Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes Formula One drives in the rain on his way to a seventh place finish in the Malaysia Grand Prix at the Sepang racetrack in Kuala Lumpur, Sunday, April 5, 2009.
Updated: Monday, 22 Nov 2010, 11:29 AM CST
Published : Tuesday, 25 May 2010, 2:24 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Central Texas racing fans will soon be able to feel the roar of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix right here in Austin. The Formula One Group announced Tuesday the city would serve as the Grand Prix host for 2012-2021.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell said it's too early in the process to name a location, saying there are still "deals in the works." Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, helped pass legislation to provide incentives to attract events like Formula 1 to Texas.
The project will be privately funded, managed by Austin-based Full Throttle Productions, L.P.
The Texas Comptroller's office said Full Throttle is currently eyeing several different locations across the city. The mayor's office would not say whether a certain sector of the city was being targeted more.
"It's still too early to disclose a possible location for the raceway in Austin," said Leffingwell. "It's still two years away. Anything could fall through."
Sources close to the F1 series said the track will be within 15 miles of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, most likely narrowed to two possible locations.
The track and series will be used for research purposes into alternative fuels.
The series will attract between 150,000 and 200,000 people for the weekend it's held. Racing officials said they were excited about the move.
"We are extremely honoured and proud to reach an agreement with the F1 Commercial Rights Holder," said Tavo Hellmund, managing partner of Full Throttle Productions, LP., said in a prepared statement. "We have been diligently working together for several years to bring this great event to Austin, the State of Texas and back to the United States."
The Formula One group has said crews will soon build a "world-class facility" for the event.
"This is a case of the right timing in the right place," Hellmund added. "As many Americans know, Austin has earned a reputation as one of the 'it' cities in the United States. Austin features that rare combination of ideal geographic location and beauty."
The comptroller's office estimates this will bring about $300 million a year in revenue to Texas statewide. This is based on an informal study of past F1 series cities worldwide.
"Early predictions indicate this would fill every hotel room from San Antonio to Temple," Leffingwell said.
During last year’s legislative session, Watson authored and passed Senate Bill 1515, which clarified state economic development programs designed to attract major events such as the Super Bowl. It also specified that Formula One races could qualify for these programs.
Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau said the city never made CVB staff aware of the Formula 1 possibility. They just found out Tuesday through media reports.
The comptroller's office said the state and city found out sometime last week about the move. New York and Indianapolis had also tried to attract the series there.
The Indy 500's home, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, hosted the event from 2000-07, when Formula 1 pulled the plug due to a spectator decrease by half since the series began in that city.
"Texas' relatively strong economy continues to draw both national and international attention," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said. "I commend Comptroller Combs for her work in bringing this exciting event to the Lone Star State."
The largest nearby raceway, Thunderhill Raceway , is located in Kyle, and hosts a variety of stock car races. Another raceway, Austin Raceway Park, closed in the early 1970s. It was located in north Austin and stretched 1.5 miles.
Driveway Austin is a performance sports academy in Southeast Austin with an Formula One course designed after a number of famous courses around the world. President Bill Dollahite is a former F-1 driver and has some insight on what this means to central Texas.
'You think about all of the people that really do love this sport and love this that don't talk about because it isn't right in front of it and now I think you're going to see Austin becoming the center of racing not only in texas but in the United States and certainly after being gone for eight years with F-1, coming back here, this is going to be international news," said Dollahite.
Austin also hosted the Austin Aquafestival Road Races in the late 60s and early 70s at the Civic Center in conjunction with the Aquafestival.