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Austin Pit Stop

Austin Pit Stop - May 18, 2012

Today marks the official six month mark until the Inaugural Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. What better way to celebrate than with a ton of news about motorsports and Austin!

// Austin News

Picture of the Ferrari F2001 on display by Austin Auto ShowThe 2012 Austin Auto Show is this weekend at the Austin Convention Center. Peruse the latest offerings from auto manufacturers and enjoy some extra perks, like the "Sim-Zilla" racing simulator by Ford (watch a video on their Facebook page here) and two Formula 1 show cars on display - a Ferrari F2001 that was driven by Michael Schumacher and the Williams FW33 with updated livery.

Tickets are $7 and the show runs Friday through Sunday from 10AM-10PM except on Sunday, when it ends at 6:00PM.

Formula Expo continues to add to their roster, with representatives from Williams and Lotus F1 Teams announced to attend. In addition to a "Pit Stop Challenge" and simulators, seven historic Formula One cars will be on display.

Formula Expo is June 16-17, also at the Austin Convention Center, and ticket packages range from $11.25-$50.00 and are on sale now.

// COTA News

The Austin American-Statesman reports Austin is "on track" for our November F1 race, shares a construction update and continues to keep public interest in mind while requesting access to records in the ongoing court case between Tavo Hellmund and Circuit of The Americas.

Racing towards the finish line for ticket prices, COTA sent out a pricing survey to gauge attendees' preferences in seats and understand what they are expecting to spend.

// F1 News

Maldonado carries his cousin away from the Williams Garage. Source: TwitterShortly after Pastor Maldonado's epic win at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend, a fire broke out in the Williams F1 Team garage. Initial reports indicated members of various teams were affected and taken by care flight for medical attention. Perhaps this heroic photo of Maldonado carrying his cousin captured the events of the day best. Read more on what is known about the fire in this Williams Press Release.

American Alexander Rossi made us proud during his run at Friday practice of the Spanish GP. You can read the full report here, and here is what Rossi had to say about the experience:

″I am very pleased with how this morning's session went. We completed the program the team had set and I acclimatised quickly to the step up to F1. This isn't my first time working with the team, I already have a day at the Abu Dhbai young driver test last year under my belt, but coming into a full race weekend is a very different proposition to the young driver test. Today wasn't about setting the quickest lap I could - there may have been another seven or eight tenths to be found but the main thing today was to learn as much as I could, contribute by following the plan, give the engineers clear, concise feedback, and not make any mistakes. That's what we did so I think it's been pretty much as good as it could have been.″

But we're also excited that Conor Daly, American driver and winner of last weekend's GP3 round two race in Barcelona, jumped in a Force India car this week for data aero mapping. Read more here.

The F1 teams and drivers are currently preparing for the next race on the F1 2012 calendar, the Grand Prix De Monaco in Monte Carlo. Stay tuned as we follow them to racing's Most Glamorous Race of the Season.

// Moto News

Yesterday the Twitterverse was chatting about MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner and his plan to retire at the end of the MotoGP season, citing his disappointment in the direction of the series. Today Autosport published an interview with the "boss of the rights holders to the MotoGP World Championship," Carmelo Ezpeleta. In the interview, there is a brief hint that during this month "we will know more" about the 10 year agreement between MotoGP and Kevin Schwantz in regards to COTA.

// Carroll Shelby (Jan 11, 1923 - May 10, 2012)

Carroll Shelby accepts the first-place trophy after winning the 200-mile International Grand Prix on April 3, 1960, at the Riverside Raceway in California. Associated Press.Carroll Shelby, legendary racer, Texan, chili-lover and father of the iconic Shelby Cobras and Mustangs, passed away last Thursday in Dallas, Texas.

Shelby won numerous races, including the 1959 24 Hours of LeMans and three national sports-car championships in the US. Driving a supercharged, specifically-modified Austin-Healey 100S he set 16 US and international speed records and was named Sports Illustrated "Driver of the Year" in 1956 and 1957. Unfortunately, heart complications forced him to retire from racing in 1960, so he transformed his passion for racing cars into building them.

In 1962 he built the first Shelby Cobra, the CSX2000, and in 1963 put his fleet of Cobras up against Ferraris, Porsches and Jaguars in Europe.

In the book The Cobra-Ferrari Wars 1963-1965, Shelby once said:

We knew, plus or minus, what capabilites of the Ferrari were, and we knew we would beat it. I knew that, if I could get the Daytona coupe, Ferrari wouldn't be in business.

Read more in this tribute, "A Life Well Lived."

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.

Austin Pit Stop - April 27, 2012

205 days until the Inaugural Formula 1 United States Grand Prix! Let's see what's going on in Austin.

// Austin Impact

 The pits at K1 Speed Austin!K1 Speed, the premiere indoor karting track with locations throughout the US, opened the doors of their first Texas location today. Based on the responses we've seen online, this is the Austin hot spot for all racing enthusiasts! Check out their Austin Facebook page for more details. Our friend, Caulen Lauria, got behind the wheel and set the current fastest lap time at 28.134. Here's what he had to say:

The track, the karts, the people, the organization and the atmosphere are fantastic! They were running a shorter track layout though to accommodate 5 races in an hour. The electric karts are wicked fun. K1 Speed is one of the coolest places in Austin!

Planning your Austin trip and wanting to create some truly memorable experiences? Check out the recently launched Formula Austin venture between Anne Fish and Andy Fish. I recently spoke with Anne at one of our events and her passion for Austin and excitement about F1 coming to town were infectious. Pit Pass even took notice.

Last week I attended the Formula Expo Launch Event and learned more about an Formula 1 expo planned for June 15-17 in Austin. We'll have more to share on this exciting venture in the coming week. In the meantime you can check out their website here.

Pre-asphalt is being laid down at Circuit of The Americas. Here's a sneak peak:

Pre-asphalt being laid on the incline to Turn 1 at Circuit of The Americas - April 20, 2012// F1 Rumblings

Were you planning to go to New Jersey next year? Some recent comments from Bernie have people checking their calendar - did he say 2014!? Read more here.

Tavo says he's still seeking ownership shares at Circuit of The Americas however McCombs says he's not selling.

Formula GP Experience with Circuit of The Americas and Pirelli TiresCOTA also announced a fun partnership with Pirelli tires, the exclusive tire provider for F1. They will go on a cross-country tour of sorts to share the excitement for our November race and offer exciting fan experience opportunities!

// Other Recent News

Last week we spoke to UT Marketing Students and co-hosted a lively networking event with EuroCircle. What will May bring? Stay tuned for announcements next week.

Austin Pit Stop - April 06, 2012

// Bahrain

Political tensions surrounding the Bahrain GP are starting to heat up as protests of F1 fall under the spotlight. Though Formula 1 claims all is well and the series will race in Bahrain, citizen journalism via social outlets is revealing a different side to the story. As with last year's situation in Bahrain where a 'day of rage' was declared should an F1 race be staged, we share the opinion of Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber who tweeted the following during last year's discussions about Bahrain:

When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport. Let's hope the right decision is made...

// Lotus

There are some shakeups with Lotus F1 team, as team owner Genii Capital has decided to cancel their sponsorship agreement. The UK Telegraph reports, and Joe Saward adds his comments. For those visual learners, however, here's a nifty flow chart that attemps to, ahem, clarify.

 A Lotus flow chart, designed by Joe Taylor (@DCLXIV on Twitter)

// Argentina

Motorsport is reporting that the Argentinean government will sign a three-year F1 contract next month, commencing in 2013 and replacing Korea. More here.

// Rubens in the Media

Peter Windsor welcomed Rubens Barrichello back to his webcast, "The Flying Lap." Rubens just completed his second race in the IndyCar Series, but hasn't completely ruled out a return to F1.


Seems like more and more people are posting aerial photos on their ascent into/descent out of Austin! Here's one from a covert Jet Blue pilot.

COTA also took their updates to the air and posted new aerial photos with a quick construction update, here.

According to the Austin Business Journal, Paul Mitchell founder Jean Paul DeJoria will be in Austin to celebrate the "topping off" ceremony for the structural completion of the Paddock Building at COTA. The ceremony is set to be held Thursday, April 12th, just one year since the project vision was officially unveiled.

COTA is seeking financial assistance from Travis County on improving pertinent roads leading to November race.

COTA is now accepting applications for volunteer marshal opportunities for the November F1 race. Link here.

// MotoGP

The first race of the MotoGP season is this Sunday in Qatar.  Free practice was completed earlier today with the three American riders, Hayden, Spies, and Edwards finishing 7th, 11th, and 14th in the pre-qualifying standings. More here.

MotoGP Legend Kevin Schwantz joined Dave Despain on SPEED TV's Wind Tunnel! Best wishes to Kevin as he recovers from a broken sternum - ouch!! You can wish him well on his official Facebook page.

 // Other News

RIP Ferdinand Alexander Porsche (1935-2012) - designer of the Porsche 911

Austin Pit Stop - March 31, 2012

// Austin Pit Stop

Seems Austin racing news is coming out on a weekly daily basis. We created Austin Pit Stop as an abbreviated way for you to stay up to date. As always, your feedback is welcome (just use the comments feature below or message us here).

// Children's Shelter Fundraiser

The Austin Children's Shelter held a fundraiser fashion show, "Fashion for Compassion" at SAKS last weekend. The event was a smashing success with sold out, standing-room only attendance! The highlight of the evening was a spectacular Canadian Grand Prix F1 vacation experience package, donated by Tavo and Aryn Hellmund. Here's what John Hogg, MD, Co-Chair of the "Fashion for Compassion" Event, had to say on it's overwhelming success:

The top selling item for the evening was, of course, the Montreal Formula 1 vacation experience package, provided by Tavo and Aryn Hellmund.  The purchaser naturally remains to be anonymous, but we are tickled at the generous auction price paid, which one could say far exceeds the price of a luxury European sports car.  Of course, I'm sure the experience to be had by the purchaser, and the connections and memories created will be a once in a lifetime experience.   The result of this and all generosity from donors and purchasers is that we will be able to continue the important mission of providing emergency housing for neglected and abused children and young adults, and help with their healing process.

Congratulations to the winning bidder and kudos for supporting such an amazing cause!

// F1 USGP Host Committee Formed

On March 22, COTA announced the formation of a Host Committee, led by Sandy West. No details about who is on the host committee just yet, but many large scale events implement host committees to engage community leaders in their area of expertise and help prepare the city for the event. Think of the Super Bowl, Olympics, and the like. We expect to hear more about this, especially as COTA prepares to make tickets available for purchase in June.

// Permitting Items for COTA

The Austin American-Statesman has been keeping tabs on some loose ends for COTA and the Travis County Commissioner's Office to tie up, mainly permitting and planning issues. We've been told it's "pretty much business as usual" so no need to worry. Click here for an update.

// Austin Visitors

You never know who is in Austin at any given minute. During SXSW our streets were flooded with celebrities and big wigs: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jay-Z, Bruce Springstein, Al Gore, Jimmy Fallon, Deepak Chopra just to name a few (Google for more). Two days ago NASCAR champion Tony Stewart visited Austin and slapped his seal of approval on our city for F1. F1-to-NASCAR champ Juan Pablo Montoya also made a literal pit stop in Austin Sunday night, refueling from our airport. And earlier this month, Wild Bubba's Wild Game Grill was delighted to welcome some PR folks from the F1 industry in for some wild game burgers.