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Austin Ambassadors

Alexander Rossi To Join Austin Fashion Event

Alexander Rossi (Photo courtesy
American driver Alexander Rossi will be in Austin next week for Austin Fashion Week's kick-off event, "Shift Into Style," which is being presented by Circuit of The Americas and the Circuit Events Host Committee

// Alexander Rossi

Most American F1 fans are quite familiar with Alexander Rossi as he is the only American currently with an FIA super license, the license all F1 drivers must hold to participate in F1. With such credentials, he is Test Driver for the Caterham F1 Team and competing for Arden Caterham in the Renault 3.5 series, part of the World Series by Renault, the championship in which he finished third in his rookie season in 2011. In addition to an impressive resume in motorsports, Rossi has earned 136 starts with an extremely impressive 38 wins and 33 pole positions. American fans embrace Rossi as he is the most immediate and promising future American F1 driver - something that we haven't seen since Scott Speed in 2007.

Born in California and currently residing in the UK, Rossi understands the important role fashion plays in international motorsport events. F1 drivers are frequently sought after by corporate sponsors for endorsements and advertising campaigns, and Rossi’s elite status has exposed him to opportunities in the fashion industry through print and runway modeling.

// Shift Into Style

On Friday, August 10, Austin's annual week of fashion will kick off with an exceptional fashion party and fundraiser at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Runway shows will feature Austin designers, gourmet food and live entertainment at this prestigious event. Seizing the opportunity to marry motorsports and style, Circuit of The Americas will welcome more than one-thousand guests to witness VIPs from the fashion and motorsports industries and unveil the outfits to be worn by the COTA Girls at this November's Inaugural Formula 1 race. COTA Girls are stylish ambassadors who will be part of the color and pageantry during the race week festivities. Local fashion talent, of Fashion Star™ fame, Ross Bennett designed the COTA Girls’ collection for the 2012 USGP and will be on hand for the unveiling. Bennett added:

This is one of the most unique design projects and it’s an honor to have been chosen for this special assignment in my hometown. Formula 1 events draw sophisticated fans from around the world. We expect Shift Into Style to highlight the important role fashion plays in international motorsports.

Geoff Moore, CMO at COTA, went on to explain:

Formula 1 Grands Prix are very fashion-focused experiences, and we expect Shift Into Style to get our guests excited for the fall season while providing a preview of what we expect to see at the Circuit this November.

// Beyond Austin

Last month COTA also announced that First Lady of Texas, Anita Perry, will open the AFW festivities by welcoming guests to the Bob Bullock Museum for Shift Into Style. She is also excited to take part in the event:

The U.S. Grand Prix will bring the attention of the entire world to Central Texas, giving people from many nations the chance to see the unique blend of cultures that our state has to offer. From music and history to our vibrant and growing fashion and arts communities, Texas has something for everybody. I am so pleased to take part in this truly special event that adds to the diverse culture that has made the Lone Star State an international attraction.

Offering Texans a unique opportunity to understand the world of F1 up close and personal, F1 cars from Williams F1 Team, Lotus-Pirelli and Michael Schumacher's Ferrari F1 world championship car will be on display at the event. In addition, an F1 timeline photography exhibition by premier F1 international photographers, Sutton Images, will be on display and take guests on a visual journey through the last 60+ years of F1. If you missed it last month, check out our interview with Keith and Mark Sutton from Formula Expo.

// Beyond Fashion

One of the best parts about this unique event is that its impact will go beyond the glossy magazines and red carpet. COTA has chosen Seton Breast Cancer Center and Dell Children's Blood and Cancer Center as beneficiaries for the evening's event. A silent auction will offer guests the opportunity to raise money for local, worthy causes and take home fabulous items, including:

  • VIP tickets to the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX
  • VIP tickets to the race kickoff reception and luncheon
  • VIP tickets to a private reception during race week
  • Tickets for a track ride in the Circuit’s F1 3-seater
  • Tickets to one of the weekend outdoor concerts

Rossi may have summarized it best:

Fashion is something I have grown to appreciate, and it’s great to see Austin’s fashion community embrace F1 style. Central Texas is going to be a fantastic place to host a Grand Prix and all of the fashion-forward guests who attend Formula 1 races. Shift Into Style will be a great way to launch Austin’s Fashion Week and start the official countdown to the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX at Circuit of The Americas this November. I feel privileged to work with Circuit of Americas for this event and I’m also very proud of my affiliation with Caterham F1 Team. I thank Team Principal Tony Fernandes for this and the opportunity he has given me within the team and I will continue to work hard to embrace the American commercial objectives for Caterham F1 Team, Formula 1 as a sport and Circuit of the Americas.

// Details

What: Austin Fashion Week Kick-Off Event, Shift Into Style

When: Friday, August 10, 2012 from 8:00PM - 11:00PM

Where: Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 N. Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701

Who: Circuit of The Americas, Circuit Events Host Committee, Austin Fashion Week, Alexander Rossi and more TBA

Fashion Lineup: Ross Bennett, Keepers, Ferrari, The Danes Collection and Linda Asaf

Food and Drinks: Parkside, Olive & June, Backspace, Truluck's, Iron Cactus, Siena and Sentelli's

Cost: $85 per ticket

// Click HERE to purchase your tickets!

Racing Legend Mario Andretti Joins COTA as Ambassador

Mario Andretti tours COTA in Austin, TX.  All images by Circuit of the Americas © 2012

Early this morning, Circuit of The Americas announced that American racing legend Mario Andretti has joined them as an official ambassador.  Mario's unparalleled experience in motorsports makes him a perfect ambassador for COTA, working with them to promoting Formula 1 and other motorsports in Austin.

Mario visited the circuit a few days ago, for a first hand look at his trip to Austin, check out this short video on his experience at COTA:


Mario Andretti visits Circuit of The Americas from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.


Here's a link to the official release and Dave Doolittle had a chance to learn more in this exclusive Q&A with Mr. Andretti.

Austin International Scenes Join Forces

// Overview

Last Thursday we joined forces with EuroCircle, the largest international networking group in Austin, to create a new networking opportunity for Europeans and F1 fans.

The welcoming patio at Paggi HouseKevin and I were first introduced to EuroCircle last August at a downtown happy hour at Hank’s Garage, across the street from the Four Seasons Hotel. We really enjoyed meeting such an outgoing and diverse crowd of people that had so much to share. Since then, I’ve attended more EuroCircle events as they are always at the best downtown locations, such as the W Hotel in Austin and Paggi House-an upscale Austin restaurant with ambient patio space, amazing food and a lively and engaging bar scene.

// French Influence in Austin

Our co-host was Ms. Allison Berguin, a friend that shares a mutual interest in motorsports but is more seasoned in motorcycles than I am (we joke that I am getting my motorcycle license this year; I believe she is holding me to it). I have been learning more about MotoGP from Allison, who is originally from France but has been living in Austin for the past 6 years. She is an avid motorsports enthusiast who was introduced to MotoGP by attending her first race in Indianapolis back in 2010. Since watching my first MotoGP race last year I’ve been working to learn more about the sport and have fun while doing it. Allison has been a great teacher and I know she is really excited about all the motorsports events that are coming to Austin, but we’re both keeping our fingers crossed that the MotoGP contractual issues are resolved with COTA as we will be some of the loudest cheerleaders in Austin for this series!

// Background on EuroCircle

Kaisa Kokkonen, Founder of EuroCircleEuroCircle was founded by Kaisa Kokkonen, a Finnish lawyer who moved to New York in 1992 feeling burnt-out and somewhat bored after a ten-year legal career. When she moved to New York the Internet was still in its infancy. She wanted to create an informal community for European professionals & Europhiles – married or single – and it has now grown to more than 100,000 members. With no political, religious or ethnic affiliations, EuroCircle is a place where you can exchange ideas, tips, professional contacts, make friends and more. You can meet people offline at local events or online through the membership features.

After more than 10 years and thousands of events in hundreds of cities, EuroCircle now welcomes and attracts professionals and expats from all over the globe, from London to Los Angeles or New York to Johannesburg. Learn more about EuroCircle by visiting their website, or searching for Facebook groups specific to your city of interest (e.g. EuroCircle Austin, EuroCircle New York, EuroCircle Barcelona).

// Successful Event

Kaisa enjoyed the event and had this to say:

EuroCircle and the Austin Grand Prix was definitely the right kind of mix...the diverse mix of Europeans, other expats and local F1 fans were busy sharing different ideas in perfect harmony. Allison, Kerri and Kevin were great hosts meeting and introducing everyone around. Icenhauer's as a venue is a bit different that suits well for many Europeans' tastes.  It is slightly more upscale, very modern and simple with great outdoor space both in the back and front of the "cottage" along the trendy Rainey Street.  I am sure this will be on the of many joint events with the Austin Grand Prix and EuroCircle - after all F1 is one of the most watched sports in Europe.

Allison with Marco Simoncelli at MotoGP in Indianapolis 2010. RIP MarcoAllison Berguin added:

The first joint event between EuroCircle Austin and The Austin Grand Prix was a great success. Icenhauer's kindly let us use their space to accommodate over 100 people! The reunion of both groups made a powerful impact on members of each group. EuroCircle brought many Europeans and people with interest in the European culture. The Austin GP brought avid F1 fans and people who want education in regards to this new thrilling sport coming to Austin in November. Conversations were fluid as each person had a story to share and to teach. I am already writing down ideas for our next event! Hurrah!

Thank you to Allison, Kaisa and Icenhauer’s for all of your work in making this a successful one-of-a-kind event in downtown Austin. As Allison said, we are already planning our next event, so sign up for our Newsletter to stay updated.

Guest Lecture at The University of Texas at Austin

Last week I had the pleasure to speak to two of Professor Herb Miller's undergraduate marketing classes at The University of Texas at Austin ("UT").

I started off by asking the students who in the lecture hall was already familiar with Formula 1™ and was pleasantly surprised with about 30-40% of the class raising their hands. I went on to discuss a brief history of the sport and share some heart-pounding sounds and sights of F1. They were early classes so if the students had missed out on their morning coffee, that surely awoke their senses. I then spoke about what The Austin Grand Prix was doing for Austinites and international motorsport fans, and how we've used social media to grow our business.

Professor Miller added:

I have become a Formula One  fan over the last year and a half and I wanted to expose my students to a sport that is the most watched sport in the world. I also wanted UT students (10% of which are international students and are more aware of F1 Racing), to see the value of using ‘social media’ to market and expose the world to this exciting sport and the upcoming November 2012 Austin Formula One Race. I constantly tell my students that marketing is key to the success of any venture or idea and The Austin Grand is using a very popular medium to market and expose the sport to Austin and the world community.

It was great to connect with so many students and spread awareness within the collegiate community. The Formula 1excitement continues to grow in Austin!

Great Race, Great Friends, Great Watch Party

// Downtown Watch Party

Our eleventh watch party in downtown Austin was hosted by Lavaca Street Bar for the Chinese Grand Prix. As with all of our events, there's always a very strong mix of new visitors, averaging around thirty percent over our events this past year. Sunday's event was an exception, with nearly fifty percent of the 75+ attendance visiting the downtown watch party for the first time ever. 

This great balance of old and new fans is making a great conversational environment, allowing those of all knowledge levels to participate and feel welcome. Our more seasoned fans helped to welcome newcomers to the sport by offering advice and sharing their experiences with each other. Most conversations in the room, if not about the exciting race itself, usually focus on individuals sharing their first race experience or excitement for the future GP in Austin.

With a great crowd in attendance, the energy was right for the stunningly entertaining Chinese GP. We all helped congratulate Mercedes GP driver Nico Rosberg on his first win in the sport and Mercedes' first win in 57 years as a factory team. The race had all of the elements to make for great viewing, so good company to watch with on a Sunday afternoon make it all the more enjoyable.  

// Lavaca Street Bar

Our guests raved about the Chinese-themed food provided - fresh egg rolls, savory pots tickers, teriyaki flavored wings, ribs that rival the best local BBQ joints and a fresh noodle & veggie mix. It's no surprise everyone enjoyed the food; Lavaca Street's menu is being redeveloped by Casey Fannin, an amazing chef and close friend of Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko restaurants. If you didn't know before enjoying the fare, it was evident after as the food was delicious!

At the end of the race we raffled off a copy of the SENNA movie DVD and a movie poster to continue to spread the word about this amazing film.  If you haven't seen it, check out the trailer here and rent it on Netflix or buy a copy here. Congratulations to Kärt Klein; enjoy the movie - again! (She has seen it before and is a big fan!)

A very special thanks goes out to DNA Events for their production expertise and support to help make this event possible.  In addition, a special thanks to Premiere Party Central for their donations of the chinese-themed table decor, and thanks to Paul Walhus of for stepping up as our photographer at the last minute.

// What's Next?

We're already back in planning mode for our next watch party. We've decided to focus on a hand-picked number of watch parties this season in order to create truly engaging fan experiences. But you won't have to wait long to see your F1 friends and meet new Austinites!

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 19, we're hosting a joint happy hour with EuroCircle - "a free informal community for expats and Europeans or Europhiles." Come celebrate the diversity of Austin at this international networking event and learn about Formula 1™ coming to Austin. Join us back at Icenhauer's tomorrow night from 6:00PM - 10:00PM for networking and mingling over cocktails and light hors d'oeuvres. Icenhauer's is located on the famed Rainey Street and you will feel truly welcome in this renovated 1895 home with an expansive patio and cool drinks!

Icenhauer's - 83 Rainey StreetWhat: Happy Hour with EuroCircle and The Austin Grand Prix

When: Thursday, April 19, 6:00PM - 10:00PM

Where: Icenhauer's, 83 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

Why: Let’s celebrate the diverse crowd that Austin welcomes and embraces as well as the fantastic arrival of F1 in Austin!

Hosts: Kaisa Kokkonen (EuroCircle), Allison Berguin (France) and Kerri Olsen (The Austin Grand Prix)

Cost: Free

Parking: On surrounding streets and a pay lot where Rainey Street intersects with Driskill Street

Facebook Invite Here


Formula 1 Re-Signs With Austin for 2012


We have recieved confirmation from our reliable sources that Austin is a go for 2012, but there will be some changes with the various partners involved.  These details will likely make their way out in the next 12 hours, so at this point we are still unclear what issues were resolved with the revised contract.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster ride the last few weeks with the statements by Formula 1 head Bernie Ecclestone and Circuit of The Americas, regarding the fate of Austin's future race.  Tavo Hellmund's press conference also made it clear that there were some serious issues that needed to be worked out within the COTA organization, but the parts of the puzzle are still yet to be solved.


Pit Pass is also reporting from their sources the same confirmation.

Stephen Cole Smith at Autoweek also reporting that a deal may be reached.


 Peter Habicht of pointed out that the Circuit of The Americas website no longer lists Tavo Hellmund as a partner; he was previously listed as "Founding Partner."  Very interesting...


Andrew Benson (BBC), Alan Baldwin (Reuters) and Adam Cooper are stating that an unchanged 2012 F1 race calendar has been released but not yet confirmed by the World Motor Sport Council. We'll continue to stay on top of this.


Offically confirmed by Circuit of The Americas and Formula 1: Details here