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Speed TV

Buxton's BIG TIME Bash a Big Hit!

Will Buxton, Pit Lane Reporter for SPEED TV, presents a TW Steel watch to Elle Cayabyab Gitlin, female karaoke winner at Buxton's BIG TIME Bash

On the Friday of Grand Prix weekend in Austin, Texas, Austin Grand Prix teamed up with SPEED TV's Will Buxton to host a night of celebration, honoring the kick-off of Formula 1 in Austin while raising support for the Austin non-profit, Meals on Wheels and More. The event was a huge success with a packed house at Fado Irish Pub that ran well into the night. 

Nicole and Thad of Meals on Wheels and More accept a donation from Buxton's BIG TIME BashBuxton's BIG TIME Bash was an amazing fundraising opportunity for Meals on Wheels. Guests were asked to donate $5 at the door and all parties involved were astounded with the final amount - AGP wrote a check for $2,135.25 and dropped it off with Thad Rosenfeld, Director of Communications for Meals on Wheels and More, and Nicole Sarkar, Director of Development, on the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday.

// This size donation can provide about 1,000 hot and nutritious meals in the Austin community!

Thad Rosenfeld, Director of Communications for Meals on Wheels and More, had this to share:

 "In addition to being the best source in Austin for all things related to motorsports, the Austin Grand Prix is also an outstanding community partner. AGP is always looking for innovative ways to help Meals on Wheels and More in our mission to provide life-sustaining services for the home bound and other people in need."

The night wouldn't have been a success without Will Buxton, who MC'ed the entire evening, welcoming and chatting up fans, posing for photos and even performing his own renditions of David Bowie's Heroes and Robbie Williams' Me & My Monkey. A number of daring souls took to the stage and a few even gave Will a run for his money: Fado employee Ali sang the unedited versoin of Cee Lo Green's Forget You, female karaoke contest winner Elle Cayabyab Gitlin dedicated Nobody Does it Better to Will, and male karaoke winner Warren Peck serenaded AGP's Kerri Olsen with Prince's Kiss.

Will summed up the evening rather well:

Will Buxton in Austin, Texas. Photo by Nicholle Jaramillo.

"What an amazing night, and what a fantastic figure to see go to Meals on Wheels. I've got to admit, even with the huge numbers of people who pre-registered, it was still a wonderful shock to see so many people turn out at Fado for Buxton's BIG TIME Bash. I hope we did what we set out to do, which was to welcome Austin to Formula 1, celebrate the sport's return to the USA, sing some songs, drink some beer and raise some money for a worthy cause. From the reaction of everyone who turned up on the night, the atmosphere in the bar, the many messages on twitter and now seeing this huge tally, I think we can safely say we ticked the boxes we'd hoped we would. 

None of this would have happened without Kevin Olsen and Kerri Olsen. They have worked tirelessly behind the scenes ever since the race was first announced, in the first instance to even make sure the race happened at all. Without their tireless efforts, I doubt whether enough people would have been mobilised to see the race through the vital planning and funding stages. I hope when the lights went out on Sunday they felt rightfully proud of the job they had done, and which they had done for no motivation other than their love of the sport and of their city. 

Buxton's BIG TIME Bash also could not have happened without them. Austin is their city and I want to thank them for recommending Fado and organising everything. I'd like to thank the folks at Fado for letting us use their premises, to Kevin and Kerri for making sure it ran so smoothly, to TW STEEL for providing the fabulous prizes for the karaoke competition and to all the fans who turned up, who made it such an enjoyable night, and who parted with their hard earned money at a time of economic belt tightening for us all, to raise so much money for such a great cause. 

I hope this is the first of many years when we will be able to join together, celebrate, and benefit the local community." 

In addition to the hundreds of fans that gathered at Fado to celebrate the return of F1 in America, members of the F1 paddock were also in attendance:

The night could not have gone off so well without the help of numerous AGP and Meals on Wheels and More volunteers. Thank you for volunteering your time to help welcome guests and distribute information about the good work Meals on Wheels does and how to stay connected with motorsports in Austin with AGP. Also, special thanks to Fado Irish Pub, Craig Steckbeck, Scooter Womack, Allison Berguin and Karl and Debbie Olsen!


If you would like to donate to Meals on Wheels and More, please CLICK HERE.

100% of proceeds go directly to Meals on Wheels and More!

If you have images you would like to add, please email us

Bob Varsha of SPEED TV at COTA Opening Ceremony

Last week we shared Mario Andretti's first laps at Circuit of The Americas' opening ceremony and then side-by-side comparisons of Andretti and Lotus F1 Team Reserve Driver, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, testing the new track.

After interviewing Andretti we spoke to Bob Varsha, the host of Formula 1 coverage in America, which is currently broadcast on SPEED TV. A few weeks ago we learned that NBC has picked up the F1 television rights for America and the SPEED network will no longer be providing F1 coverage.

Since first getting satellite cable in 2000, 99% of my Formula 1 experience has been through TV, and SPEED's coverage has taken me through the the last twelve years of the sport.  From the height of Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, to the rising stars of Alonso, Hamilton, Räikkönen and more, SPEED has been a necessary household expense and I've enjoyed watching their coverage evolve over the years.

You may recall we spoke with Bob after the COTA naming ceremony in April 2011. It was a pleasure to speak with him again and hear his perspective of the track, especially after he had a chance to ride it for the first time.


Bob Varsha Talks COTA from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.

As mentioned in the video, we'd like to thank SPEED TV for their F1 coverage the past 17 years. Thank you and we hope to see you on NBC!

V8 Supercars: A Primer

 Saturday at the 2012 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (Image courtesy of V8 Supercars, following is a special guest editorial by Jon Etkins, an Australian native and Austin resident who's offered to share his knowledge love for V8 Supercars with AGP.

// V8SC

Circuit of The Americas' announcement this week that V8 Supercars will be racing at COTA in May next year, may have some folks wondering what all the fuss is about – who are these guys, what do they drive, and why should I care?  The short answer is that V8 Supercars are the Australian equivalent of NASCAR.  But there's a lot more to it than that.

From Russia With Love: SBK

SBK at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah - May, 2012

World Superbike Championship (SBK) follows World Series by Renault (WSR) as the second international racing event to be held at Moscow Raceway. The newest addition to the international motorsports venue collection, Moscow Raceway will play host to numerous national and international events such as German DTM, FIA GT1, WSR, and SBK. 

The new circuit opened in July this year and welcomed WSR as its first event. American driver Alexander Rossi took to the track and finished P11 in Race 1 and P5 in Race 2, a solid position for the first event held on the new circuit.

Today's SBK race is the first two-wheeled event to be held at the circuit and should be exciting. New circuits have a constantly evolving track surface which makes controlling the bikes a more delicate strategy than a seasoned track. You'll want to tune in to SPEED TV and watch Race 1 at 3pm CDT and Race 2 at 4pm CDT to witness it firsthand. Though the event has concluded, there's no spoilers here. I'm avoiding the internet until I can watch this race and see how the bikes do on this new circuit.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the fan attendance at the race as well. Russia is beefing up it's motorsports collection to increase its global appeal. In addition to this new Moscow Raceway, the 2014 Olympics Winter Games' Olympic Park Circuit is under construction, and both are working to appeal to the international crowd. Bernie Ecclestone signed a seven year contract to host Formula 1 in Sochi beginning in 2014, so the F1 world is keeping an eye on Russia to see if they're falling in love with international motorsports.

The Art of Wet Racing

Without a doubt, Formula 1's ability to take on the rain makes it a unique series in the motorsports world.  Tolerating substantial downpours and several hour delays is the norm for the traveling event, separating it from the fair-weather nature of most racing (think day-long delays, such as the Daytona 500 this year). This year's British GP will certainly not disappoint, and for those attending the race, it's going to be a tough couple of days "mucking about" in the mud around the circuit and the traffic on the A43 highway.

We've seen that tires can be the deciding factor this season, evidence in Fernando Alonso's fight in the final two corners of the Malaysian GP with Sergio Perez, almost costing him the win.  The likelihood of such another fight is eminent as the potential of an "emotional" British GP will only be exacerbated by the buckets of rain pouring on Silverstone this weekend. Today's practice sessions were a combination of control and chaos as each driver struggled to pilot their vehicle across the delicate, slippery surface.  Though the action was relatively slow today, tomorrow's qualifying shouldn't disappoint.

Let's not forget as well, the recent remodel of the Silverstone circuit has spurred a love/hate relationship with the F1 community. Though Formula 1 has seen a bit of rain at other circuits so far this year, the new remodel of the Silverstone circuit has made the problems more complicated. 

In his rant this morning on Speed TV's live coverage of Practice session, Will Buxton (@willbuxton) let America know exactly how he feels about the remodel.  With a Pit Lane that's partially below the water table, the likelihood of flooding in this essential area is a real possibility.  Just how they will address the issue as the weekend continues is still a mystery, but we hope fixing floaties to the cars is outside of the regulations.

Rain filled races have made the history books time and time again, and no one would dare say only dry races are the most exciting. It is possible to go too far to the other side of that argument with Bernie signaling he's a fan of playing in the rain. Though the likelihood of sprinklers being added to race tracks for "fun" seem to be squashed for now, we'll be looking forward to a wet mess in Silverstone this weekend and hoping rain stays a natural feature of F1.

Indy Car Series to Expand Calendar With Room for Austin

On this week's episode of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, Speed correspondent Robin Miller spoke with Despain about the expansion of the IndyCar Series calendar in 2013. In addition to the recently announced race in Houston for 2013, Miller mentioned that circuit representatives from Austin have reached out to Indy to host a race. Miller said the following about the discussions with Austin and Randy Bernard, CEO of the IZOD IndyCar Series:

AUSTIN: Formula One is making its debut on the 3.4-mile road course in November but Bernard says, "They approached us about having a race next year and we’re evaluating it.’’ Is Texas big enough for an oval (Texas Motor Speedway), a street race (Houston) and a road race (Austin)?

Following up on this story, Dave Doolittle at the Austin American-Statesman reached out to Circuit of The Americas for confirmation of the discussions:

A Circuit of the Americas spokeswoman said officials have been talking to several series that have expressed an interest in racing at the track currently under construction in southeastern Travis County.

“We have no formal agreements beyond those already announced to unveil at this time,” Julie Loignon told the American-Statesman this week."

The potential to host the IndyCar Series here at COTA would be a real treat for many American fans of open-wheeled racing. The IndyCar Series is an American sporting icon with a very dedicated following, drawing as many as 350,000 fans to the Indianapolis 500.

Though of a different ethos than the typical Indy track, COTA would operate more like Infineon Raceway in Sonoma Valley, an exciting track with plenty of elevation change, challenging the teams and drivers on a different level than their more traditional oval, street or tri-oval races.

With an existing oval race in Dallas at Texas Motorspeedway, the newly announced street race in Houston, and a race at an FIA spec road course in Austin, fans would be given the trifecta of motorsports experience, the ultimate gift for an IndyCar fan.

One could argue that these events would be too close and would compete against each other, but I would argue the opposite. Each event gains collective exposure and promotion by the success of each other, thereby accelerating the growth of the sport overall.

Similar to arguments about competition between F1 races in Montreal, Austin, and New Jersey, this argument assumes the sport will not expand its fan base and the attendance will be split between venues. On the contrary, I have and will continue to argue the opposite, that they all stand to gain far more by working together to expand their overall exposure to the entire American market.

Finally, COTA has said in the past that they're intending to expand their motorsports offering beyond F1, MotoGP, and V8 Supercars. Given the large existing market of fans and sponsors in American motorsports like Grand-Am, ALMS, NASCAR, and many others, IndyCar would be a valuable asset to their programming list and a gateway into the existing American fan base and sponsorship markets.