City of Austin getting ready for United States Grand Prix
By Berthold Bouman
The city of Austin is getting ready for the United States Grand Prix which takes place on November 16-18 at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the first purpose-built Formula One facility in the United States, situated Southeast of Austin. After years of preparations and months of construction, the circuit is nearing its completion, last month FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting visited the new track and gave it the official FIA Grade 1 status, which means it is fit for Grand Prix racing.
Meanwhile in downtown Austin, businesses are hoping to cash in on the Formula One circus visiting their town, but there are very strict rules and businesses selling clothing, water and jewellery need a so-called temporary use permit, which must be filed by November 5, the Austin Business Journal reported. Also parties and gatherings need a similar permit and outdoor events with music must apply for an amplified sound permit. City officials have hinted they will be checking for permits throughout the venue.
And there will be a lot of music during the Grand Prix weekend, as COTA also organises a number of music events, in Austin, but also on the track itself. Acts include rock bands Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, rappers Flo Rida and Lupe Fiasco, and Latin artists Juanes and Enrique Iglesias. At the circuit itself, Collective Soul will play on Saturday, and Clay Walker on Sunday, local artists will play on stages scattered around the circuit and they will perform throughout the weekend.
More music as on the same weekend the Austin Fan Fest takes place, a free festival which takes place around downtown Austin’s Warehouse District. There will be five stages, not all names have been released yet, but spectators can expect around 50 different acts to entertain them.
Not just music in downtown Austin, but there will also be Formula One team exhibits, race simulators accessible for the public, and other interactive displays. The event is sponsored by Mobil 1, Red Bull, Bud Light, Pirelli and AT&T.
COTA President Steve Sexton is proud of what Austin has to offer, and commented, “Racing enthusiasts from around the world will converge in Austin this fall to celebrate the return of Formula One racing to the United States, and we want to throw a Texas-sized party to show our guests what makes our city special!”
For visitors, the public transport services will be extended to make sure they make it in time to the circuit. The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority will add a bus line that will travel to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) and downtown Austin every 15 minutes, the service will be available from November 15-19 and a ticket is only one dollar. In addition, there is also a free downtown circulator bus, which will run until 2:30 a.m. every 15 to 20 minutes.
If you are a Formula One driver or a member of a Formula One team, and you have plans to arrive by plane, you have to make a parking reservation, as all aircraft operators planning to land and park at the ABIA, have to make reservations to ensure there is enough ramp space available, and ABIA therefore has set up a parking reservation system.
According to the Austin Business Journal, it is recommended ‘all international flights entering Austin should contact the Austin U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Authority no later than 30 days before the desired arrival date’.
And speaking of Customs, there’s also a list a of items you cannot bring to the track: Alcoholic beverages, animals, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, skates, segways, golf carts, coolers, thermoses or ice chests; fireworks, explosives and glass or metal containers; and also no guns, knives, pepper spray, handcuffs and nightsticks.
The organisers of the US Grand Prix expect 300,000 visitors, the COTA recently joined the Green Sports Alliance, an alliance made up of more than 40 international professional and collegiate sports teams and about 90 sports venues that work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other green experts to improve their environmental performance.
Also present in Austin: Aerosmith, and they are just like Formula One ‘Living on the edge’