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Come And Race It

Another Sunday Funday at Six Lounge

It figures. We go boasting about how construction at Circuit of the Americas is soooo ahead of schedule because of our drought, and then BAM! Rain, rain, rain. Some speculate that it is a result of the University of Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma University Sooners football game. Moving on...

Jenson Button and his Mini-Me!

Our fans still braved the rain and joined us once again at Six Lounge where we had more seating, more food and better audio setup to enjoy the Japanese Grand Prix.

And enjoy the race, we did! WOW, Suzuka, you did not disappoint! Congratulations to Jenson Button! We bet these F1 plush dolls are worth a pretty penny now! Check out Jenson's mini-me below:

And, we had a little fun with Sebastian Vettel's double World Championship win which was secured at Suzuka. Have you seen the viral Double Rainbow YouTube video? I have heard the term used over the past year, but didn't realize there was a video to match. I finally watched it last week and couldn't stop laughing.

Lap One Done With the Support of Our Fans!


We are excited to celebrate with you the one year anniversary of the announcement of Austin, Texas as the future home of Formula One™ in the United States starting in 2012. It was also one year ago today that we founded The Austin Grand Prix and embarked upon our mission to bring the most comprehensive news surrounding this announcement to fans around the world. Our mission was simple: “To bridge the gap between racing fans and Austin and welcome everyone to the future home of Formula One™.”

We are extremely grateful for the support of our fans from Austin to Australia and everywhere in between; whether you’ve connected with us via our dedicated website, Facebook page, Twitter account, Vimeo video page, or met us out and about in the streets of Austin at a watch party, networking event, movie premiere, press conference or any other exciting event. Thank YOU for supporting our efforts to be the new media and community resource for the Circuit of the Americas™ under construction in Austin, Texas as the future home of Formula One™ and MotoGP racing, starting in 2012.

On location at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX

What's Next?

  • 3 June 2011: The FIA World Motor Sport Council will meet and discuss rescheduling of the cancelled Bahrain GP and preliminary talks of a 2012 race calendar.
  • November 2011: Expected announcement of finalized 2012 race calendar.
  • June 2012: When COTA has been told to “be ready” for an inaugural race. Also, a June race date would make logical sense, if the track was ready by this time, because the cars should already be on the North American continent, coinciding with the Canadian Grand Prix.
  • September/October 2012: Another logical date for the USGP because the cars are shipped through Dallas, Texas (about a 3 hour drive from Austin) on their way to Brazil in South America for the Brazilian GP. Also, back in April, the University of Texas said their Longhorns Football Team would consider moving a football game to accommodate a race weekend in Austin - which would be unprecedented!

Headed to Montreal!

We are also excited to be packing our bags for Montreal in two weeks for the Canadian Grand Prix from 9-13 June. We hope to meet as many F1 fans as possible and have created a casual meet up in Montreal, which you can RSVP for on our Facebook page and stay tuned for more information.

 



"SENNA" Wins The Hearts Of Austin

It is hard to believe that it was just two months ago that we had the great Kerri and Kevin with SENNA Director Asif Kapadia at SXSWhonor of working alongside Director Asif Kapadia and Working Title Films to help promote and welcome the Texas premiere of the SENNA film during Austin’s famed South By Southwest Film Festival. Thank you for helping sell out both screenings of the film at the iconic Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue. If you were able to attend a screening, we hope you enjoyed the film as much as we did! If not, check out this exclusive video interview of Asif at the Social Media Clubhouse. Please also continue to support SENNA for next week’s UK release (3 June) and a broader US statewide release planned for 12 August. We want to continue to serve as a reliable resource for the SENNA film so please check our website in the coming week as we roll out some amazing new SENNA film features.

 

How Can You Help?

Another question we are frequently asked is how our fans and supporters can help. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sign-up for our newsletter and tell your friends and colleagues about it!
  • Got an idea? A burning question? A referral? Send us an email anytime atOur fan and friend Heath showing his support at the 2011 Australian GP! Info@TheAustinGrandPrix.com. We would love to hear from you!
  • Get your hands on the first product promoting the return of Formula One™ to Texas via our COME AND RACE IT™ shirts! We will also be adding more products in the coming months.
  • Please send us your pictures in your COME AND RACE IT™ shirt, as we are compiling photographs of our fans from around the world, just like the one shown here from Down Under!

We are extremely grateful to our fans and supporters because we have been building The Austin Grand Prix to serve you. Sometimes we are asked: “Why is it the Austin Grand Prix? Don’t you think that is exclusive of the rest of Texas, or the US, or North America?” We are the Austin Grand Prix because we are a part of the social fabric of the Austin community; we believe over the next twelve months you will start to understand why we love this great city so much. We look forward to welcoming you and we hope you will join us in 2012 for the inaugural United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

 

Thank You and COME AND RACE IT™!

 

Kerri Olsen and Kevin Olsen
Co-Founders

 

Is Momentum Building at Austin's Newest Park?

Austin's track is gaining momentum, YEEHAW! It's been an amazing couple of weeks since all activity at the SXSW Film, Music and Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. Let's recap:

-Congratulations to Asif Kapadia, Manish Pandey, Working Title Films, Universal and all parties involved with the SENNA film, as release dates have been progressing:

  • 13 April - Valencia, Spain - Spanish premiere
  • 4 and 6 May - Toronto - Canadian International documentary film festival, "Hot Docs"
  • 3 June - UK Release
  • 15-19 June - Sydney, Australia Film Festival
  • 21 July - Australian Release
  • July - US Release

-Asif and the SENNA online outlets (Twitter, Facebook, web) have been working hard to keep us all informed of the latest release info. It is motivating to read inquires from fans all over the world: "When can I see SENNA in MY hometown!?" Keep asking and keep coming back here. We will continue to help bring this movie to you because it truly is an epic film which we so thoroughly enjoyed. Believe it or not, we have even more #SENNAxSW content to share with you in the coming weeks!

Congratulations to the entire Formula One drivers and teams for the amazing first two races of the season. Although Bahrain was cancelled, Sebastian Vettell gave everyone a run for their money at Australia and Malaysia. Check out this Formula 1 interview here.

And now...there have been many reports in the past few weeks that suggest development at the future home of the Austin Grand Prix is racing ahead.

-Tom O'Keefe published his recap of his Texas visit on Autosport today; you can read it here.

-Dave Doolittle, of the Austin American-Statesman, reports that zombie roadkill is halting F1 construction at the site! Oh no!

-Bob Varsha, of SPEED TV, said "We have a delegation from SPEED that’s going to go visit the track and assess the situation with our own eyeballs on April 13."

-During SPEED TV's airing of the Malaysian Grand Prix on April 9/10, they also made an announcement regarding the upcoming April 12 "special news conference" and said they plan on bringing you a live feed on Tuesday night at 8pm ET.

-Austin's KVUE News posted a supershort video of earth-movers and construction at the site from the ground level, however we're still partial to our exclusive aerial video which F1 Russia picked up and sent us viral! Here it is if you'd rather not dig through our archives:

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

 

So, with all the recent rumblings, we want to know what YOU think will happen at tomorrow's news conference. Here are a few ideas we've heard and/or made up over a few cups of coffee this AM:

  • Tavo Hellmund and Bob Varsha will skydive out of an airplane to give you an idea of a real aerial descent upon the future track site, since they weren't too happy with our photos or video.
  • Since the Bahrain race was cancelled, construction is really going to ramp up and the Austin race will actually happen in <gasp> 2011 later this year!
  • Red Bull is going to return to Austin, the home of their largest U.S. Flugtag audience of 85,000, and create a permanent Flugtag stage constructed over the F1 pit area. (What's Flugtag? Read recap of 2007 event here.)

    by Lynn M. Stone

  • The official F1 USGP team is going to formally name the track: "The Best Little Race House In Texas."
  • SPEED TV will start the highly-anticipated 24/7 webcam of progress, so you never have to miss a second of the non-stop action as earthmovers crawl around the track!
  • Bernie decided that in addition to artificial rain, he would also like to create artificial snow for future driving "excitement"...in Texas...in the summer.
  • While Tavo and Bob dive into the track location, Bernie will be on the ground to catch them atop his new ride, this lovely Texas Longhorn:

 

What are you expecting tomorrow and what would you like to see?

Before I go, I wanted to introduce you to our expanded product line at COME AND RACE IT©! We now have shirts in 4 different colors:

   

 

Natural, Texas Orange, Heather Grey and Ladies Mocha Brown! (Click on the pictures above to go directly to the order page.)

Here's our shirt Down Under at the Australian Grand Prix last month! We would love to get pics of you in your shirts at every Grand Prix and from all over the world. Please send them to us at COMEANDRACEIT {at} gmail.com. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Track Site Visit and Highlights of the Facilities

Today we want to introduce you to a few exciting things:

1.   Kevin and I shot our first on-location video at the future track site in Elroy, Texas. It took a few takes (HA!) but we’re really pleased with being able to share with you actual footage of us at the track site and an in-person perspective of what is currently in Elroy and what is to come. Though we do expect track construction will ramp up in the next few weeks, we wanted to give you a view of the site before things start to really change on the ground.

Track Site Visit January 30th, 2011 from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.

 

2.   We’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about our interactions with you, our fans and readers, and how to deliver the most unique experience. Why do you want to keep coming back to TAGP website? Why do you follow us on Twitter and interact with us via our Facebook page? We launched this site on May 25, 2010 because we, ourselves, were having a hard time finding interesting and credible news. We were literally scouring the internet for any and all news surrounding the official FIA announcement of F1 coming to Austin. We didn’t want you to have to go through the same trouble so we launched this site as a hub for all info with the hopes of becoming the #1 fan site for F1 fans worldwide who want to learn more about Austin, and Austinites who want to learn more about Formula One racing. As more sites begin to populate the web, we’ve discovered a deeper niche that needs to be filled: sure you can Google “Austin” and read all about it on Wikipedia. But what does Austin look like when you step off the plane? What does the drive from Elroy, Texas to 6th Street look like? With our combined love, respect and excitement about Austin, we’d like to re-introduce ourselves as your “Austin Ambassadors.” We’re committed to taking the two-dimensional approach of information delivery and amping it up to three-dimensional: engaging videos and interviews so you start to familiarize yourself with this great city as you prepare for your many trips to Austin starting in 2012!

3.  Choices Choices Choices! We’ve been listening to fan feedback and are expanding our merchandise line. We will soon offer a different style of t-shirt (a more traditional make with a heavier fabric), a different cut (women’s tees) and more COLORS! We’ll also be adding additional products in the coming months as we continue to market The Austin Grand Prix via our adopted slogan: COME AND RACE IT©!

Thank you for an amazing eight months. We are extremely excited about continuing to expand our reach as the #1 fan site for Formula One returning to the United States via Austin, Texas in 2012!

 

Here are some photos from our visit in November, 2010 as well:

 View of Track Site from the South West Corner

 

View of Downtown Austin from Highway 812

Final F1 2010 Austin Watch Party

Shortly after the formal F1US announcement on May 25, 2010, I was scouring the internet for any and all available news related to the return of Formula One in the US via Austin.  While trying to identify other F1 fans in Austin, I came across a group of people who gather to watch F1 races when they are re-broadcast on SpeedTV later on race day.  As I recall, I found out about an upcoming watch party at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse for the 2010 European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain via Lionbridge Auto Leasing's Facebook page and countacted Tad Cole to get more details.  I immediately called Kevin and urged him to be at the steakhouse at 2pm Sunday to meet other racing enthusiasts and start networking.  He went, wearing his CARI shirt (which was fresh off the printing press) and joined about thirty other people viewing the race in the bar area, packed with flatscreens and cold beer.  He met Michael Ferweda, owner of Zinger Hardware and the original organizer behind the F1 watch parties, and several others who participate in Your Ride is Here and Hill Country Drives, both car enthusiast organizations that attract fans of racing and encourage charity participation.

Since the first event, Kevin became a frequent attendee and made it out to five watch parties from June through October.  However, with the final race of the 2010 F1 season coming up the second weekend in November, time was running out for me to make it to a party.  Since Southwest Air makes it so easy for me to get from Chicago to Austin (direct flight, best flight crew), I decided I had to be at the final watch party of the season.  Since Kevin’s first attendance the watch parties have switched venues to Cool River Café.  It’s a great spacious venue with surround sound pumping through the theater quality speakers and a 14 foot screen broadcasting the race.  Just like anyone else outside of the live broadcasting zone, Austin F1 fans have to stay socially unconnected and away from Facebook, Twitter and other digital news sources until they watch the race to prevent hearing the outcome.  I can personally attest that once you make the mistake of spoiling an F1 race to another fan, you will never make that amateur mistake again.  It’s like Tivo-ing a BCS bowl game so you can watch it properly in its entirety after work and then a co-worker telling you the outcome of the game in the middle of the work day.  You just don’t spoil it for others.

Fans watching the race in Cool River's Media Bar

On Sunday, November 14, Kevin and I joined about 50 F1 fans at Cool River for the last watch party of the season.  We ordered some Austin favorites – chips and queso to start, a few Shiner Bock beers to wash it down, a Chipotle Burger for Kevin and I had some tasty BBQ Sliders – small bite-sized BBQ cheeseburgers with toppings of your choice.  Shiner is a great Texan beer brewed for over 101 years in Shiner, Texas.  It is a Texas favorite and considered an “import” throughout the rest of the US, including Chicago.  I always get a chuckle when I see Shiner Bock listed as an import beer on a Chicago menu!  It reminds me of the lazy days of summer on a porch in the gorgeous Hill Country of Texas. 

We started mingling with other F1 fans while the Dubai Grand Prix broadcast in the background.  I was extremely excited to meet the wizard behind The Austin American-Statesman's twitter account, @StatesmanF1.  Dave Doolittle and I have been tweeting for months about the latest Austin Grand Prix developments, and we finally got to meet IRL ("In Real Life," as we say in the Twitterverse)! We enjoyed sharing stories and our predictions on how the Dubai Grand Prix would pan out.  I also had the opportunity to meet Michael Barnes while he took in the watch party and gave a different account as Social Columnist for the Statesman.  You can read his recap here.

We chatted with many enthusiastic fans including Mike McKinnon; Sondra Sondregger and Jack McCauley, owners of Velocity Adventures in Austin, Texas; David Hill, an enthusiastic sports photographer; Warren Peck, owner of Races2U (see below), and Ken Adams and Ryan Fox of Your Ride is Here. Your Ride is Here is a non-profit organization that provides cancer patients with transportation to treatment in a high-end automobiles.  Ken realized personally that "making every appointment was critical to the success rate. Therefore, reliable transportation was one of the most important aspects of my life during those two months."  Cancer treatment is hard enough; getting there should be as painless as possible.

Ken and Mark presenting Your Ride is Here

Your Ride is Here raffled off a helmet racing shield and a titanium rear wing shim, which was used in Mark Webber’s Red Bull car from the 2008 season.  Not only is a piece of a Formula 1 car a rare thing to come across, but the helmet shield was signed by Austin pro driver Rodrigo Sanchez, who was attending the party with his manager, Toni Calderon, and representing Racing For Mexico.  Earlier this year, Racing For Mexico announced their partnership with MexNet Alliance, "a non-profit organization composed of business professionals and entrepreneurs whose main aspiration is to serve and provide a model for accelerating the success of present and future Hispanic leaders in the US."  The money raised from the raffle of these two items goes to the transportation costs associated with getting patients to their chemotherapy treatment for Your Ride is Here.

We thoroughly enjoyed watching Sebastian Vettel winning the 2010 F1 race season and celebrated with – what else!? – a cold can of Red Bull! It was thrilling to see the youngest Formula One driver win his first championship.  You could feel the energy and excitement in the room as he crossed the finish line.  Everyone in the room hopes to see Sebastian and all the other F1 drivers and teams in Austin in less than two years.

We also enjoyed our first F1 simulator: a custom rig built by one of the loyal attendees of the watch parties (please share his name if you have it!), which allows you to sit in a life-size seat and drive a race car while the F1 2010 PC Game is displayed on a larger-than-life screen.  Below is video of Kevin giving it a go for the first time on the Spa track in Belgium.  Outside Cool River, Warren Peck of Races2U brings his slot-car racing setup for racers to test their competitiveness and skill against other racers.  He’s built an eight car digital slot racing track that allows fans young and old to race replica Formula 1 cars to their limits and beat each other to the finish line. As Warren describes, "These are not the slot cars we played with as kids. Real racing strategy is required, and it can be quite competitive."

Kevin on F1 Simulator from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.

 

The watch party was a great way to network with other F1 fans inKerri in her CARI shirt at the watch party Austin in a casual and comfortable environment.  Cool River’s entertainment viewing area was well equipped with plenty of comfortable seating conducive to watching the race alone, with a small or large group of friends, or while meeting new racing enthusiasts.  They also have billiard tables off to the side and I hope the simulator and slot car races will be repeat visitors, as they provide interactive racing experiences which engages F1 fans with two hands on the wheel.  We look forward to meeting you at a 2011 F1 Watch Party!

Did you make it to any F1 Watch Parties in 2010, in Austin or elsewhere?  What is your favorite way to watch F1 racing, aside from the pit, of course!?

See more images in the Gallery - Final F1 2010 Austin Watch Party