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US Grand Prix shock: Race to be held in Texas in 2012
US Grand Prix shock: Race to be held in Texas in 2012
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 May 2010   |  6:50 pm GMT  |  219 comments

Tonight the official F1 website has announced that the United States Grand Prix is to return to the calendar in 2012 in Austin, Texas.

The deal runs through to 2021 and the promoters are going to create a purpose built facility to host the event. Austin is a thriving “It” city in the USA with a strong technology sector and a dynamic reputation.

F1 has been hunting around for years for a purpose built track in the USA, along the lines of what we see in Bahrain, China or Abu Dhabi. Recently there has been a lot of chatter about a US GP returning with New Jersey being touted and more recently Monticello in upstate New York. It seems that Eccletsone has had a lot of irons in the fire hoping that one of them would come good.

The Texas deal flies in the face of the received wisdom that in order to succeed in the USA a race needs to be held wither near New York or in California, close to fans of European cars or large expatriate communities, especially Italian.

In addition to the promoter Full Throttle Productions, the event seems to enjoy some backing from state government, possibly along the lines of the “shared risk” business model which has worked well in Singapore where a local government works alongside a promoter and underwrites the major expenses, to the point at which it becomes profitable.

The announcement indicates that this project has been underway for “several years” and Austin appears to be the first past the post.

A US Grand Prix is considered essential for a sport which considers itself truly global. For many of the manufacturers and companies involved in the sport it is the number one market.

There is a major push to bring the USA under the F1 umbrella. The failure of the USF1 team was an embarrassment, but now it seems that there are efforts to resurrect the idea of an American team and You Tube founder Chad Hurley is still linked with this.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has a better idea, he believes. He said in an interview today that he dreams of a third Ferrari in the stars and stripes colours.

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Being a foreigner, and also not living in the states, all i can say is if you get it right, your city and state will see the benefit, and believe that you are the envy of many countries and cities around the world. In some ways im lucky being in europe as we have so many choices of races to visit but the cost of tickets is ridiculous, where as with the spectators set up the way it is in america tickets will be significantly cheaper. all i hope is that this track is better than Tilke’s other efforts, which are quite dull, but to be fair he has to work to modern safety constraints – barrier placement, sufficient run off’s etc – that other older tracks such as spa francorchamps never had to worry about when they were built / designed. so once again, support it and enjoy it as if it works and you get behind it you will see the benefit that F1 can bring


Should have been in Chicago along the lake front then down the mag mile


Curse. Swear. Shout. Rant.

Tilke’s doing the Austin track.

Great. Just great.


Stay out of the the USA Tilke. Your sterile track designs are not welcome here!

Seth Williams

Yes! I couldn’t be more excited about this! I have been fired up to see F1 make a return to the states, and I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Austin! This is going to be fantastic! Can’t wait to see this brand new track!


This seems to sum it up from Austin Business Journal

‘Meanwhile, city of Austin and Austin Chamber of Commerce officials were unfamiliar with race organizers’ plans and do not appear to have been deeply involved in the deal, according to city and chamber sources. Although Mayor Lee Leffingwell was cited in the news release on the Formula 1 website, a staffer said the mayor was not informed prior to the announcement.’

No land found yet, city officials don’t know much about it and complete the track for the first race in 2012, yea… right…

Alex Nikiforov

I’m sorry to be the bearer of potentially bad news, but as per AP/Sports Illustrated and the words of mr.Tavo Hellmund, managing partner of Full Throttle Productions:

the German firm Tilke GmbH firm had been hired to design the venue

“Fans should expect the craftsmanship Tilke is famous for, with a priority placed on green building and a track similar to the great Grand Prix tracks of previous generation”

I really hope that something good will come out from the German engineering precision of Tilke with the American way of making everything bigger – hundreds of thousands of seats, hot dogs and Mexican light beer under the scorching sun…

I agree – Tilke’s tracks can be a bit boring most of the times on TV when it’s not raining, but when you give the Chinese GP a try behind a wheel in a simulator game you can see why drivers love it… i guess the same goes for Istanbul, but that’s about it

As for the place – Bernie goes where the money goes… remains to be seen if we will ever witness the 2012 US Grand Prix sponsored by Dell, Austin Texas

See you in Montreal James, your website is the first page that opens on my iphone every morning! great work….

Steven Selasky

No disrespect to Texas. I am sure Austin is a wonderful ciy with wonderful people.

I however, cannot see it happening using Donington as an example. In today’s tough credit market who is going to come up with the money?

Why not Watkin Glen. Oh, for sure it does not meet “F1 Standards”… Yeah, what does F1 standards mean? Can anyone tell me. Do you really need all the amenitities to hold a GP.

An upgrade Pit garage should all that is needed. Oh, I know… if we lower standards … then the other tracks would have a problem…

It is all a house of cards….



Great news. A first visit for a contra dance wkend there last year, liked all about it. I can see it being a success. Austin one of the most attractive US cities I’ve been in anyway.


Forgive me for not reading all of this, as time is tight, but wouldn’t it be great to see them racing at Laguna Seca??

Now we just get another Herman Tilke look-a-like track I expect, low on character, even lower on racing.

Robert Lastings

Texas?? Obviously Bernie and his European crew have no idea of what the USA is really about. I will NEVER work in hicked out, lame, racist, conservative Texas. Just watch what happens when an F1 driver is caught speeding in Texas.


Nothing against Austin- its a nice small well rounded city. Having traveled half a million miles in the past few years across US I can say this:

– Getting to Austin can be expensive for fans. Couple of airlines have a monopoly and very few direct connections from east or the west. I will start saving now for the air ticket 🙂

– Marketing wise, F1 needs a big push in the initial years if it wants to remain after the initial couple of years. Proximity to hollywood and silcon valley would have been a big plus or Wall Street in the east coast.

– in my opinion Vegas would have been perfect

Well its too late now, I only hope Bernie would have considered more than just commercial aspects.


James, if you can use your powers to help with this project, see if you can get Alan Wilson’s name put forth for track designer!

I’ve driven on two tracks of his. One was an upgrade and slight reprofiling (Le Circuit Mont Tremblant) and the other was a clean-sheet design (Calabogie Motorsports Park). Both tracks are amazing, and very well-designed.

If you can, try to slip his name in to someone with power!

Thanks. 🙂


It sounds like people in Austin are excited, and they’re proud of their city, but it’s not exactly a place where other Americans would choose to go for a vacation. I’m just not believing this has a chance in hell of happening, especially once the reality of paying for it sinks in.


Charles, then you haven’t read some of the comments in the local paper’s story announcing this deal. Yes there’s some excitement but there’s the usual cast of NAMBYs and other doubters.

In addition this Hellmund guy has zero connections to F1 he’s a stock car guy. And, this is big to my way of thinking, Hellmund told the local paper no land has been purchased for the track, only that he’s “looking” at three locations.

How do you get running in two years considering all the environmental concerns, studies and the like, AND with this coming out of the blue so to speak virtually no public debate about it.

Manny Rodriguez

Austin is great, and you make a good point. It is a very entertaining city that doesn’t possess the entertainment that many US vacationers are seeking… beach, mountains, amusement parks, etc. But if you love a great night out, or appreciate the outdoors, then you’ll love this place.


If Hermann Tilke gets the design job I’m going to slash my wrists.

James, I know your site is held in high regard by the powers that be, so is there any chance you could prod them towards these comments? Bernie needs to know how much the fans loathe Tilkedromes


While slashing wrists is a tad extreme (perhaps you are a more hardcore follower than I), I do agree.

Bernie needs to see this, and then take one of two actions:

1) Leave Tilke in charge of the infrastructure around the circuit (they do look amazing), but get another firm to design the circuit layout.

2) Force Tilke to take on a committee of consultants, including current and former drivers, as well as whoever designed the modification of Spa in the 80s and whoever has designed some of the newer circuits in North America.

Prisoner Monkeys

Bill, the problem isn’t Tilke – it’s the rulebook. Tilke has to follow it to the letter for the circuit to receive accreditation from the FIA. The rule book is incredibly restrictive in many respects, and so changing the designer will not change anything. The only other firm I know of that develops racing circuits to a standard the FIA would accept is Apex Circuit Design, and I’m told they have a bad reputation – there’s a circuit near Domodedovo in Russia that I’m told is a year behind schedule and over-budget.


Not read all the comments so apologies if I’m repeating someonelses view but…..

….does this remind anyone else of the Donnington Park agreement?


My guess is there will never be a race in Austin. To me it is a pure fantasy. From what I read elsewhere, it makes no sense at all. Bernie just found a group of suckers to cash in.

Manny Rodriguez

One has to wonder what kind of deal was struck. This race will need to be developed from the ground up, race fans included. Austin is a very optimistic city, and I have to say, one of the best in the US. Hope the stars align for this one!


I just hope this circuit has one or 2 ‘insane’ sections, like Turkey’s Turn 8, a long straight, and plenty of elevation changes.


James, please can we have a huge campaign to stop any Tilke involvement in this circuit. Although the cynic in me is saying that the ink’s already dry on his contract.


A few small thoughts after reading some comments..

– The USA vs Euro snobbery is an aspect of our societies, and it rear it’s ugly head a little in these comments, but thankfully only by a small number of people.

– Tilke gets a bad wrap, because it’s the cool thing to do to bash his name. How many people criticising his tracks have actually driven them, or driven them in sims? The cars are the reason for overtaking, not the tracks. Most of the tracks are fine, good even. You don’t judge a track by it’s runoffs, you judge it by it’s corners. They are very technical challenging, and fun to drive circuits. Except Valencia.. Valencia is absolutely awful in every way. The main reason for the runoffs is FIA safety standards, not the track designer.

– People saying what about tracks like Laguna Seca, don’t understand F1.. at all. Yes, I agree it’s a fantastic track, and I love love love it. It works for MotoGP, but F1 cars to too big for it. It could never work for F1 cars. Kyalami (modern version) is another track I love, that’s just too small for modern F1 cars.

I’ll be honest, the only time I had heard of Austin was because blues guitarist Eric Johnson is from there. I’m sure it’s a great place. I agree with those who say Texas is a strange choice for the race, you would have thought it would be closer to California or NY, but it could work out quite well.

I am very happy F1 is returning to the USA, but absolutely cringe when hear Luca talking about his stupid 3rd cars again. Putting American flag colours on the livery, can his idea get any worse?

Maybe next year in the NBA, LeBron James can where English flag for his jersey, to see if more Brits will watch the NBA.


Answer this: why are races at Spa, Monza, Suzuka, etc, so much more interesting? Even just watching a F1 car by itself on these circuits is justification alone that they are better than Tilke’s circuits, irrespective of overtaking.

I have always judged Tilke’s designs by the corners. One or two corners aside, almost all of them are constant-radius, 2nd gear corners (or would be 2nd gear in most cars, maybe 3rd in an F1 car). There are long straights and tight corners. There is hardly ever any flow, from what I can tell from the outside. It’s just the same thing, over and over. Monza, even with all of the chicanes, is still an epic circuit. Suzuka, with all the various shapes and profiles of corners, has this magical presence (and watching an F1 car go around there is magical too!). With Spa, there is no explanation needed.

Dull corners designed in CAD, then executed so that each particle of asphalt is in its exact place, will result in a dull circuit. What they need to go back to is hand-drawn designs on a big sheet of paper (doesn’t Newey still hand-draw his designs?), and then roughly plot out the circuit, and pave. That’s the only way that you’ll get the little idiosyncrasies that give a circuit character.


Add Interlagos and Silverstone to the list of awesome tracks. Minor brain-fade on my part for not including them in the original list. 😉


“Tilke gets a bad wrap, because it’s the cool thing to do to bash his name. How many people criticising his tracks have actually driven them, or driven them in sims?”

Your priorities are mistaken. The important thing is making sure the fans enjoy watching a race. If a race isn’t enjoyable to watch then people won’t watch it, which is exactly what the organisers don’t want.

Apart from Malaysia, I don’t really enjoy watching races on any of Tilke’s circuits- I would much rather watch a race on any of the “traditional” tracks. This, means that I dislike Tilke tracks, end of- the drivers’ opinions dont’t affect my enjoyment.

“Except Valencia.. Valencia is absolutely awful in every way.”

Oh, do tell us about the time you drove on the Valencia circuit then.

Robert Powers

Austin will bring in fans from all Texas cities across the board.Don’t know if any other Texas city could do that.

Austin is an international city,because of the University of Texas.It has a population from all over the world,like large US cities do.

Austin has some of the best golf courses anywhere.The hill country,along with the highland lakes have no equal.

To build this track and create this event will be a cinch.To host this particular brand is no problem-F1 belongs in Texas,and we will set new standards for the rest of the world.

One new standard will be set as soon as the first race day arrives-the top paddock and grid girls of the year,every year.


Apart from Americans this must be great news for the manufacturers . Toyota , Honda ,BMW would be sad . Ferrari, Merc delighted !

As with so many of the fans here I hope its not another boring Tilke design .


Folks, please read the 2 online Austin, Tx papers, “statesman” & “Austin Business Journal” re: this matter. Then let’s have Bernie lay down on a couch and he can talk to someone and get this all out of his system.


I agree with RickeeBoy,

This won’t happen,


I lived in Houston Texas for 5 years and I can tell you that the majority of Texans are not even aware of Formula 1 never mind interested in it. To be honest they’re not interested in anything outside of Texas let alone anything outside of the U.S. Texas is a big state and Austin is hundreds of miles from other big cities like Houston and Dallas. I can’t believe they’ll get large numbers at the race so I predict lots of empty grandstands.


Thats a shame and seems like a waste of an event then… I really hope not…

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