Formula One Revives U.S. Grand Prix in Texas

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at the Monte Carlo Circuit on May 16, 2010 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

    Formula One racing is coming back to the United States in 2012 with a long-term deal to race in Austin on a track built specifically for the event.

    Formula One, city and Texas state officials announced the agreement Tuesday, saying Austin would host the U.S. Grand Prix until 2021.

    The race was dropped after an eight-year run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000-2007 with mixed results. The most notable blemish occurred in 2005 when 14 of 20 drivers pulled off the track just before the race started as a protest over concerns about tire safety.

    Formula One president Bernie Ecclestone said the race in the Texas capital would mark the first time a course would be built specifically for an F1 race in the United States.

    Before its run in Indianapolis, Formula One had been hosted by Long Beach, Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix on city street circuits. The race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was run on a road course built inside the oval track.

    Tavo Hellmund, managing partner of race promoter Full Throttle Productions, said the Austin track and grandstand would be built "within 10 miles" of the Austin airport. Hellmund said the track will be at least 3 miles long. He declined to release further details, including the size of the grandstand and total cost.

    Austin city officials and Texas Comptroller Susan Combs helped promoters pitch the location. Hellmund said the facility would be privately financed and will not use public money.

    "The visibility and prestige of this event will spotlight our state on an international stage," Combs said in a statement.

    Austin, with a metro area population of about 1.7 million, is a three-hour drive or less from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Hellmund said Austin had to compete with interest for the race "from New York to Miami."

    F1 officials who visited Austin were impressed with the city and the plan to build a Grand Prix-specific course, Hellmund said.

    "You don't put Austin in same sentence as Monaco or Singapore, but everyone was blown away," Hellmund said. "Austin has grown up ... I think they fell in love with the city. It isn't a one-trick pony where we're going to set up a street course."

    Formula One officials have not yet set a date for the 2012 race.