AUSTIN (KXAN) - Formula 1 weekend began Friday morning with a busy day for people heading to the new track and for racing teams who will test the just-opened course course for the first time.
City transportation officials said that about 4,000 people had used the track-bound shuttles by mid-morning and that the wait was about 10 minutes or less. Some 450 shuttle buses that hold 50 were in operation and 10 buses were being boarded at a time.
Around 12:30 p.m., organizers lowered Friday's admission price to $4. The one-day admission price for Saturday is $100 and Sunday's one-day price is $300.
At the track in Elroy, KXAN got to look at the McLaren team garage as the crew fired up the engines. They heat up the oil and take readings before they ever hit the track.
Formula One schedule
Practice 1, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Practice 2, 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Practice 3, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Race, starts at 1 p.m. and is expected to last about two hours
Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button of Great Britain are the drivers making plans to run "hot laps" around the course looking for the tiniest of details in the layout. Meanwhile, mechanics and engineers were in the lab tweaking levels to get the maximum output from the car.
Together, if they can shave off milliseconds off a lap time, that's a win. Everyone has a steep learning curve with a new track.
"Friday will be crucial for the drivers to translate their simulation knowledge into the real world," said crew member James Southerland. "And for the teams to evaluate the tires and how they're working with the track, and aerodynamic upgrades as well."
Another crew member, Bruce Crawley, said that "99 percent of the time, we're just confirming that everything is running perfectly well.
"Occasionally it's an issue," he added. "So the oil analysis that we do is a diagnostic technique which will determine what is happening inside the engine.
With upward of 300,000 people expected for the racing events and the Fan Fest downtown, Austin police plan to use tow trucks and traffic cameras to keep traffic moving over the Formula One weekend. Track attendance estimates are up to 50,000 on Friday, 80,000 on Saturday and 120,000 for Sunday's race.
Sub-freezing temperatures and an approaching upper level disturbance could combine to produce some patchy freezing drizzle or sleet Saturday and early Sunday morning.
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Back in June, Governor Rick Perry signed a new law officially letting teachers and students use greetings such as "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hannukah" in school, all without getting in any trouble.
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The Austin Humane Society reopened to the public Friday after closing its doors for six weeks.
Sub-freezing temperatures will continue across much of Central Texas all day Saturday. A second disturbance associated with the winter storm that slammed Texas Thursday and Friday could lead to more freezing precipitation Saturday and …