Viewing entries in
Keep Austin Weird!

Austin's Inaugural Formula Expo is This Weekend

Ian Weightman of Formula Expo from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.

// Overview

Formula Expo is a new event, envisioned by longtime racing fan and Austin resident, Ian Weightman. Ian's dream was to bring multiple elements of Formula 1 to Austin and allow residents to learn more about the sport, hands on. In conjunction with Circuit of The Americas, Formula Expo is taking place in downtown Austin this weekend at the Austin Convention Center. The expo hall has been transformed and will consist of various interactive areas, or zones.

// Zones

Formula Expo Race Zone - Formula 1 cars on display from Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, Williams F1 and Lotus F1.

Fun Zone - 8 interactive simulators to hold hourly competitions with the winners being awarded trophies on the podium; Pit-Stop Challenge whereby participants experience what it's like to be part of an F1 team pit-crew; photo opportunities in an F1 racing suit and while seated in an F1 show car; test your reflexes and peripheral vision against stats set by F1 World Champions using the reflex trainer.

History Zone - showcasing the evolution of cars, technology and safety; seven F1 cars on display from the Historic Grand Prix; Texas All British Car Days and International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, New York. Travel through time by enjoying decades of F1 images from Sutton Images.

Technology Zone - learn what makes the formula of Formula 1 racing, including the key technologies KERS (kinetic energy recovery systems), DRS (drag reduction system), the green technology of the sport and more.

COTA Zone - Get an update on progress and see the latest renderings; opportunities to discuss ticket options with representatives; learn more about the Pirelli GP Challenge

Expo Stage - Interviews and talks from faces of F1 (names TBA); live music with performances by the inaugural Band of The Year contestants.

Exotic Car & Motorsports Zone - Showcasing manufacturers including Lotus, Ferrari, McLaren Automotive and Lamborghini.

F1 Sports Bar & Restaurant Zones - F1-themed sports bar with fare from Austin area restaurants.

Austin Zone - exhibits from local Austin businesses and organizations including Austin Music Commission, Austin Technology Council, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, Austin Economic Development Office and a number of local artists.

// Details

What: Formula Expo

When: Saturday, June 16 from 9AM-7PM and Sunday, June 17 (Father's Day) from 9:00AM to 6:00PM

Where: Southwest corner of the Austin Convention Center in Halls 1, 2 and 3. 500 East Cesar Chavez St., Austin, Texas 78701. 512-476-5461.

Admission: $15 for online tickets; $50 for a family 4-pack; $20 at the door. Click here to purchase tickets directly or here to purchase discounted tickets.

Parking: Ample parking in the surrounding Austin Convention Center parking garages. The closest is the 2nd Street Garage. Click here for complete directions, maps and parking.

Beneficiaries: A portion of the ticket sales will go to The Seton Fund to benefit patients at Seton Community Health Centers.

// On-Going Coverage

We spoke to many of the participants today and will continue to share content. So if you can't make it to Austin, keep visiting this site throughout the weekend!

Speed At Your Fingertips

When was the last time you experienced the thrill of being behind the wheel in a race car, fighting your competition on the track for a race win?  Would you be up to the challenge to take on 11 competitors if you had the chance to do so?

The thrill of racing is unique and often reserved for a select few whose lifetime dedication grants them the chance to prove their skills on the track.  However, this experience is not out of reach for many thanks to the karting experience provided by K1 Speed. Karting is unique because it gives people the chance to experience the full dynamic of racing in a fun and welcoming environment for drivers of all skill levels.

// K1 Speed

The electric-powered karts at K1 Speed pack twenty horsepower into a compact package, offering the same karting experience that most professional drivers start their career on.  This is the best way to build the fundamentals of racing technique: learning how to take advantage of the racing line, using both braking and accelerator, and the best of all, learning how to pass another driver.

K1 Speed, the largest indoor karting company with locations throughout the US and based in California, just opened their first Texas location in north Austin. I went out to check it out myself and see what the rage is all about.

// The Experience

First-time racers sign up at the welcome kiosk and create a personalized account to track racing performance throughout their driving career. Using a point based system similar to grand prix racing, drivers are awarded "K1RS" which reflect their position and overall performance.

Once regsitered, drivers queue for the next scheduled race, which consists of up to 12 racers at a time. Once geared up with a helmet, drivers stage in the pits while another race is underway, receiveing instructions on how to adjust their seating position and secure their harness.  When the other racers return to the pits, the barriers are opened and your turn is up.  Karts are speed limited during this session, allowing all karts to get on the track safely and the barrier to be returned to position.  Shortly after, the full throttle is engaged and all of the sudden, you're off! 

The cars are quick and nimble, taking turns and holding the racing line quite well.  No, you won't be shattering any speed records, but unless you're already a seasoned racer, this is by far the most fun you're going to have on four wheels.

I was impressed with the speed and the quality of handling from the kart.  It took a second to get accustomed to performance, but once I got comfortable with the brake feel and limit of the handling, I was on my way to the top, working past several cars as I increased my pace. Starting out in ninth I gained several places before spinning out mid-race while trying to make the gap for a pass, losing several places in the process.  The pressure mounted as I frantically tried to regain my position and having to overtake but I was only able to regain up to fifth position. 

At the end of our 12 laps, I was surprised that my hands were glued to the wheel and in throbbing from gripping the wheel so tightly. I was totally immersed in the experience and had a blast while behind the wheel. I would highly recommend going out to K1 Speed to check it out for yourself; they are conveniently located near The Domain shopping center and restaurants, but the entire family can have a great time racing, eating or playing video games at K1 Speed.

// Details

K1 Speed Austin
2500 McHale Court
Austin, TX 78758

Hours (Subject to Change)
Monday-Thursday: 12 noon - 10PM
Friday, Saturday: 11AM - 11PM
Sunday: 11AM - 7PM


// Austin Tip

Leave the flip-flops at home; you'll want to wear closed-toe shoes while karting for best performance and safety!

Hotel Bookings will Help Austin Youth

Today Circuit of The Americas announced their partnership with Austin-based Hotels for Hope, the social enterprise that raises funds and awareness for nonprofit organizations that positively impact the lives of children. COTA and H4H are teaming up to raise money for Central Texas youth-focused nonprofits through hotel rooms booked for our November F1 race.

// How It Works

Participating hotels will make a $1 donation per actualized room night, with Hotels for Hope matching that donation. That means $2 for every hotel room night booked through Hotels for Hope in relation to the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ will go to the Hotels for Hope Fund, which will then distribute those monies to Austin Partners in Education and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Monies donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area will be dedicated to the Boys & Girls Club program now being developed in the Del Valle Independent School District.

Neil Goldman, Hotels for Hope founder and owner, added:

Hotels for Hope is excited to work with Circuit of The Americas to provide this important community service in conjunction with the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™, an international sports and entertainment event. Since its inception just two years ago, Hotels for Hope has already made a significant contribution to our partner beneficiaries, all of which make a direct impact on the lives of children. We look forward to helping guests plan for their trip to Central Texas while raising funds and awareness for two very special organizations that help local kids lead healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives.

COTA Executive Vice President Bruce Knox is also excited about the partnerhsip:

Giving back to the Central Texas community that supports us—and making special provisions for children and young adults—is very important to Circuit of The America’s owners and employees. Tens of thousands of guests, including motorsports enthusiasts from around the world, will be visiting Central Texas as part of the return of Formula 1 racing to the United States. This collaborative effort with Hotels for Hope allows us to capitalize on the tremendous boost to regional tourism that the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ will bring to our area by also creating a way for visitors to support local nonprofits that make a real difference in the lives of young people.

// When and Where Can I Book?

We have been informed that hotel bookings in Austin will be available around the same time that general admission tickets will go on sale, which is "early summer," or in mid-June. Guests booking hotel rooms for the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ can make their reservations through the Circuit of The Americas website, which will interface with the Hotels for Hope online reservations tool. Travelers securing accommodations through this process automatically generate a donation and no further action is required on the traveler's part.

We at The Austin Grand Prix are personally excited for our friends at Hotels for Hope and have seen the positive impacts that they have on the Austin community. We started offering hotel bookings through their system last summer and look forward to continuing to support such a worthwhile cause. We will continue to update you with further information as it becomes available.

COTA Honors Project Team with Construction Milestone Ceremony

// More Photos in the Gallery: COTA Topping Out Ceremony

 // Ceremony

Earlier today, hundreds of hard-working Austin Commercial workers, contracting businesses and team members were recognized for their hard work at a "Topping Out" ceremony at the Circuit of The Americas. A tradition around the world, Topping Out ceremonies celebrate the completion of structural work on a project as an honorary evergreen tree is placed alongside state and national flags atop the structure; this symbolizes growth and is said to bring ongoing luck to a construction project.

Supporters gathered at the southeast point of the three-leval, 270,000 square foot pit building where the symbolic tree was hoisted after a ceremony. Guests shared in the excitement as Circuit investors Red McCombs and Bobby Epstein presented State Senator Judith Zaffirini, Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gomez, Austin Commercial SVP Bill McAdoo and newly announced Circuit investor and local entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria. They each shared what the premium sports, entertainment and business development facility in southeast Travis County meant to them before placing tokens of today into a time capsule, to be buried and then opened in 25 years.

Red McCombs added a newly-minted silver dollar after joking about holding onto it for its current value. Bobby Epstein included a packet of Texas wild flowers; instead of a previously planned neighborhood in this locale, Circuit of The Americas will work to showcase and preserve the natural beauty of Texas Hill County. State Senator Judith Zaffirini delivered an inspiring speech before rolling up a 2012 Formula 1 driver lineup poster to the time capsule. She highlighted F1 driver Sergio Perez's excitement for Circuit of The Americas as his home circuit and emulated what many Americans already feel, "Mi Casa, Su Casa," in order to open our doors to our international neighbors and friends. Bill McAdoo added a current COTA site plan while John Paul DeJoria dropped a CD of Austin music into the box, signifying our recognition as The Live Music Capitol of The World.

Circuit president Steve Sexton also recognized the hard work and effort of all:

This project has required the continuous efforts from many different groups and individuals throughout the area. This ceremony marks a significant milestone in the construction. It was important for us to celebrate this achievement with the many people that have helped make it possible.

Each of the speakers took time to congratulate the truly stellar team of workers who've worked hard to make this project a reality.  In just one year, the project has transformed from little more than a bare piece of land into an amazing display of hard work and dedication from all parties involved.

Following the ceremony, everyone was invited into the neighboring media center to have some good 'ole Salt Lick BBQ.  Arguably the best in the state, if not country, Salt Lick proudly served the hundreds of workers and guests their famous menu, complete with ribs, brisket and some blueberry cobbler - Yum!

// Construction Milestones

Here is a list of the latest accomplishments that we are celebrating:

  • Support beams installed in the highest point of the pit building, which is completely structurally erected;
  • One third of the pit building's roof has been installed;
  • More than half of the requisite structural steel has been installed in the permanent grandstand building;
  • The road base for the racetrack between Turn 19 (T19) and Turn 20 (T20) has been installed;
  • Exterior stone work on the media, technology and conference center is underway;
  • Access roads through the paddock area (by the pit building) are taking shape;
  • Dirt backfill around the Tunnel 1 area has been completed with crews shaping the racetrack to cross over the Tunnel 1 structure;
  • Topsoil if going into sections of the infield with grass planting to happen next in those areas; and
  • Amphitheater is taking shape with crews finishing the earth moving to that area.

By the numbers:

  • 3.5 million cubic yards of dirt have been moved on the job to date, with 780,000 cubic yards of dirt brought onto the site;
  • 711.5 tons of steel for the permanent grandstand have been erected
  • 78,000 yards of concrete have been poured; and
  • 550 workers are currently onsite and involved in the construction process.

// Looking Back, Yet Ahead

It's almost hard to believe this is what Circuit of The Americas looked like one short year ago:

On Location at the Circuit Of The Americas from The Austin Grand Prix on Vimeo.

// See You Sunday!

Don't forget to join us on Sunday for our Downtown Watch Party for the Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix! Click here for further details.

COTA Adds Stylish New Investor and Supporter, John Paul DeJoria

// John Paul DeJoria

Just announced, John Paul DeJoria is supporting Circuit of The Americas as their newest investor. Best known for his international professional hair-care system, Paul Mitchell, Mr. DeJoria also owns one of the hippest and most popular spirit lines in the US - the Patrón Spirits Company, maker of Patrón Tequila (cue latest rap video sippin' Patrón). Most importantly, John Paul is a well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist, particularly in Austin, his hometown.

What some do not know is that DeJoria is also a longtime motorsports enthusiast.

My wife, Eloise, and I attended our first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1995 with our good friend, the entertainer Cher. We were in Monaco and Michael Schumacher won that year. I will never forget that experience, and I've been in love with Formula 1 ever since. When I learned about the chance to bring F1 to Texas through a facility like Circuit of The Americas, I couldn't wait to be involved.

Alexis DeJoria, her father John Paul DeJoria, and his wife Eloise DeJoria; Photo courtesy of Jerry McClureHis daughter, Alexis DeJoria, also has racing in her blood. She has been a competitive drag racer since 2005 and recently started her first full season in the professional nitro funny car division. Other past success includes racing for Tequila Patrón to become the fastest female driver in the alcohol-burning funny car division, as well as the second fastest driver ever at that level. She is also the first female to ever win a national event in this division in 30 years.

But there's more to this man than great looking hair and sipping tequila while watching a race. DeJoria started selling greeting cards at age 9 to help support his family and later served in the U.S. Navy with honors. He was homeless for a time before getting his break with TIME Magazine in an entry-level marketing position, then parlayed his marketing expertise into the hair-care industry. Joining his friend, Paul Mitchell, they launched John Paul Mitchell Systems and grew the business from a $750 loan in 1980 to annual salon retail sales of $900 million in 2011.

 John Paul Mitchell Systems Co-Founders, John Paul DeJoria and Paul MitchelJohn Paul DeJoria's business and philanthropic interests include sustainability and green technology, and he has served as a guest speaker for the United Nations and the Wall Street Journal's Eco-Economics Summit. Environmental protection and awareness is a key component to all of DeJoria's business endeavors, and he was recently recognized for his ongoing efforts to develop clean technology in today's modern world by being named the 2009 Goodwill Ambassador by the Intergovernmental Renewable Organization. Given CoTA's commitment to sustainability in the construction and operation of its venue in southeast Travis County, becoming an investor in the project allowed DeJoria to align his personal and professional missions with a sports and entertainment franchise he's passionate about.

DeJoria adds:

I am all for supporting a project that promotes not only F1, but all forms of racing and year-round family friendly entertainment and multi-purpose community use for Texans. Circuit of The Americas will benefit the region economically and help the community in the process, and to me, that's the definition of a great investment.

John Paul and Eloise DeJoria, at home with their 4-legged family members, in Austin, Texas. Photo by Randal Ford for Austin Fit Magazine.



I just finished reading the story about John Paul and wife, Eloise, in last month's Austin Fit Magazine. Here is a full article for you to get to know them better.



// Back to the Tequila

DeJoria's motorsports connections spread into other types of racing as well. Tequila Patrón of the Patrón Spirits family is the title sponsor for the American Le Mans Series. COTA describes the series:

The Series gives fans non-stop action on the track and an open and friendly paddock, while providing manufacturers with a real-life laboratory to push the limits of automotive innovation and technology. Recent technology breakthroughs in the Series have focused on the environment, such as the development of biofuels, hybrid technology and tire compounds, all leading to more efficient automotive engineering

// American Le Mans Series to Austin?

This is the most obvious question, especially with the recent rumors about IndyCar and COTA partnering up. Your thoughts?

Enjoy this inspiring video, "John Paul DeJoria Unplugged"

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.