Viewing entries tagged
Mike Martinez


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 :)

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!


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:

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


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's F1 Drinks Tweet

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:





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!

Petition 1

Petition 2

Petition 3

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).


SENNA By Southwest (aka #SENNAxSW)

"SENNA Wins at Sundance," Courtesy of Working Title Films   "We were told that no one in the US knew who Ayrton Senna was, that there was no interest in Formula One, that we should forget about releasing the film here, so to win the Audience Award at Sundance is just fantastic, it makes us feel so proud. We hope this shows that there is an audience for SENNA in the US, both fans and people who have never heard of him before and I hope this is just the beginning of a long journey for SENNA in 2011.”-Asif Kapadia, Director of SENNA, upon collecting the World Cinema Audience Award for Documentary at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival


Hopefully you've heard the awesome news that the SENNA film will be screened at SXSW on two occassions. We've got a few more tricks up our sleeve for anyone in Austin this week for SXSW AND for our worldwide fans who are saving their pennies for the inaugural Grand Prix race in 2012. Let me simplify for you:

SENNA film posterSENNA premiere #1 at The Paramount Theatre on Saturday, 12 March, 11:00AM:

  • Doors open at 10:30AM.
  • If you have a SXSW Platinum or Film Badge, you are guaranteed entry to the film.* I would still get there by 10AM.
  • Next are SXSW Film Passes. I would get there by 9:45AM to get a earlier spot in line.*
  • Last are the Advance Single Tickets. These are what you bought online from The Paramount Theatre for $12 and congrats, you helped sell out the SENNA film first :) You should line up early, I'm thinking REALLY EARLY. Like 7AM. Call me crazy but if this is the first screening to completely sell out 100 these Advance tickets (which don't even insure your entry) wouldn't you want to be in line first?? The good news is that The Paramount is the largest screening in Austin (I think, however Vimeo may be larger) and if you don't get in, you can get your $12 refunded but you have to be at the box office "within 30 minutes of the film" (not sure if this means before or after; double check.)*
  • Bring tissues and waterproof mascara so you can continue your SXSW schedule after viewing this film as I am sure you will be touched and inspired.
  • RSVP ON OUR FACEBOOK INVITE so we know you're coming. Heck, the Director and Austin Mayor Pro Tem did; are you too cool? 
  • Please wear your COME AND RACE IT© shirt to the movie premiere!!
  • I purchased a few extra Advance Single Tickets so if you're looking for one please tweet me @AustinGrandPrix ASAP.

Post-Premiere Reception by the Formula 1 United States team at the Long Center.

  • Press & Media event including a discussion with Tavo and Asif on the SENNA film and the future Grand Prix in Austin and the appearance of the AT&T Williams F1 car (interesting choice); here's a preview:

    From AT&T Williams website.

  • Kevin and I will be sharing as much information as we can with you LIVE from the Long Center.
  • Watch our Facebook page and Twitter Feed for the latest.
  • I will also use the hashtag #SENNAxSW all weekend so watch for that.
  • If you want to interact with us and ask us questions about SENNA, Asif Kapadia or SXSW just use the hashtag #SENNAxSW or tweet it to us @AustinGrandPrix.

Social Media Club Panel broadcast live on Ustream

If you can't join us in Austin, On Sunday afternoon I'm conducting a discussion on how social media is affecting the Formula One world live from the Social Media Clubhouse 6 at SXSW. This year they've partnered with Ustream to broadcast the interviews LIVE on the interwebs!

  • The broadcast is at 1:30PM CST on Sunday, March 13.
  • You can join us at the Social Media Clubhouse 6 but you must have Social Media Club credentials.*
  • The panel will include me, Kevin and SENNA Director, Asif Kapadia. We're also still working on technology to include the SENNA writer, Manish Pandey, from London. We really wanted him to be here for SXSW but since he can't join us, we're still working to include him.
  • Again, use the hashtag #SENNAxSW to tweet us your questions and feedback. We'll do our best to participate with y'all live while on the air.
  • I'm embedding the Ustream channel below but in the event it does not work, watch it live from the SMCH6 Ustream channel.

Live Videos by Ustream

SENNA premiere #2 at The Paramount Theatre on Thursday, 17 March, 7:15PM

  • Same details as above but there are 56 Advance Single Tickets still available from The Paramount Theatre here.
  • Asif will also be in attendance at the second screening.
  • More details early next week.
  • RSVP on our Facebook invite for this event as well.
  • Please wear your COME AND RACE IT© shirt to the movie premiere!!

Kevin and I are extremely excited that we've been able to help bring the SENNA film and Asif to Austin and SXSW. Thank you to those of you who reached out and helped us for this amazing project! We'll definitely have a lot more to write about in the coming days including how this all came to be.

Please wear your COME AND RACE IT© shirt at SXSW and continue to spread the word about The Austin Grand Prix!

Thank you for your support. Without you, our amazing fans, we wouldn't have grown so incredibly these past 9 months.


Kerri Olsen
The Austin Grand Prix

*All suggestions in this post, especially regarding SXSW film viewings and entry, are solely my personal recommendation and are not to be taken as a guarantee for entry into any event. Ultimately SXSW is the gatekeeper and you should check for official directions and guidelines.

Another Sector Complete...But Don't Give Up Yet!

First and foremost, thank you for contacting the ZAP Commission - the environmental variances were approved and now Tilke can grade the land to construct the course.  More info from our friends at The Statesman, here.

A huge Thank You to Paul B.  for showing his support of Formula 1 United States by sporting his COME AND RACE IT © t-shirt!


Here is our next move: Austin City Council Members will meet on Thursday, November 18. You can send the following variation of the template message below.


Dear Mayor and Council members,

As a strong advocate for bringing Formula 1 racing to Austin, Texas, I urge you to approve items #2 and #3 on the agenda for November 18 related to a service extension request and development reimbursement for water and wastewater improvements for the region that includes the United States Grand Prix site. City staff and the Water and Wastewater Commission have recommended these items. And these items are consistent with past requests made throughout Austin’s ETJ. Additionally, the Environmental Board and Zoning and Platting Commission have recommended variances related to this project.

The Formula 1 project will serve as a catalyst for improvements in the City of Austin’s Desired Development Zone and SH 130 corridor that have long been needed.

Supporting these items will bring this project a step further to becoming a reality. I am eager for the arrival of Formula 1 in Austin, Texas, and urge you to support these matters.


Supporter of the Formula 1 United States Grand PrixTM in Austin, Texas


ALSO, if you're in the Central Texas area, please consider attending the City Council meeting tomorrow, Thursday, November 18, at 10:00 AM.  The meeting is located at Austin City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street.  If you are able to stay for the meeting, please plan to arrive by 9:45 am in order to sign up in favor of Items #3 and #4.  You may also sign up to speak in favor of these items at this time.  Depending on the amount of time spent on other agenda items, Items #3 and #4 are expected to be up before noon.

Garage parking is free at City Hall on Council meeting days.  If you are unable to stay for the meeting, you may sign up in favor of these items at City Hall anytime between now and 10 am on Thursday.

As always, thank you for your support!