How do you summarize an amazing four days in a foreign country where you were welcomed by friendly and fun people from around the world and created lifelong memories and friendships? How do you capture the energy and enthusiasm shared with you from people around the world that proclaim their interest and promise in visiting your hometown in the near future? How do you retell the experience of hearing, smelling, seeing and, most importantly, feeling the rush of a Formula One race car only feet (or meters) away in a legendary city at one of the most historic races of recent history?
Perhaps actions do speak louder than words:
For the F1 newbies, you may be asking yourself: Who is this man and why is he standing on a chair commanding the attention and uproar of a crowded pub, nonetheless talking about the Austin City Council?
Well, what had happened was…Will Buxton sent out a tweet inviting his Twitter followers to meet for drinks in Montreal the night before the Canadian Grand Prix. His pals Karun Chandhok and Charlie Whiting* were in attendance, in addition to many other F1 VIPs.
Will is a gregarious and well-respected F1 pit reporter for SPEED TV Channel in the US. We met Will and he immediately shared his informed concern on recent and upcoming Austin City Council agenda items, although he admits he’s not so sure what happens at American city council meetings (and, who does?).
After meeting Will and mingling with F1 fans from around the world (including a lovely and lively bunch from Vancouver who would have come back to Austin with us if we had enough room in our suitcases :), we were moved, yet not terribly surprised at the support everyone shared for making the Austin Grand Prix happen next year.
The pub was jam-packed with outgoing people from around the world. Their common thread: F1 racing. When Kevin and I booked our Montreal tickets six months ago, we saw the importance and opportunity in experiencing a Formula One race close to home and returning to Austin with stories to share. We are *still* mulling over the 5,000 pictures and hours of video shot.
The more and more people Kevin and I met the more inspiring stories we heard and were able to capture. At one point, I went up to Kevin and told him to have his camera ready, just like at April’s Press Conference with Bob Varsha. I asked Will if he would garner the support of the entire pub so we could send a special message back to Austin and the City Council. We shared the plan with F1 fans throughout the pub, and then Will jumped up on a chair and shared his support, which is felt by F1 and racing fans from around the world:
“MAKE IT HAPPEN!
WE’RE GOING TO COME!
IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING!
MAKE IT HAPPEN!”
So what is Will talking about? You thought everything was approved since the facility construction is progressing nicely? Even the famed Sutton Images had GREAT progress to report from their visit last week.
There has been a lot happening in Austin lately surrounding the Circuit of the Americas (“COTA”) facility and the subsequent Formula One races, which are scheduled to start on June 17, 2012. The most pressing issue is the upcoming Austin City Council meeting to be held this Thursday, June 23. At this meeting, the City Council will be asked to:
1. Approve a resolution authorizing the City Manager to complete the agreement with the Texas Comptroller and proceed with the Major Events Trust Fund (“METF”) establishment with Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix; and
2. Approve a resolution authorizing the newly created Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee (the “LOC”) to act on the City’s behalf and authorizing #1 above.
Let us first say we recognize how confusing and difficult the Austin City Council and Texas Major Events Trust Fund issues are to navigate. The Austin Grand Prix is made up of Formula One fans, but first and foremost, we are proud and loud fans of the great city of Austin, Texas. We support responsible and sustainable growth and expect all actions surrounding Formula One United States Grand Prix and the Circuit of the Americas to be in the best interests of the city of Austin and its bar none citizens.
That being said, we were pleasantly surprised to read about last week’s revelation that Full Throttle Productions, LP (Tavo Hellmund’s entity promoting the race and the major backer) has decided to front the $4M annual city funds required to access the State of Texas’s METF. This means Austin taxpayer support will be eliminated and COTA would still have access to the METF funds which are generated by tax dollars and specifically set aside for major sporting events. (Note: the METF funds CANNOT be reassigned for other state budget issues, such as education, despite knee-jerk statements made by F1 opponents).**
With your active participation last year, we were able to share your support for F1 with the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioner’s Office and we are asking for your loud voices to be heard again. Now we need your help to follow through on Will’s message to MAKE IT HAPPEN!
1. Share Will’s video with your friends and get people to post comments saying “AUSTIN - MAKE IT HAPPEN!” on the Vimeo video page, at the end of this page, on our Facebook page or send a Tweet to @AustinGrandPrix. Anywhere and everywhere!
2. We have found at least three different electronic petitions started by Austin F1 fan groups that could really use your support. Please take the time to sign each one of them and pass them on to your friends as well. You do not need to live in Austin or even Texas to sign these petitions!
3. As with all of our Calls to Action over the past year, your *personalized* and *individual* messages to Austin City Council members go a long way. I have spoken to Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez and he told me he READS EVERY EMAIL! Not his assistant; not someone on his staff; but him personally. I don’t know about you but I have a hard enough time keeping up on email. He has received over 2,000 emails regarding the upcoming June 23 meeting. Can we double that? (Sorry Mike! ;)
The Austin City Council consists of the following respectable individuals:
We suggest you make the subject of your message: “AUSTIN – MAKE IT HAPPEN!” and include a personal message regarding your feelings about F1 in Austin 2012.
4. Attend the City Council meeting this Thursday by following the instructions posted on this page: Citizen Participation. As mentioned earlier, the Austin City Council will meet at 10:00AM CST this Thursday, June 23 at the Office of the City Clerk, City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street, Suite 1120, Austin, Texas 78701.
5. If you cannot attend this week’s Council meeting, you can watch it live online via the City of Austin’s Channel 6. Although please be patient, as we had so many viewers tune in once that we crashed the live webcast – whoopsie!
Thank you for seeing this article through to the very end. As with all great things, nothing is simple. We look forward to your support and seeing you in Austin in 2012 – MAKE IT HAPPEN!
*The real Charlie Whiting on Twitter, however the Fake Charlie Whiting IRL (legally).
**This is our very brief summary of the METF issues. Luckily, our friends at the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Business Journal and Austin Chronicle have spent many hours hashing it out (just click on their hyperlinked names).
The Austin American-Statesman just posted this: Don Hoyte, a former economist for the comptroller's office, releases new economic predictions for Austin's Formula One race. Check out the article here.
More great news as the Austin City Council prepares for their meeting this Thursday.