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Austin Bergstrom International Airport

Flying Into Austin

The following is from AGP Guest Contributor Mike Boone. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter this weekend as he reports from Circuit of The Americas and the Austin Fan Fest.

I am an Austinite, but I returned home via plane on Thursday before the grandest event Austin has ever seen. The Formula 1 race starts today but yesterday I was on a plane with about 100 New Yorkers and from what I could tell most of them were coming to Austin for the same reason: this weekend's Inaugural Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. One might think the busy, non-southern culture that is assumed to consume the Northeast would translate to the people from there as they travel. Not so.  Everyone I have spoke to was thrilled about the race and they didn't appear to make any effort to contain their enthusiasm. 

Slow Down There 'Pardner, Keep Your Shirts On

Is this really what we want to see in front of us at an F1 race in June? Lets hope this guy gets a COME AND RACE IT™ shirt!Many in the motorsports industry were quite surprised when the FIA World Motor Sport Council established the preliminary 2012 calendar a few months ago and set the Inaugural Austin F1 race date for June 17th, 2012. If you were to ask any Austinite about holding a major event outdoors in the summer, they would have just about died laughing. Clearly, the WMSC and other primarily European F1 decision makers didn't quite understand the gravity of the heat in Texas, and what it would mean to the many international travelers whom would be leaving 21º C (70º F) average highs in Europe, would be very surprised with Austin's average of 33º C (91º F) for the month of June.

We expressed our same concern when we first heard about the June race date, but didn't bring it up, expecting it to be changed later in November, when the official 2012 calendar is set.  Well as Autosport is reporting today, Bernie Eccelstone has sent out a message to the teams about modifying the calendar for the 2012 season and is expected to push for Austin to be moved to November, just before the Brazilian GP.

This is very welcome news from our point of view and also makes a lot more sense logistically. Granted, the Canadian GP in Montreal is in early June and holding the USGP just back-to-back is logical. However, this would force the teams to either drive from Montreal or pack up and fly to Austin. 

F1 car being loaded on DHL plane for transportTransporting the teams is a costly and logistically complex operation, employing many people dedicated just to move the teams around the world. Thankfully, the F1 fleet of DHL planes on their way to Brazil in November, stop over at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) for a layover.  It's no coincidence that COTA picked a parcel of land so close to the airport here in Austin, whereby having the F1 fleet fly through Austin would be cost effective and efficient.  Things just keep falling into place, huh?

So what does this potential calendar change to late fall really mean?

1) It will be significantly cooler and more enjoyable for you to walk around the track, explore the various events at Circuit of The Americas and in downtown Austin, and allow you to focus on having fun in our fine city; not spend it hopping from shade spots to shade spots, searching for water, misters and A/C.

2) This will allow COTA to meet more of the deadlines with ease and ensure that the facility is at its peak operational capability when the teams arrive early the week before the F1 race.

3) As our friend John Maher at the Austin American-Statesman reported in April, the University of Texas at Austin (UT) stated it would consider moving a 2012 Longhorns football (American) game if it conflicts with the F1 race in Austin. A reminder that each UT Longhorns football game draws a crowd average of 100,000. Also, the F1 calendar is set prior to NCAA football schedules, which would prevent logistical change of schedule nightmares. More great news, unless of course, you were hoping to double book your trip here to see F1 and some great Texas football.

4) Ozone levels are lower in the fall than in the summer and will have less environmental impact. As discussed in the City of Austin's agreement with CELOC (the organizing entity for Circuit of the Americas to receive state funds), the Central Texas ozone season is April 1 - October 31. Therefore, a November race would complement environmental initiatives established by Council Members Chris Riley and Mike Martinez.

And to keep the ball rolling, Austin businesses in cooperation with the Austin Chamber of Commerce are working to get Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) to accomodate direct international flights instead of going through Dallas and Houston.  This of course means less layovers for travelers and a more internationally friendly atmosphere, so lets hope this happens as well!

 

EXCLUSIVE: First Aerial Video of Austin Track Construction

Ever since I snapped the first aerial pictures of the future Austin track site out the window of my Southwest Airline flight in November, we’ve been pumped about this next post. An old friend and pilot took us up yesterday to shoot some amazing aerial footage of the track site.

The following video shows the view from our flight path coming from downtown Austin, which is west of the track site. We flew in over downtown Austin and then headed due east over the Austin Bergstrom International Airport (“ABIA”), paused for the commercial flight pattern (while two planes took off, which was pretty cool to watch from above) and then headed south to the track.  The Austin track is situated about 2.5 miles southeast of ABIA.  We proceeded to fly clockwise around the track. It was easy to point out the location from the air as the biggest thing to notice is the large, sand-filled rectangular area which borders the road FM 812 on the south end of the track.  Last week the Statesman reported that the attorney for the USGP project, Richard Suttle "confirmed that the layout for the track has been cleared," but from yesterday's flight it looked to us as though only a third of the Austin land has been graded. Maybe we are misunderstanding the context of his quote. What do you think?

Exclusive: First Aerial Video of Austin Track Construction from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.

More Video and High Resolution Pictures coming soon!!

Soundtrack courtesy of Ghostland Observatory, one of our favorite Austin bands, check them out on MySpace.

A special thanks to Ben and Coy, without which this would not have been possible!


Descending Upon The Austin Grand Prix - Site Visit Part I

On Friday, November 13, I hopped on yet another friendly Southwest Air flight from Chicago to Austin, but first made a few stops in Kansas City and Dallas.  This time the stops were welcomed because they allowed me to change seats (while waiting on new passengers to board the plane) and grill my Pilot on how we would be flying into Austin.  I texted Kevin to find out exactly where the future F1US site was located geographically in relation to the airport.  He quickly responded and then I pulled the pilot aside for a rather abnormal question:

“So, I have a really technical question.  Say I wanted to look out the window on our descent into Austin and see a parcel of land located about a mile and a half southeast of the airport.  What side of the plane should I be sitting on?” <insert smile and charm>

The pilot thought for about 2.5 seconds and then responded, very matter-of-factly, yet somewhat puzzled, “On the right side.”

I thanked him and took my seat in 1F – the window seat on the right side of the plane.  When we were taking off from Dallas we passed over the oldDallas Cowboys football stadium – the one that has a retractable roof.  Legend has it that Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys team owner) wanted the roof to open so that "God could watch his team play."

Cowboy's Stadium in Dallas, by HKS ArchitectsThat’s how American football works in Texas – kids start playing at age 9 and don’t stop until college or later if they’re lucky. 

It’s interesting to note that HKS Architects designed the new Cowboys stadium and they’re the architects joining Herman Tilkke for design of the Austin track and site.

Here is a promo video of the new Cowboys stadium.  Although it is really poor quality, you can start to get a feel for HKS Architect's work.  How do you think they will incorporate their work with Hermann Tilke? 

 

(IMHO HKS has a better high quality flash video on their company website:  HKS Sports)

 

Though about 200 miles south of Dallas, the flight to Austin Downtown Austin from above Elroy, TXis a quick one, and about thirty five minutes later we were making our descent into Austin Bergstrom International Airport.  We swung out to the southeast and then made a sharp hairpin turn to enter the airport headed north.   My seat on the right side of the plane allowed me to look out the window, an east-facig view, and setup for the perfect shot of the site and future track location; a view no one has shared with fans until now.  I was so excited about the idea of getting a closer look that I started snapping pictures as we got closer to the airport and to my surprise, the flight path gave me a perfect view of the site.  It's safe to say that future passengers flying into Austin from the south will pass above the track and have a perfect view of this new Austin icon.  Pretty cool, eh?

The following diagram shows the flight path we took while approaching Austin and the direction of my camera for each of the track site images.  In total, four of the images I took give a perfect view of the site and should help you understand the terrain and location a bit better (more images in the Gallery).

 Diagram of Flight Path and Images, by Kevin Olsen

Image 01

Image 02

Image 03

Image 04

No Longer a Dream, Race is on Track!

Breaking news reported from multiple sources last night:

-The land for the track HAS been purchased!

-The track HAS been designed, by Veteran circuit designer Hermann Tilke!

-Initial permission for permits HAVE been granted!

-The 700+ acre location is "within miles" from Austin Bergstrom International Airport!

Motor-racing veteran journalist Adam Cooper posted this late last night:  

Tilke designing Austin Track, site already purchased

 

 ESPN Racing also published last night:

Promoter reveals designer, few details

 

And this morning, Autosport.com stated:

Tilke to design new Austin circuit

So, Mr. Tavo Hellmund and Full Throttle Productions, LP have been doing their homework.  We are not surprised!  You can't go to the rodeo without your cowboy hat, spurs and rope.  We will continue to update you as this story develops. Congrats to the Tilke Team and we look forward to learning more.