Another milestone: Circuit of the Americas begins final paving process
By Berthold Bouman
Last week Grand Prix Journal reported the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) had finished the very first layer of the race track, this week COTA announced they have begun with the final paving process of the track of the purpose-built Formula One facility situated South-East of Austin, Texas, the circuit will host the FIA Formula One United States Grand Prix on November 18.
The paving will include the final layer of the race track, but also includes paving the venue’s access and service roads and the walkways around circuit. A major undertaking and in a statement the COTA said, “A paving project this large and complex requires acute attention to detail to ensure the finished surface can accommodate varying weather conditions, as well as high performance vehicles racing at extremely high speeds throughout the year.”
Circuit Vice President of Public and Community Relations Julie Loignon said, “This is an exciting milestone in our construction process, and will help us quickly transform Circuit of The Americas from a construction site into a working sports and entertainment facility.”
And she added the circuit is confident to obtain the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Grade 1 status, which means the track is also fit for Formula One, “Our paving team, which is comprised of Austin Commercial, Tilke GmbH and a variety of subcontractors, has extensive experience in projects requiring this extreme level of detail, and we’re confident the end result will be a Grade 1 racetrack that puts Austin on the world motorsports map.”
The statement further read, “The pavement material itself has a unique composition compared to that used for public roadways. It is required to be highly skid-resistant for the type of vehicles driving on the track, as well as the high speeds being reached. The composition ensures consistency of texture, smoothness of ride, and the conformance to the specifications outlined by motorsports governing body, the FIA.”
The COTA has also announced 1978 Formula One World Champion, 1969 Indy 500 winner and four-times IndyCar title winner (three under USAC-sanctioning, one under CART), and now COTA’s official ambassador Mario Andretti, will drive the very first lap on the new circuit.
“I said it a million times and I will continue to say it: the Formula One fan base in the United States is very much understated and I think it will be embraced now to have a proper, solid home. Something that you can look forward to every year and not just move around. This now is solid. Formula One fans can now rejoice, in my opinion, as we now finally have a home,” Andretti said earlier this year.
And the veteran driver added, “I think that there are many youngsters in the United States who could start to dream about racing in Formula One. But they would need some help — some sponsors to get behind them to land seats in top teams — not just be there, but to have real chances for results and to give the sport a real chance to get popular. An American in Formula One will be good for Formula One – and it is good for America. It’s win-win.”
And two of those Americans who dream of racing in Formula One are actually already very close to it: Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly. Rossi is already involved in Formula One as he is Caterham’s test driver and drove the Caterham F1 car during Friday morning practice for the Spanish Grand Prix and he will also make his appearance on Friday morning during the United States Grand Prix.
Of course the 20-year old Rossi can hardly wait until November. “It is difficult to put into words now, but I’d say it would be ten times cooler than what I dealt with in Spain. There is a lot of pride in driving out the pit lane and onto the track as an American as Formula One returns to America,” he said. “The Austin layout looks fantastic as they tried to incorporate some of the best corners in Formula One into the one track.”
Daly is currently participating in the GP3 series, and he is equally enthusiastic about the new track. “I was there about a year ago to check out the facility at the Circuit of The Americas. It is really fantastic to see that it is all progressing. I know that everyone in Europe has been excited about going to the United States,” said Daly.
There are still tickets available for the Formula One United States Grand Prix, visit http://circuitoftheamericas.com/tickets for more information.