INSIGHT: Behind the scenes at the Circuit of the Americas
Despite recent controversy and speculation surrounding the new Circuit of the Americas circuit in Austin Texas, the new facility is on target to be completed on time and on budget.
Almost 600 full-time contractors are working the facility around the clock to ensure it will be completed in time for the scheduled F1 race in November and then a predicted ‘spring’ race for V8 Supercars in April or May. It was also announced last week that the American Le Mans Series will host a round of its championship at the new venue next year.
Speedcafe.com was given an exclusive behind the scenes look at the facility this week and spent some time with the people running the show.
The facility will not have crazy intra-structure or design of a Shanghai or Abu Dhabi, but it has the makings of a spectacular road course with elevation and character through 20 turns.
The pit buildings, media centre, medical centre and main straight grandstand are almost 80 per cent complete and the laying of the initial asphalt was happening during our visit.
COTA Executive Vice-President Bruce Knox said that despite the “usual” controversy surrounding such a new venue that everything was on target for the inaugural F1 race on November 16-18.
“From the very beginning there have been challenges and obstacles, but that is no different to any other business and we have overcome them,” Knox told Speedcafe.com.
“We are 100 percent committed to the Formula 1 US Grand Prix as our inaugural race and excited about the V8 Supercars race next year.
“You have seen for yourself the progress and we encourage people to head to our website to see construction updates.”
On the commercial side, the circuit has launched its PSL (Personal Seat License) program, which is common to sporting venues in the US, but rare for motorsport venues around the world.
The PSL will provide “season” tickets for F1 and V8 Supercars and other proposed racing series.
“The PSL program is 10% ahead of where we forecast they would be,” said Knox.
“Individual ticket programs are set to be launched in the near future for international visitors.”
There is no doubt that one of the biggest challenges for the circuit will be the road infrastructure to the facility with just 20,000 parking spots available on site.
A major park and ride service will be put in operation and a shuttle service will operate from downtown and surrounding areas.
The circuit’s head office is located in downtown Austin, about 25 minutes from the circuit, and is spread over almost an entire floor of a major office building.
Executive offices, marketing, media, logistics and corporate sales are all handled from this building.
A scale model of the facility sits in one room where sales agents can take prospective buyers and show them an overlay of the entire facility – which includes a massive grand plaza amphitheatre which can hold 17,000 people and which will be used for concerts and other major non-motorsport events.
“We don’t just see this as three days of the F1 Grand Prix, but a 365-day facility which will be an economic engine for Austin and the State of Texas,” said Knox.
“The economic impact of the F1 Grand Prix alone has been estimated at $US400 million.”
Throughout the head office both F1 and V8 Supercars imagery has been used to build an atmosphere of excitement.
TV screens through several public areas of the offices also show both F1 and V8 Supercars highlight tapes.
See below for our gallery for an overview of the progress of the Circuit of The Americas.[nggallery id=122]
See below for a tour of the Circuit of the Americas, courtesy of Codemasters’ upcoming game ‘Formula 1 2012’.