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Austin Ambassadors

Exclusive: Geoff Moore of COTA at Innotech

We recently had the pleasure of attending InnoTech, a conference that brings together bright minds in technology, media, and marketing, and learn more about how innovations in these fields are changing our world.  One of the speakers was Geoff Moore, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Circuit of The Americas, who spoke during about the difficulties of bringing Formula 1 to Austin, and paralleled that problem to his experience at the Dallas Stars Hockey Club

SENNA Returns To Austin

With the arrival of the SENNA film at the SXSW Film Festival in March this year, motorsports fans and film buffs have shared a collective passion for the first time in many years.  Striking the chord of emotion, competition and passion, the SENNA film has reached an wider audience in the U.S. than the film's team ever imagined.

American Democrazy

Raise your hand if yesterday was the first time you ever watched a City Council meeting? Now raise your other hand if you don't even live in Austin, Texas?

Yesterday was nothing short of a democracy marathon. We were actively watching the live webcast, listening to the radio feed and tweeting the entire time. Kevin was in attendance and he donated his 3 minutes of speaking in favor of the F1 proposal due to other time constraints.

We thought the Austin City Council did a great job allowing both proponents and opponents to have their voices heard at the meeting, which began at 10:00AM with an exit speech from Council Member Randi Shade, broke for Executive Session at noon, reconvened at about 2:00PM and concluded with a vote at 5:00PM. KUT News reported an unconfirmed number of 243 people signed up to speak in favor of the approval of the F1 agenda items, 26 against and 3 neutrals.

Our Will Buxton Video was broadcast for the Council and in front of the maximum capacity of the Chambers. We immediately started receiving messages from people around the world thanking and congratulating Will on his "presence" at the meeting! Will was watching the Austin City Council meeting via the web from the Valencia Street Circuit, where all the F1 teams, crews, reporters, employees and supporters are located for this weekend's European Grand Prix. It was inspiring to hear from our fans from around the world that they were tuning in to watch this American democratic process unfold.

But while listening to the opponents arguments, we received a message from Will that he had further comments to share. We worked our magic and found another F1 proponent who was willing to read Will's letter at the Council meeting. Thank you Scooter!


Scooter Womack, F1 proponent, reading Will Buxton's email at the June 23, 2011 Austin City Council meeting on behalf of The Austin Grand PrixHere is Will's letter in full:

"As I sit here in the media centre at the Valencia Street Circuit, home of the 2011 European Grand Prix, I and many of my colleagues are hanging on every word coming through to us online of today’s events in Austin, Texas.

There have been some salient points made, but there have been a number of falsities and some scaremongering, which I feel it only correct to address, particularly in light of an ill informed article by Dutch Mandel in AutoWeek, which those who have displayed an argument against the race today, have almost all referenced.

Bernie Ecclestone has become a rich man through his control of Formula 1. Of that there is no question. But this is a man who was almost single handedly responsible for turning this sport from a ragtag operation into the single most watched regular sporting event on earth. Only the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cup get more viewers globally, and they happen only once every four years. This sport happens every other weekend. If you’d come up with the idea, you’d probably feel you were entitled to a cut, wouldn’t you? Of course you would.

But the anti lobby seems to believe that he and he alone will take the race hosting fee and run away with it. But Bernie Ecclestone, although still in charge of this sport politically, has for a long time not owned this sport. He is a minority shareholder. He is responsible for ensuring that the sport remains profitable for its current owners (a private equity firm)

But that fee doesn’t even go purely into the equity firm’s pocket either. This sport takes the money, divides it between teams to aid with their transport costs year on year, pays out to those who score well in the world championship and races. The sport does not run on breadcrumbs. It never has. It never will. No business can.

It is the highest form of racing spectacle on earth. Last season over 500 million people worldwide watched Formula 1.

Why, as AutoWeek suggests you do, would you wish to run away from that kind of exposure?

It is exposure which national governments have decided is worthy of investment to promote their country and host city for international tourists.

In the case of Austin it has taken individuals and entrepeneurs to take the decision and personal financial risk to build a track that, in most other nations on earth, would have been funded by national governments. Circuit of the Americas are doing this because they have a dream. And this dream is one which can only serve the people and the city of Austin, Texas.

As I sit here in this paddock, I am surrounded by hundreds of fellow journalists. In the paddock beneath me are hundreds of people who work for the Formula 1 teams and put these cars on track. There are hundreds of people working in hospitality. Around the track are hundreds of local people acting in their roles at the circuit, be it promotional, be it trackside, be it operational.

Hundreds of thousands of race fans will attend this race.

Every one of them needs a hotel room. Every one of them needs to eat. Every one of them wants to have a cold beer at the end of the day. And if every one of them has a good time, how likely will they be to return, not just for the race but simply to visit? And how many of their friends would wish to visit the city based on the recommendation of those who have attended?

This is one race. Formula 1 is one circus. MotoGP, Nascar, Indycar. They all operate similar numbers. They all bring an influx of funds to the cities and surrounding area in which they race. Year on year.

Two weeks ago in Montreal, the centre of the town became one big F1 party.  Every shop front carried chequered flags. Every shop was full. Everyone you passed carried bags of purchases. Day after day. Business boomed. As it does, every single year.

Again, to reference the autoweek article, what part of that is something that Austin would wish to run away from?

A ten year promise to pay $25 million a year is by no means a small investment on face value.

But the revenue from those who attend, the exposure that the city will receive, will dwarf the initial outlay.

But that depends on Austin. If the city embraces this sport, if it is welcomed with open arms, Formula 1 will open itself to you.

Make it happen.

This sport cannot wait to return to America. And to its new home, in Austin, Texas."

The outcome of the meeting was a 6-1 vote in favor of postponing the decision of the Austin City Council to vote on Agenda Items 20, 21 and 101. That will take place next Wednesday, June 23. The City of Austin has created a Formula One page which includes in-depth materials related to the matter. You can access the page here.

Thank you to all our fans. It is truly amazing to hear from people around the world, telling us that they have never been to a city council meeting, nonetheless in a city they don't even live in. We even got a message that a fan in Dubai was glued to their computer until 11:00PM watching the webcast. Amazing.

More info to come about next week's City Council meeting. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below or on our Facebook page.

Thank you and MAKE IT HAPPEN!


How do you summarize an amazing four days in a foreign country where you were welcomed by friendly and fun people from around the world and created lifelong memories and friendships? How do you capture the energy and enthusiasm shared with you from people around the world that proclaim their interest and promise in visiting your hometown in the near future? How do you retell the experience of hearing, smelling, seeing and, most importantly, feeling the rush of a Formula One race car only feet (or meters) away in a legendary city at one of the most historic races of recent history?

Perhaps actions do speak louder than words:

Austin, MAKE IT HAPPEN! from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.


For the F1 newbies, you may be asking yourself: Who is this man and why is he standing on a chair commanding the attention and uproar of a crowded pub, nonetheless talking about the Austin City Council?

Well, what had happened was…Will Buxton sent out a tweet inviting his Twitter followers to meet for drinks in Montreal the night before the Canadian Grand Prix. His pals Karun Chandhok and Charlie Whiting* were in attendance, in addition to many other F1 VIPs.

Will's F1 Drinks Tweet

Will is a gregarious and well-respected F1 pit reporter for SPEED TV Channel in the US. We met Will and he immediately shared his informed concern on recent and upcoming Austin City Council agenda items, although he admits he’s not so sure what happens at American city council meetings (and, who does?).

After meeting Will and mingling with F1 fans from around the world (including a lovely and lively bunch from Vancouver who would have come back to Austin with us if we had enough room in our suitcases :), we were moved, yet not terribly surprised at the support everyone shared for making the Austin Grand Prix happen next year.

The pub was jam-packed with outgoing people from around the world. Their common thread: F1 racing. When Kevin and I booked our Montreal tickets six months ago, we saw the importance and opportunity in experiencing a Formula One race close to home and returning to Austin with stories to share. We are *still* mulling over the 5,000 pictures and hours of video shot.

The more and more people Kevin and I met the more inspiring stories we heard and were able to capture. At one point, I went up to Kevin and told him to have his camera ready, just like at April’s Press Conference with Bob Varsha. I asked Will if he would garner the support of the entire pub so we could send a special message back to Austin and the City Council. We shared the plan with F1 fans throughout the pub, and then Will jumped up on a chair and shared his support, which is felt by F1 and racing fans from around the world:





So what is Will talking about? You thought everything was approved since the facility construction is progressing nicely? Even the famed Sutton Images had GREAT progress to report from their visit last week.

There has been a lot happening in Austin lately surrounding the Circuit of the Americas (“COTA”) facility and the subsequent Formula One races, which are scheduled to start on June 17, 2012. The most pressing issue is the upcoming Austin City Council meeting to be held this Thursday, June 23. At this meeting, the City Council will be asked to:

1. Approve a resolution authorizing the City Manager to complete the agreement with the Texas Comptroller and proceed with the Major Events Trust Fund (“METF”) establishment with Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix; and

2. Approve a resolution authorizing the newly created Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee (the “LOC”) to act on the City’s behalf and authorizing #1 above.

Let us first say we recognize how confusing and difficult the Austin City Council and Texas Major Events Trust Fund issues are to navigate. The Austin Grand Prix is made up of Formula One fans, but first and foremost, we are proud and loud fans of the great city of Austin, Texas. We support responsible and sustainable growth and expect all actions surrounding Formula One United States Grand Prix and the Circuit of the Americas to be in the best interests of the city of Austin and its bar none citizens.

That being said, we were pleasantly surprised to read about last week’s revelation that Full Throttle Productions, LP (Tavo Hellmund’s entity promoting the race and the major backer) has decided to front the $4M annual city funds required to access the State of Texas’s METF. This means Austin taxpayer support will be eliminated and COTA would still have access to the METF funds which are generated by tax dollars and specifically set aside for major sporting events. (Note: the METF funds CANNOT be reassigned for other state budget issues, such as education, despite knee-jerk statements made by F1 opponents).**

With your active participation last year, we were able to share your support for F1 with the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioner’s Office and we are asking for your loud voices to be heard again. Now we need your help to follow through on Will’s message to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

1. Share Will’s video with your friends and get people to post comments saying “AUSTIN - MAKE IT HAPPEN!” on the Vimeo video page, at the end of this page, on our Facebook page or send a Tweet to @AustinGrandPrix. Anywhere and everywhere!

2. We have found at least three different electronic petitions started by Austin F1 fan groups that could really use your support. Please take the time to sign each one of them and pass them on to your friends as well. You do not need to live in Austin or even Texas to sign these petitions!

Petition 1

Petition 2

Petition 3

3. As with all of our Calls to Action over the past year, your *personalized* and *individual* messages to Austin City Council members go a long way. I have spoken to Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez and he told me he READS EVERY EMAIL! Not his assistant; not someone on his staff; but him personally. I don’t know about you but I have a hard enough time keeping up on email. He has received over 2,000 emails regarding the upcoming June 23 meeting. Can we double that? (Sorry Mike! ;)

The Austin City Council consists of the following respectable individuals:

We suggest you make the subject of your message: “AUSTIN – MAKE IT HAPPEN!” and include a personal message regarding your feelings about F1 in Austin 2012.

4. Attend the City Council meeting this Thursday by following the instructions posted on this page:  Citizen Participation. As mentioned earlier, the Austin City Council will meet at 10:00AM CST this Thursday, June 23 at the Office of the City Clerk, City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street, Suite 1120, Austin, Texas 78701.

5. If you cannot attend this week’s Council meeting, you can watch it live online via the City of Austin’s Channel 6.  Although please be patient, as we had so many viewers tune in once that we crashed the live webcast – whoopsie!

Thank you for seeing this article through to the very end. As with all great things, nothing is simple. We look forward to your support and seeing you in Austin in 2012 – MAKE IT HAPPEN!


*The real Charlie Whiting on Twitter, however the Fake Charlie Whiting IRL (legally).

**This is our very brief summary of the METF issues. Luckily, our friends at the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Business Journal and Austin Chronicle have spent many hours hashing it out (just click on their hyperlinked names).


On Our Way to Montreal...No, Really...

Without a doubt, preparing for your first Grand Prix experience is a marathon of planning and strategizing. Dreaming of this day for over ten years, it all seemed a bit more glamorous than the past 24 hours. While not going into the specific details of our drama-filled day, we're glad to finally be getting on the road to drive to Montreal from Albany, NY.

We've gained a lot of, er, experience (of course, experience is what you get when you don't get what you want), and if the image of our temporary workspace in the Albany Airport as we await the arrival of Contributing Editor Andrew Swinghamer is any sign that we're ready to get this show on the road, then we're well on our way. (Thank you FREE WIFI!)

So, in just a few short hours we'll be in Montreal ready to see the Canadian GP Free Practice tomorrow morning! The day is almost here and it couldn't come soon enough...

If you are in town for the Canadian GP, swing by the W Hotel Montréal's Wunderbar tomorrow at 5:00PM. We've planned a casual happy hour to meet and chat with F1 fans from around the world. We'd like to meet you, introduce ourselves, and answer questions about the Circuit of the Americas track that is under construction in Austin, Texas for the return of the United States Grand Prix in 2012. We will have limited information and merchandise on hand to share with you!

W Hotel Montréal - Wunderbar
901 Victoria Sq
Montreal, QC H2Z 1R1

About Wunderbar - "Inspired by Montreal's distinctive seasons and magnificent natural surroundings, Wunderbar filters jet set cocktail culture through a local lens. The sleek, multi-level lounge exudes the outdoors' vibrancy while offering amenities consistent with A-list destinations worldwide.

Wunderbar is the centerpiece nightlife element within the W Montréal, located in the fashionable Citi Internationale district adjacent to Old Montreal. Leading nightlife development company bpc conceived and manages Montreal's latest lounge setting for hotel guests as well as local and international tastemakers."

If you have questions about the event, please email Kerri Olsen at Kerri {at} for a more immediate response (and cross your fingers that the Technology Gods are shining down upon her, unlike today.)

Wunderbar's telephone number is 514 395 3195.

*Please note that this is not a sponsored event. You will be responsible for your own drink charges.*

You can also RSVP on our Facebook Event page, here.

W Hotel Montreal by David Giral

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your 380 Days!

In just 380 days the construction site behind me will host the 2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

2012 Calendar Announcement from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.

This news comes from the FIA World Motorsport Council, who met today in Barcelona, Spain and confirmed the 2012 Formula 1 Calendar. The F1USGP is officially set for June 17th, 2012; just 380 days from today.  Though there are many construction and logistical hurdles to be cleared, and the viability of the track depends on a pre-race inspection, it looks like work at the track will continue to progress full-speed ahead in order to meet the FIA's deadline.

In addition to setting the 2012 calendar, the WMSC voted unanimously to hold the Bahrain GP on Oct 30th this year, following an on site visit with government officials and the FIA Vice President. If you recall, this year's Bahrain GP was set for March 13, but canceled on February 21 due to political unrest in the country. According to the FIA statement, the intention of reinstating this year's race in Bahrain is to use the GP to unite the people of Bahrain, but there are still large challenges to overcome due to the political and humanitarian state there. With this announcement, there has been loud outcry from teams, drivers and F1 fans worldwide who do not agree with this decision.

The Statesman also shared that next Tuesday the Austin City Council will meet with the COTA team to discuss enrolling the City as the "local sponsoring entity" in order to support the Major Events Trust Fund.  Despite rumors and speculation by naysayers, the METF is designed to be a self-sustaining fund that is fueled by increased tax revenues from food, drink, travel and hotel sources in conjunction with major events. Thus, the Austin City Council would play a passive role in this sponsor scenario, and according to Richard Suttle, COTA's lawyer, the city will not be out of pocket for the "rolling loan" needed to kick-start the METF. You can read more at The Statesman.

Well it's no surprise that we're extremely excited about this announcement. We set up a Facebook Event: Formula One Grand Prix of the United States, so be sure to join the event and socialize with us and other fans. We'll be posting information on tickets (the #1 question today!) as soon as it is available, because we want you to join us in Austin in 2012!

You can also sign up for our newsletter for ticket information and to stay up to date on the latest news from Austin!

More detailed investigations into the effect of the Bahrain schedule addition and the City Council/METF meeting next Tuesday will follow.

View from Turn 1 - Circuit of the Americas - Picture taken April 14, 2011 - All Rights Reserved by Austin Grand Prix