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Austin highlights circuit progress with ‘topping-off’ ceremony
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Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Apr 2012   |  8:09 pm GMT  |  26 comments

Formula 1’s off-track focus in Shanghai may currently be trained solely on next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix and whether or not the Sakhir race will take place, but another race that appeared in serious jeopardy for very different reasons towards the end of last year – the revived US GP in Austin – marked an important milestone in the new venue’s construction on Thursday with a “topping off” ceremony for the pit building.

Construction teams hold such symbolic ceremonies when they are ready to install support beams at the highest point of a building under construction and so, having reached that stage in work on the three-level pit building, organisers at the Circuit of the Americas facility brought together employees and local Texan dignitaries to an event at the venue on Thursday.

The guests included hair care firm co-founder and tequila tycoon John Paul DeJoria, the American billionaire who was recently announced as a new investor in America’s first purpose-built F1 facility.

Steve Sexton, the venue’s president, said: “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.”

The chances of Austin staging its inaugural grand prix in November seemed in serious doubt less than six months ago when details of a contractual dispute emerged between Bernie Ecclestone, Circuit of the Americas organisers and original race figurehead Tavo Hellmund, which resulted in workers briefly downing tools on the construction of the all-new facility.

The race’s November 18 date was subsequently confirmed on the definitive 2012 calendar published by the FIA in December, although internal wrangling appears to continue with local media more recently shedding light on a legal dispute between Helmund and track investors Bobby Epstein and Red McCombs.

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26 Comments
  1. Moog says:

    Looking forward to Austin SOOOO much more than a New York street race!

  2. Richard D says:

    Good news that they expect the event to go ahead. However, it looks like they’ve got a lot of work to get done to be ready for November, or earlier as they should run some other events there before the GP.

  3. DrewsyG says:

    I wish they would hurry up and make the tickets available.

    Having booked the hotel, I and others are unable to book flights until race tickets are bought. It is frustrating that we are in April already and there is no sign of when they are going to come available to buy.

    It is a shame because I can see man people making other plans and going 2013 instead.

    1. John T says:

      Other people have made the same comment as regards the tickets, in that there should be some more information in regards to the race, or tickets, you would think they would be some promotion by now.

      I checked the official F1 site, you still cant’t buy tickets from there, but you cant buy tickets for india either, and its track is built, and it is on before austin.

      1. DrewsyG says:

        Funny enough received an email from them this morning. They say ‘early summer’ – I guess they are used to people catching internal flights / driving to races and are not really understaning the global logistics in getting to a race.

        By the time the tickets are available, flights will cost a fortune. From the UK, it is not a direct flight to make things even more difficult.

  4. Ben Youngs says:

    Great news!

    I’ve been following the construction of the COA for many months. It’s a shame that Tavo Hellmund isn’t part of the project anymore after all the work he put in, but as a Brit living in the States, it’s going to be nice to have another option rather than Canada to see a race live.

    The circuit looks fantastic as well. I think Tilke’s excelled himself this time.

    1. Aryan says:

      It’s not a Tilke design. The specifically didn’t go for a Tilke design.

      1. Daniel MA says:

        You´re right Tilke didn´t design all of the circuit I think he was only an advisor or something like that but I can´t remember which architect firm designed it… who knows maybe Tilke got his way and only let them do the paddock, pits and press buildings!

      2. moxlox says:

        An article in F1 Racing about the track said it was a Tilke design.

        Meanwhile; that run down the hill into Becketts style corners looks like it will be immense!

  5. Paul Morris says:

    James,
    On holiday in Texas and visited the CotA site a couple of weeks ago, seemed a very long way from being ready, access road is poor for the last mile or so with no sign of work to improve.
    Does the circuit not have to be ready for inspection some time in advance?
    Paul M
    San Antonio Tx

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks – please take some pics and send them in to james@jamesallenonf1.com

      1. Kerri says:

        James – that email address bounced – “Quota exceeded”. Is there a better one? Thanks.

      2. ronmon says:

        There is a thread dedicated to the subject on the Speed TV web forum. Many pictures have been posted there by people who live nearby and they have a facebook page as well, though I haven’t seen that.

        My attempt to put a link here failed, but it is pretty easy to find with a little searching.

    2. anonymous says:

      Looks may be deceiving! The circuit in south Korea had looked like a bloody mess a few weeks before the race and still it was race ready when the Formula 1 folks arrived.

  6. Stone the crows says:

    Six months isn’t much time to get a Grand Prix circuit finished. It could be that Bahrain was kept because Austin is the one that might get cancelled.

  7. Heinzman says:

    Hope this one is a racers track, my humble opinion of a dream f1 calendar:

    Albert Park
    Sepang
    Imola
    Nurburgring
    Silverstone
    Catalunya
    Monaco
    Magny Cours
    Gilles Villeneuve
    Road America
    Mexico City
    Interlagos
    Istanbul Park
    Red Bull Ring
    Hockenheimring (2001 version)
    Donnington Park
    Spa
    Monza
    Shanghai
    Suzuka

    1. Trent says:

      Catalunya? Surely you are kidding!

      1. Heinzman says:

        Haha, yeh I couldn’t leave it off. And try and be positive, if that’s the only track you doubt in that list, it’s not too bad! :P

        What you change it for, Estoril? Kyalami?!

      2. Trent says:

        If it’s the 1985 Kyalami! What an amazing track that was…

      3. Heinzman says:

        Yeh was sort of goin for tracks that if given 12 months notice they could be ready! Old kyalami may not make that but I feel you there!

    2. anonymous says:

      Don’t remind me to that thing they did to Hockenheim.[mod]

      1. alexyoong says:

        The (Tilke) amendments to the old Hockenheim were a real shame.

        The old track through the trees was fantastic, with those lonely chicanes in the woods, and then the contradiction of the stadium section.

        All modern tracks seem to leave me cold. They just don’t have atmosphere.

        Look at Imola, not a great track for overtaking but beautiful to watch.

        Get rid of these faceless eastern tracks

  8. Kay says:

    It’ll end up like how Korea did, track with unfinished grandstands, mud everywhere, cranes and other heavy duty equipment still on site, etc…

    Not a pretty sight.

  9. Obster says:

    This is a big deal-a purpose-built F1 track in the US. Here’s hoping it is full speed ahead from this point for them.
    Amazing to see the actual photos.
    Thanks, James.

  10. Mike84 says:

    They do seem to be taking too long, but November is still half a year away.

  11. Steve says:

    They lost me last year with me cancelling plans to fly over there, Im headed for Singapore instead. For work reasons I need to plan these things a year ahead and they were still wrangling about it’s status back then. A real pity I’d have loved to have had a firm commitment that it was going ahead back then.

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