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Call To Action!

Formula 1 Helps Japan

On March 11th this year, a devastating earthquake shook Japan, displacing thousands and leaving a permanent mark on Japan.  The recovery process has been long underway, but much work remains and many residents have still yet to return to their homes and start rebuilding.

With the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, the Formula 1 community is stepping up their efforts to aid Japan.  HRT driver Viantonio Liuzzi will be racing tomorrow in a special edition helmet to be auctioned off, and McLaren Drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will be donating similar custom designed racewear worn during the race.

left: Jenson Button's girlfriend Jessica Michibata with a Bernie doll right: Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber Team CEO and a Kamui Kobayashi doll (Images from Twitter)

Join Us to Help Central Texas Fire Victims

A series of ravaging wildfires have broken out across Central Texas. Some of the worst have been in neighboring Bastrop, Texas, which is about 20 miles east of the future Circuit of the Americas site. According to the latest report from YNN News Austin, "the blaze now spans 34,356 acres and is 30 percent contained. So far, 576 homes have been destroyed, but that doesn’t include houses in areas that have been too hot for them to asses." Here is a video of just how rapidly these wildfires are spreading.


Austin City Council chambers packed with supporters at last Thursday's meeting

The "ayes" have it and the motion is carried.
Austin Approves F1 Project!

The Austin City Council just voted seconds ago to approve the resolutions related to the Agreement between the City of Austin, The Texas Comptroller and the COTA Local Organizing Committee.

Mayor Leffingwell was joined by Council Members Martinez, Riley, Cole and Spelman in approving the measures. Council Members Tovo and Morrison voted in opposition.

As a recap, the measures:

  1. Authorized the City Manager to negotiate and execute an Interlocal Agreement with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to: 1) Establish a METF for the F1 US Grand Prix and 2) Set forth the rights and obligations of the parties as required under the METF statute.
  2. Authorized the COTA Local Organizing Committee ("CELOC") to act on the city's behalf 1) Establish the parties' authority, rights, and responsibilities with respect to an application to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for creation of a METF in support of the F1 US Grand Prix and 2) establish the parties' authority, rights, and responsibilities with respect to payments to and from the Fund.
  3. (Hotel fee waiver ordinance)
  4. Discussion and possible action on a term sheet describing environmental standards and expectations regarding the Circuit of the Americas and related parties.

We also enjoyed reading Council Member Bill Spelman's email that he sent in response to all those that emailed him about the F1 vote. He highlights three concerns:

  1. There must be no financial risk for the City of Austin or its taxpayers.
  2. The City of Austin must be able to terminate all contracts due to non-performance.
  3. Circuit of the Americas must meet the sustainability expectations.

You can take a closer look at Mr. Spelman's email by clicking here.

Regarding the sustainibility expectations, The Austin American-Statesman exclusively shared a press release from Council Member Chris Riley's office late yesterday afternoon. Mr. Riley, Council Member Mike Martinez and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell all sponsor and support an unprecedented initiative to make Circuit of the Americas a landmark "Green" Formula One facility. This tentative agreement addresses numerous environmental and sustainibility issues. Here are a few points that COTA has tentatively agreed to implement at the one-of-a-kind Circuit of the Americas:

  • Provide satellite parking and dedicated lanes for mass transit options
  • Build structures to Austin Energy Green Building standards
  • Invest in on-site renewable energy
  • Embrace aggressive recycling and composting practices
  • Invest in local carbon offsets, such as tree plantings and land conservation
  • Buy into Austin Energy’s Green Choice program
  • Dedicate land for a community garden
  • Partner with other organizations, such as Austin Technology Incubator, to support on-site green technology and research and development projects
  • Coordinate with local educational institutions such as UT, Texas State , Huston-Tillotson, and Texas A&M to do green racing and transportation research
  • Host alternative energy and energy efficient car races, in addition to cycling and foot races

Thanks EVERYONE for your help, tweets, comments, posts; YOU truly helped MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Austin, MAKE IT HAPPEN! from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.


More THANK YOUs to everyone who has ever watched and participated in the past five (yes 5) Austin City Council meetings regarding F1 since November of last year.

Your first beer at the inaugural F1 race at Circuit of the Americas
in 2012 is ON US!

Cheers :)

On To Vote Again...

Last night Circuit of the Americas ("COTA") announced that Texas music legends Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett look forward to performing at The Grand Plaza, the expansive outdoor live music space planned for the world class facility currently under construction. Willie said, "I'm looking forward to playing at the F1 track. Sounds like a great new venue" and Lovett added, "Circuit of The Americas sounds like it will be a world class facility in one of the best places in the world for music.” This reminds me of one of Willie's most famous songs:

Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow "On the Road Again" live 2007 Crossroads (via MoreSherylCrow)

I chose this specific video so you can get an idea of what a completely packed outdoor live music venue looks like. This show, The 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival, was on July 28, 2007 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. "Tickets were estimated as sold out for the 28,000 capacity park in 22 minutes" (via Wikipedia). This is just a taste of what we can expect from Lyle, Willie and many other talented musicians at The Grand Plaza at Circuit of the Americas. More details in the Press Release.

Bob Varsha (SPEED TV), Steve Sexton (COTA) and Tavo Hellmund (COTA) discuss the live music venue planned for the facility at the April 14, 2011 Press Conference

Enjoy the tune as you continue to prep for today's Austin City Council meeting, hopefully the last, to proceed with the City of Austin's official endorsement as the sponsoring city for COTA to receive funds from the Texas Major Events Trust Fund. Just like Willie sings in "On the Road Again," we are now "On To Vote Again..."

Here is today's City Council Agenda. Note that there does not appear to be time for Public Comment during today's meeting, so it may move faster than last week's seven hour discusson on F1 topics (!).

Watch it LIVE here:

Alternatively, listen to the live radio feed here:

Just like last week, we will continue to update you throughout the day. The most up-to-date news will be shared in 140 characters via our twitter stream:

However, if you'd like to share any last minute comments, feel free to do so on our Facebook page:

We are very grateful for the support and feedback we receive from YOU - our fans, friends and followers from around the world. We received some really nice and inspiring messages from everyone after last week's meeting. Thank you for your help to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

American Democrazy

Raise your hand if yesterday was the first time you ever watched a City Council meeting? Now raise your other hand if you don't even live in Austin, Texas?

Yesterday was nothing short of a democracy marathon. We were actively watching the live webcast, listening to the radio feed and tweeting the entire time. Kevin was in attendance and he donated his 3 minutes of speaking in favor of the F1 proposal due to other time constraints.

We thought the Austin City Council did a great job allowing both proponents and opponents to have their voices heard at the meeting, which began at 10:00AM with an exit speech from Council Member Randi Shade, broke for Executive Session at noon, reconvened at about 2:00PM and concluded with a vote at 5:00PM. KUT News reported an unconfirmed number of 243 people signed up to speak in favor of the approval of the F1 agenda items, 26 against and 3 neutrals.

Our Will Buxton Video was broadcast for the Council and in front of the maximum capacity of the Chambers. We immediately started receiving messages from people around the world thanking and congratulating Will on his "presence" at the meeting! Will was watching the Austin City Council meeting via the web from the Valencia Street Circuit, where all the F1 teams, crews, reporters, employees and supporters are located for this weekend's European Grand Prix. It was inspiring to hear from our fans from around the world that they were tuning in to watch this American democratic process unfold.

But while listening to the opponents arguments, we received a message from Will that he had further comments to share. We worked our magic and found another F1 proponent who was willing to read Will's letter at the Council meeting. Thank you Scooter!


Scooter Womack, F1 proponent, reading Will Buxton's email at the June 23, 2011 Austin City Council meeting on behalf of The Austin Grand PrixHere is Will's letter in full:

"As I sit here in the media centre at the Valencia Street Circuit, home of the 2011 European Grand Prix, I and many of my colleagues are hanging on every word coming through to us online of today’s events in Austin, Texas.

There have been some salient points made, but there have been a number of falsities and some scaremongering, which I feel it only correct to address, particularly in light of an ill informed article by Dutch Mandel in AutoWeek, which those who have displayed an argument against the race today, have almost all referenced.

Bernie Ecclestone has become a rich man through his control of Formula 1. Of that there is no question. But this is a man who was almost single handedly responsible for turning this sport from a ragtag operation into the single most watched regular sporting event on earth. Only the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cup get more viewers globally, and they happen only once every four years. This sport happens every other weekend. If you’d come up with the idea, you’d probably feel you were entitled to a cut, wouldn’t you? Of course you would.

But the anti lobby seems to believe that he and he alone will take the race hosting fee and run away with it. But Bernie Ecclestone, although still in charge of this sport politically, has for a long time not owned this sport. He is a minority shareholder. He is responsible for ensuring that the sport remains profitable for its current owners (a private equity firm)

But that fee doesn’t even go purely into the equity firm’s pocket either. This sport takes the money, divides it between teams to aid with their transport costs year on year, pays out to those who score well in the world championship and races. The sport does not run on breadcrumbs. It never has. It never will. No business can.

It is the highest form of racing spectacle on earth. Last season over 500 million people worldwide watched Formula 1.

Why, as AutoWeek suggests you do, would you wish to run away from that kind of exposure?

It is exposure which national governments have decided is worthy of investment to promote their country and host city for international tourists.

In the case of Austin it has taken individuals and entrepeneurs to take the decision and personal financial risk to build a track that, in most other nations on earth, would have been funded by national governments. Circuit of the Americas are doing this because they have a dream. And this dream is one which can only serve the people and the city of Austin, Texas.

As I sit here in this paddock, I am surrounded by hundreds of fellow journalists. In the paddock beneath me are hundreds of people who work for the Formula 1 teams and put these cars on track. There are hundreds of people working in hospitality. Around the track are hundreds of local people acting in their roles at the circuit, be it promotional, be it trackside, be it operational.

Hundreds of thousands of race fans will attend this race.

Every one of them needs a hotel room. Every one of them needs to eat. Every one of them wants to have a cold beer at the end of the day. And if every one of them has a good time, how likely will they be to return, not just for the race but simply to visit? And how many of their friends would wish to visit the city based on the recommendation of those who have attended?

This is one race. Formula 1 is one circus. MotoGP, Nascar, Indycar. They all operate similar numbers. They all bring an influx of funds to the cities and surrounding area in which they race. Year on year.

Two weeks ago in Montreal, the centre of the town became one big F1 party.  Every shop front carried chequered flags. Every shop was full. Everyone you passed carried bags of purchases. Day after day. Business boomed. As it does, every single year.

Again, to reference the autoweek article, what part of that is something that Austin would wish to run away from?

A ten year promise to pay $25 million a year is by no means a small investment on face value.

But the revenue from those who attend, the exposure that the city will receive, will dwarf the initial outlay.

But that depends on Austin. If the city embraces this sport, if it is welcomed with open arms, Formula 1 will open itself to you.

Make it happen.

This sport cannot wait to return to America. And to its new home, in Austin, Texas."

The outcome of the meeting was a 6-1 vote in favor of postponing the decision of the Austin City Council to vote on Agenda Items 20, 21 and 101. That will take place next Wednesday, June 23. The City of Austin has created a Formula One page which includes in-depth materials related to the matter. You can access the page here.

Thank you to all our fans. It is truly amazing to hear from people around the world, telling us that they have never been to a city council meeting, nonetheless in a city they don't even live in. We even got a message that a fan in Dubai was glued to their computer until 11:00PM watching the webcast. Amazing.

More info to come about next week's City Council meeting. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below or on our Facebook page.

Thank you and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Today's City Council Meeting - #MAKEITHAPPEN

The Austin City Council meeting has started. The chamber is at 100% capacity.

Austin City Council Chamber, June 23, 2011

Watch it LIVE here:

In the event that we crash their live webcast AGAIN, try the live radio feed here:

The complete Agenda:

Our F1 items

Item #20:

Item #21:

Item #101:

There are 136 items on today's agenda. We will continue to update you throughout the day. The most up-to-date news will be shared in 140 characters via our twitter stream:

THANK YOU everyone for your amazing support. MAKE IT HAPPEN!