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Motorsports

Shooting the USGP - Thursday

Fernando Alonso at the 2012 USGP in Austin

Some kids grow up wanting to be astronauts, pilots, doctors, firemen. When I was old enough to start caring about F1, I just knew I had to be involved with it. Somehow, someway. Then photography fell into my lap and I knew that was it. 

So bright and early this morning, with a big smile on my face, I held up my F1 media credential to the infamous F1 turn style computer and listened to it chime "ding don ding." And for the first time in my career, I walked into paddock in Austin for a Formula One race. Kind of hard to put those emotions into words. 

Human Power Takes on COTA

Participants take off towards Turn 1 through the fog at COTA's first event, Formula Run

// Formula Run

Early Saturday morning amidst a thick fog and heavy traffic, the first official race to be held at Circuit of The Americas was nearing start. Organized by RunTex founder Paul Carozza and the RunTex Foundation, the Formula Run event drew about five thousand avid runners and race enthusiasts to COTA.

The participants, a mix of Austin's running-regulars and race fans, all lined up on the starting grid, ready to complete a lap of the 3.4 mile circuit. As traffic delays caused many to arrive later than expected, Chairman Bobby Epstein and RunTex founder Paul Carozza welcomed participants to the track. Echoing the visions of COTA from early on, Epstein declared his praise that such an event was the first to be held at the circuit, solidify its partnership as a venue for all types of events, motor-powered and human powered.

Race Review: Monaco Grand Prix

Tag Heuer grid girls atmosphere. Monaco Street Circuit 26/05/12. ©2012 WRI2. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: www.wri2.net
Beautiful location, Check. Royalties, Check. Challenging street circuit, check. The Monaco Grand Prix is like no other Grand Prix. Drivers who have won here show an extra twinkle in their eyes when they recall their win. The prestige of winning here is priceless.

Much of that, surely, is due to the mental and physical demands of racing at top speeds for 78 laps, where smallest of errors through the narrow streets can bring the race to an abrupt end; another part is that legends are made on this track. Ayrton Senna won 6 times at this track. Schumacher 5 times. All the championship top contenders for this season have won once or twice around this track before.

This year is no different. One particular contender, Mark Webber, often overlooked and over-shadowed by double World Champion teammate, came out a-blazing and took home the Gold medal. Vindication through victory has never been sweeter. It was as if stars were aligned for Webber to win at Monaco.

First, Schumacher lost the all-important pole position after qualifying due to a 5-place grid drop penalty, resulted from running into Bruno Senna in the last race. It must have been bittersweet for Schumacher to come so close to leading the race to fighting all the way, and ultimately out of the race due to car troubles. The luck continued for Webber when Vettel qualified 9th. With a pole position at hand on a track where it's nearly impossible to overtake, raindrops that teased but never came until after the race, Webber sealed the win with a spectacular well-deserved drive. He also won the Best Post-race Five o'clock shadow in my books. Rosberg still won Best Post-race hair though, someone please find out what shampoo he uses!

I didn't see too much of the grid girls on the race coverage, but the few shots I saw left me wondering where is the glamour and classy factor in the outfit. An upside-down triangle cutout near the bosoms in a white top over black shorts? I didn’t know what to expect but I certainly expected more from Monaco! Well, hopefully the grid girls outfit will improve in the Canadian Grand Prix on weekend of 6/8!

 

MAY MONTH IS MONACO

2012 Monaco Grand Prix - Thursday Monte Carlo, Monaco 24th May 2012 World Copyright:Andrew Ferraro /LAT Receiving more hype, in some cases eminently justifiable, than any other Formula One race, the unique Monegasque coastal venue has been delivering motorsporting thrills for the past 83 years. It is a phenomenal record by any account and hot on the slightly singed Michelin heels of Barcelona’s ‘gift’ to Williams’ driver, Pastor Maldonado, no less than the fifth different winning team combination of the 2012 season thus far, the field has never been more open and the close proximity racing has never been more intimate.

Tifosi, Tragedy & Triumph: The Emotions of Formula 1

Michael Schumacher sits quietly in the Mercedes GP garage before the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. Photo © Mercedes GP As Henry Sanders, of Sports Illustrated (Dec 26th 1955), stated so appositely, “Sure, winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing!”, the pursuit of sporting perfection remains a pinnacle achievement for a surprising few. Yet, the support granted to it is prodigious. Worldwide Television audiences regularly top the hundreds of millions. Magazine and periodical coverage amounts to many hundreds of thousands of miles worth of column inches. However, transmitted by word of mouth, from one attending supporter to another, a crescendo builds and fanaticism grows on its back.

A Tour of COTA with Tilke Engineering

 

// Background

Recently, we had the pleasure of being welcomed out for a private tour of Circuit of The Americas by the designers of the track, Tilke Engineering. Since the Topping Out ceremony just a few weeks ago, the buzz around Austin and the motorsports industry is that Austin is shaping up to be a great venue. In just one short year, the project has completely transformed from a quiet piece of land into a busy, complex, and well-oiled machine.  Hundreds of workers help the project move along at impressive speed, achieving milestones weekly and transforming the landscape into a world-class facility.

The most current milestone for the project is the first stages of the asphalt which are currently being poured.  Running ahead of schedule according to the sub-contractor in charge of this portion, they have begun laying down the initial sealant to the track, the first layer of the asphalt composition which sits on top of the gravel.  Approximately 20-25% of the track has this sealant in place and the crews are moving along to complete this in the coming weeks. The track itself will receive three layers of asphalt before it's completed, with each layer being blended, cured and leveled to intense specification.  This process will commence over the next few months as the team plans to have the track complete in August.

// The Tour

For the tour, we discussed the overall plan and and design of the track atop turn one, looking across the whole project and observing the grandiose turn one.  Next, we rode around the track for the first time, seeing each turn and getting a complete view of the entire project. As Kerri said it in this article, and I'll say again, the magnitude of this project is immense and truly stunning. Standing from a top turn one gives an unparalleled perspective of COTA, however, nothing beats driving along the same path that will host the world's best motorsports series and their drivers.

Our tour continued from turn one around the entire track where we stopped to take some photos and talk about the specifics of the area. I was particularly excited about going out to turn 11 and traveling down the back straight to turn 12.  At just over 1 Kilometer, approximately 5/8th's of a mile, the back straight is long and has a nice slight right slant to it in addition to some mild elevation change. Cars entering turn 12 will be passing each other at 200mph, making the area around turn 12 an entertaining place to watch the race. 

We observed the crews working on turn 15 before we moved back to the paddock building to walk around a bit and see what's changed.  Already the exterior stucco and stone cladding is being applied on the media center and the west end of the paddock building.  Just behind the paddock, foundations for the team buildings are being poured as well, none of which were even started even just a few weeks since the Topping Out ceremony.  Overall, the activity around the paddock and main grandstand is contagious, and already I could hear the sounds of cars coming off of turn 20, heading down the main straight.

In a little over six months our Inaugural Formula 1 race will commence at Circuit of The Americas, making the reality of the project even more exciting.  We'd like to give an special thank you to our tour guides from Tilke Engineering for inviting us out for an exclusive tour of Circuit of The Americas.  They provided immense knowledge of the project, sharing with us the difficulties needed to overcome the soil conditions on the site and the techniques and expertise they've brought to the table after working on several recent Formula 1 facilities.  As a student of Architecture, this was a real treat for me, learning more about the technical specifications and strategies used to construct this track.  I'm thoroughly impressed with the Tilke team and their commitment to the project from day one, we definitely have the right guys on the job here in Austin.

 // Lots More Photos In The Gallery