Andretti Leads the Welcome for the Return of FORMULA 1 to Austin In November 2012, more than 265,000 motorsport fans experienced the world’s best drivers and fastest race cars at the new $400 million Circuit of The Americas premium sports and entertainment complex in Austin, Texas. On race Sunday, 117,429 people witnessed former Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton claim the top spot on the winners’ podium, making the return of Formula 1 to American soil after a 5-year hiatus one of the sporting events of the year.
Fans descended upon the new Austin-based Circuit in their droves to create what was undoubtedly one of the most atmospheric and exhilarating races in last year’s F1 season. Austin truly lived up to its reputation as one of America’s most exciting and creative cities with a wide range of live music and entertainment options for fans to enjoy within the circuit itself and also downtown. Motorsport fans old and new welcomed Formula 1’s return to the USA with open arms, with the huge turnout over the weekend and the celebratory vibe that spread across the city providing firm evidence that the sport has found a new spiritual home in the Texan state capital. Indeed, the event was so successful that the prestigious Sports Business Journal/Daily subsequently named it the “Sports Event of the Year”.
It is therefore no surprise that current and past stars of F1 are raving about the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX and the world-class facilities at Circuit of The Americas. Racing legend Mario Andretti, the only race car driver to be a Formula 1 World Champion and win the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500, is the Circuit’s official ambassador and was the first professional race car driver to take a full lap in an F1 car around the 20-turn, undulating racetrack in Central Texas prior to its opening in November 2012. He is in no doubt as to just how special last year’s race was:
“I think everyone involved with the race was delighted with the outcome — from Formula One Management, to the COTA staff, to the fans. The venue was fabulous. The crowd was enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy their surroundings. The weather was outstanding and the race was exciting. It was the perfect way to reintroduce Formula 1 racing to the United States. The three-day attendance of more than 265,000 fans shows that F1 can be successful in the United States despite going head-to-head with other, more established U.S. racing series. The trick going forward will be to make sure this is a must-attend race for diehard fans, while finding ways to lure more casual fans and experience-junkies to Austin to try it out. The Circuit of The Americas team is working hard to be responsive to fan needs and they learned a lot in their first year as an F1 host. It won’t be easy, but I think they’re as well positioned as any racetrack to give Formula 1 the real home it needs in our country.”
In anticipation of this year’s FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX, he had this to say:
“Now that the COTA staff has had a year to operate in the new facility, I think you’ll see an even smoother operation when it comes to getting guests in and out of the venue, as well as the overall fan experience at the track. They’re improving their transportation plan from last year which relied heavily on free shuttle buses - and they have identified new and closer parking areas to make the commute from downtown Austin faster. You’ll see more activities away from the track to entertain fans while they’re in Austin, including a bigger and better Fan Festival in the downtown area, new music events, and food events featuring celebrity chefs and some world-class entertainers. All of the style and sophistication you see around the F1 races in Europe will be at the USGP, but with an authentic Texas feel, taste and sound. I can’t wait; it’s going to be a great party in Texas this November.”
More Than Just a Race Track
Not only is Circuit of The Americas currently the sole F1 track in the United States, it is also the only U.S. racetrack to host three World Championship auto racing series (Formula 1, MotoGP and World Endurance Championships) within one year’s time.
Furthermore, since its grand opening in the autumn of 2012, Circuit of The Americas has also hosted the world’s premier motorcycle racing series, MotoGP; V8 Supercars, the most popular motorsport in Australia; and the historic U.S. series GRAND-AM Road Racing. This year the Circuit is also the setting for two of the most popular endurance racing series in the world: the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n and the FIA World Endurance Championships, as well as the U.S. Vintage National Championships and the first leg of the Tour of Austin, a popular bicycle race.
Moreover, in May 2014, the Circuit will stage the prestigious spring/summer edition of the ESPN X Games, bringing thousands of action sports athletes and spectators from around the world to Central Texas for four days of international competition that will be broadcast globally. In securing the rights to host this prestigious event, the Circuit fended off competitive bids from top cities Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte, N.C., to win the games for a four-year period.
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