spectators are anticipated.
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