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Tilke Engineering

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Every Man's an Island...

Somebody famous once coined an expression about ‘money making the world go around’, which could so readily be linked to ‘oiling the wheels of an industry’ and, let’s face it, Formula One is a financially-orientated industry that makes millionaires out of its victors, as it travels the globe and (hopefully) aids prosperity, by promoting inward investment, tourism, sporting prowess and entrepreneurial spirit. However, Abu Dhabi is in the heartland of the oil business and, without it, Grand Prix would be a whole lot less slick.

From "Guten Tag" To GO

KUT, one of the top public radio stations in the country and Austin's local affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR), has released a neat video of Circuit of The Americas like you have never seen (or heard) before.

They interviewed Alessandro Tassisto, Architect, and Oliver Liedgens, Civil Engineer, two essential Tilke GmbH & Co. team members that have been working on the Texas circuit for years. The video is captivating because we get to view it through the eyes of the men who have arguably developed the deepest understanding of the complex project. They have had to analyze everything from soil constraints to climate, interpret racing corners and driving sequences, and they narrate the video in their native German tongue (subtitles provided).

At about one minute into the video, Oliver takes to Turn 1:

We are standing at the starting line where, on November 18, 24 racecars will take their positions.

That will be a real challenge given the 15 percent incline here.

It's like you are shooting into the sky, because you don't know what's happening behind turn one.

The viewer gets the sense that they are behind the wheel as Oliver maneuvers a contruction off-road vehicle around the nearly complete circuit. The fresh layers of pavement have been laid, the gantry is in place and the FIA safety fence looks to be complete.

A great behind the scenes preview that we hope will have Michael Schumacher, Sebastien Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock, Nico Hulkenberg and others exclaiming: "Ausgezeichnet!"

Austin Pit Stop - May 5, 2012

Another bustling news week in Austin, Texas. Let's jump right in.

// Tour with Tilke

Very early in the week we shared the story and photos from our on-track tour with Tilke Engineering out at Circuit of The Americas on April 20. In case you missed it, it's here.

// Drag Racing, Hotels and Asphalt, Oh My!

On Monday, Alexis DeJoria, Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Nitro Funny Car Driver and daughter of John Paul DeJoria, held a press opportunity at the circuit. The Austin American-Statesman was in attendance and spoke to Alexis about her hopes to one day race at COTA.

On Tuesday, COTA announced their partnership with Austin-based Hotels For Hope and the initiative to donate $2 of every hotel room reservation during the November F1 race to two Austin charities, Partners in Education and Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin. 

An aerial photo of COTA by Lance Armstrong 5/2/12The following day, we got the nitty gritty details of the composition and detailed work that goes into the newest development at the circuit - the asphalt. You can start to see the new layer very well in this photo that Lance Armstrong tweeted on Wednesday.

// Not All Green Pastures

On Friday, Autoweek took a closer look at the executive makeup of COTA and the PSL pricing strategy. Today, the promoter of the Canadian Grand Prix shared his hesitations of both US races:

I am one of the skeptics who is not convinced that (Austin) is going to happen this year and I am more than skeptical about New Jersey.

He insisted it was not out of fear, but instead thought three North American races would be good for the sport, from a "visibility standpoint."

// An American Return to F1

Alexander Rossi on FOX Austin News 5/4/12Next weekend we'll witness the first American to participate in a Grand Prix weekend in almost five years as Caterham test driver Alexander Rossi will replace Heikki Kovalainen in Friday's practice session in Spain. Austinites were treated to an exclusive interview with Alexander on FOX Austin news last night. The "Friday Sports Extra" included on-screen interviews with Mr. Rossi, Austin-based motorsports commentator Jonathan Green and COTA President Steve Sexton while teaching Austinites about Formula 1 and COTA.

Alexander said:

America has produced some of the best athletes in the world and there's no reason why we can't compete in Formula 1.

By being the test driver for Caterham F1 and having the opportunity to be part of the team going to Austin and being in the American presence for the return of Formula 1 to the States is phenomenal for me. It's a fantastic opportunity to kinda bring, ya know, the love and support and passion that America has back to Formula 1.

We need an American driver in the [F1] series so Americans have someone to get behind and fully support and on top of that we need an American team.

I hope that not only am I able to get into Formula 1 but in the near future there will be more than one American Formula 1 driver.

// More Details on Tickets

The men behind a new Austin-based podcast for gearheads, Speed City Podcast, sat down with COTA VP of Sales, Todd Fleming. Jon and Les spoke with Todd about RV accommodations, general admission tickets, transportation in and out of the circuit and more. Great news, as it confirms that 3-day general admission prices for the November F1 race will be comparable to an Austin City Limits Festival 3-day ticket, of between $150-200.

Here are some highlights from the 45 minute podcast:

RV Spots - still working out exactly how many; will work similar to PSLs; people own a slip for up to 15 years; annual payment required; ability to stay overnight; 70-80 slips from initial outset with opportunity to expand in surrounding land like NASCAR offers; RV parking between T 11 & 12 (DRS zone) with abilities to see T 6-11.

General Admission Tickets - Individual ticket sales will start in less than 30 days, or the beginning of June. General seating will include uncovered grandstands, bleacher style seats; berm seating throughout but specifically on the east of the circuit in T 5-10; near the Grand Plaza between T 16-18; a large grassy knoll between T 17-18.

PSL Preference - If you put down $100 for PSLs but decided not to move forward, Todd suggests you leave it down because you will have access to the reserved and general admission grandstand tickets before the general public. Meaning, grandstand seating which is not sold to PSL holders will be pre-sold to those who put a $100 deposit down, and then will go on sale to the general public. Again, this should all take place in the next 30 days according to the interview. Todd went on to explain that PSLs help fund and maintain the facility; help COTA garner other races & extend the contracts with the race series that we already have. That's what the PSL is in place for; hence why PSL sales are important.

Under 200 days to go now until the Formula 1 United Stated Grand Prix in Austin! Stay tuned as we inch closer to the November race.

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