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Guest Lecture at The University of Texas at Austin

Last week I had the pleasure to speak to two of Professor Herb Miller's undergraduate marketing classes at The University of Texas at Austin ("UT").

I started off by asking the students who in the lecture hall was already familiar with Formula 1™ and was pleasantly surprised with about 30-40% of the class raising their hands. I went on to discuss a brief history of the sport and share some heart-pounding sounds and sights of F1. They were early classes so if the students had missed out on their morning coffee, that surely awoke their senses. I then spoke about what The Austin Grand Prix was doing for Austinites and international motorsport fans, and how we've used social media to grow our business.

Professor Miller added:

I have become a Formula One  fan over the last year and a half and I wanted to expose my students to a sport that is the most watched sport in the world. I also wanted UT students (10% of which are international students and are more aware of F1 Racing), to see the value of using ‘social media’ to market and expose the world to this exciting sport and the upcoming November 2012 Austin Formula One Race. I constantly tell my students that marketing is key to the success of any venture or idea and The Austin Grand Prix.com is using a very popular medium to market and expose the sport to Austin and the world community.

It was great to connect with so many students and spread awareness within the collegiate community. The Formula 1excitement continues to grow in Austin!



Slow Down There 'Pardner, Keep Your Shirts On

Is this really what we want to see in front of us at an F1 race in June? Lets hope this guy gets a COME AND RACE IT™ shirt!Many in the motorsports industry were quite surprised when the FIA World Motor Sport Council established the preliminary 2012 calendar a few months ago and set the Inaugural Austin F1 race date for June 17th, 2012. If you were to ask any Austinite about holding a major event outdoors in the summer, they would have just about died laughing. Clearly, the WMSC and other primarily European F1 decision makers didn't quite understand the gravity of the heat in Texas, and what it would mean to the many international travelers whom would be leaving 21º C (70º F) average highs in Europe, would be very surprised with Austin's average of 33º C (91º F) for the month of June.

We expressed our same concern when we first heard about the June race date, but didn't bring it up, expecting it to be changed later in November, when the official 2012 calendar is set.  Well as Autosport is reporting today, Bernie Eccelstone has sent out a message to the teams about modifying the calendar for the 2012 season and is expected to push for Austin to be moved to November, just before the Brazilian GP.

This is very welcome news from our point of view and also makes a lot more sense logistically. Granted, the Canadian GP in Montreal is in early June and holding the USGP just back-to-back is logical. However, this would force the teams to either drive from Montreal or pack up and fly to Austin. 

F1 car being loaded on DHL plane for transportTransporting the teams is a costly and logistically complex operation, employing many people dedicated just to move the teams around the world. Thankfully, the F1 fleet of DHL planes on their way to Brazil in November, stop over at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) for a layover.  It's no coincidence that COTA picked a parcel of land so close to the airport here in Austin, whereby having the F1 fleet fly through Austin would be cost effective and efficient.  Things just keep falling into place, huh?

So what does this potential calendar change to late fall really mean?

1) It will be significantly cooler and more enjoyable for you to walk around the track, explore the various events at Circuit of The Americas and in downtown Austin, and allow you to focus on having fun in our fine city; not spend it hopping from shade spots to shade spots, searching for water, misters and A/C.

2) This will allow COTA to meet more of the deadlines with ease and ensure that the facility is at its peak operational capability when the teams arrive early the week before the F1 race.

3) As our friend John Maher at the Austin American-Statesman reported in April, the University of Texas at Austin (UT) stated it would consider moving a 2012 Longhorns football (American) game if it conflicts with the F1 race in Austin. A reminder that each UT Longhorns football game draws a crowd average of 100,000. Also, the F1 calendar is set prior to NCAA football schedules, which would prevent logistical change of schedule nightmares. More great news, unless of course, you were hoping to double book your trip here to see F1 and some great Texas football.

4) Ozone levels are lower in the fall than in the summer and will have less environmental impact. As discussed in the City of Austin's agreement with CELOC (the organizing entity for Circuit of the Americas to receive state funds), the Central Texas ozone season is April 1 - October 31. Therefore, a November race would complement environmental initiatives established by Council Members Chris Riley and Mike Martinez.

And to keep the ball rolling, Austin businesses in cooperation with the Austin Chamber of Commerce are working to get Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) to accomodate direct international flights instead of going through Dallas and Houston.  This of course means less layovers for travelers and a more internationally friendly atmosphere, so lets hope this happens as well!

 

This Isn't Our First Rodeo

Some questions are floating around about just how Austin is going to handle this huge event.   (see this article at Speed TV and Autoweek).

Keep in mind, Austin is used to absorbing well over 100,000 people every other weekend during the fall months for UT Football.  The Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 100,119 (and routinely sells out) and is home to the nation's largest high-definition video display.  Throughout the year, hundreds of thousands more flock to the state capitol: to experience the world's largest music, film and interactive festival, SXSW, which stretches over 10 days in March; to indulge in the biker lifestyle with over 40,000 bikers and over 200,000 motorcycle enthusiasts at the Republic of Texas Biker Rally in June; to see history being made while listening to the best musicians in the idyllic Zilker Park during the three-day outdoor Austin City Limits Music Festival in the fall, we can handle the increased visitors.

The new track is a different story, but that's not really as big of a deal as you think.  Sure, it may cost $300MM but we've got major corporations in Texas, including Dell just up the road in Round Rock, probably excited about the international exposure and advertising potential this magnificent race has to offer. 

In addition, our city council has lots of experience dealing with mega-million dollar projects like the new Samsung and AMD Headquarters, as well as many other big name operations.  These kinds of projects require major investment but also tax incentives to attract other businesses with the intention to bring in residents and tourism to grow the economy.  The city council has handled these projects with careful discretion to maintain local support while attracting the investment in the area.

Keep you pants on, this isn't our first Rodeo!

KO