F1 to race in Texas, USA in 2012

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Keke Rosberg won F1's only previous race in Texas in 1984
Keke Rosberg won F1's only previous race in Texas in 1984

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed Formula 1 will return to the United States of America in 2012.

But, despite much speculation about a race being held in or near New York, the destination for F1’s next US Grand Prix is Austin in Texas.

According to Formula1.com a ten-year deal will see F1 race in Austin from 2012 to 2021.

Ecclestone said:

For the first time in the history of Formula One in the United States, a world-class facility will be purpose-built to host the event.
Bernie Ecclestone

The race is being organised by Full Throttle Promotions. Managing partner Tavo Hellmund said:

We realise that over the last 30 years there have been one or two missing pieces from the previous editions of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

We have a tremendous opportunity at hand to do it right – to feature Austin as the backdrop and produce the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix as one of the great sporting events in the world.
Tavo Hellmund

The promotion company say further details on the race will be announced shortly. At the moment there is no information on exactly where the track will be or who it will be designed by, though it would a surprise if anyone other than Hermann Tilke got the job.

F1 raced on a temporary street circuit in Dallas, Texas, in 1984, but never returned to the venue. The United States Grand Prix was last held at the Indianpolis road course from 2000 to 2007.

255 comments on “F1 to race in Texas, USA in 2012”

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  1. Incredible news, instead of contemplating a trip to Montreal or farther afield I’ll have a race in my backyard. Be wary of anyone stereotyping Austin in with the rest of Texas, this city is a very different place with a mind and culture of it’s own.

    I’m interested to hear where they will build the track, east of town is rather flat but there’s land near the airport. West is dominated by hills which would make for better scenery and the potential for an awesome elevation variable course.

    If Austin is barely known can you explain the hordes of people that move here every year from the rest of the country? Austin is regularly named as one of the best cities to live in the states, and the city’s (and the states) economy fared much better than most of the rest of the country in recent years.

    1. US Williams Fan
      26th May 2010, 0:52

      “If Austin is barely known can you explain the hordes of people that move here every year from the rest of the country? Austin is regularly named as one of the best cities to live in the states, and the city’s (and the states) economy fared much better than most of the rest of the country in recent years.”

      I have heard the same thing…. while parts are of the US (like mine) are in a slump and population is dwindling – places like Austin are booming!

      I think in New York or San Fran or NJ there would be many restrictions on circuit design, promotions, schedule etc – perhaps Bernie felt that there would more freedom to design a circuit/event in a city like Austin.

      Looking forward to it!

  2. Jose Arellano
    25th May 2010, 19:36


  3. Robert McKay
    25th May 2010, 19:38

    Well, good to know we’re going back to the USA, with the added bonus of making the Canadian round more viable too.

    But when I read “purpose-built” facility, I can’t say I get very excited, regardless of whether or not Tilke is involved – which I’m 95% certain he would be anyway.

    But maybe I’ll be proven wrong.

  4. Ned Flanders
    25th May 2010, 19:55

    Austin seems like a slightly strange place to host the race, but Joe Saward has mentioned on his site that it’s “the largest US city that does not have a team in any of the major professional sports league”… which explains why they might need a GP

    1. Indeed, but the city is home to the main campus of the University of Texas. One of the nation’s best schools for academics as well as party atmosphere, the school’s sports teams are some of the best-known and followed in all of America. Those are the main sports attractions in town, but the USGP will further enhance that reputation :)

      1. That does not sound too bad. And from the pictures of night time Austin, it looks like the city can make a nice backdrop here as well.
        Would it be a night race, like the one in Jersey city planned to be?

  5. “We have a tremendous opportunity at hand to do it right – to feature Austin as the backdrop and produce the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix as one of the great sporting events in the world.”

    Gosh, how do I *love* that corporate lingo…

  6. Wow! Great news. I’ll definitely be buying a plane ticket, that is, unless Bernie also signs a deal for NY, which is my backyard.

    Please god no Tilke.

  7. I’m hoping they get the guy that designed the Monticello circuit, and retire Tilke to the land of traffic lights.

  8. Hooray! I always knock Bernie but also always acknowledge when he dopes something good – and hopefully this will be one of those times.

    Plus points so far:
    – It’s in the USA
    – It’s in the South, NASCAR country. Hopefully this will bring F1 more into the US sporting mind, instead of being some over-priced, elitist Northern day out (no offence intended, that’s just how some people think, I’m not one of them)
    – It’s going to be done properly and from scratch. Whilst that might mean a Tilkebore, at least it won’t be the rubbish infield we had at Indy.

    – Will it be a Turkey (mostly good), Sepang (carbon copy) or an Abu Dhabi (could have been good, ended up being underwhelming) Tilke track? Will it even be a Tilke track? I hope an American company gets the contract, it would really help sell the race if it was a jobs creator.
    – Will there be an oval element to it? Despite the move away from them in American series, I think it’s still nigh-on essential for an F1 race in the USA to include such a huge piece of its racing DNA. Maybe some kind of mix, with a semi-oval for the last section and a normal layout for the rest of it. Not quite old Monza but in the spirit of it.
    – What about adding a NASCAR/IRL round to it that acts as a support race for F1? Or even the other way around!

    1. An Indy support race the same weekend is an amazing idea.

    2. It’s high time they did something different with circuit design.

      It’s not like there are any American series that require an F1-specification venue – IndyCar can happily race on tracks like Mid-Ohio which F1 wouldn’t touch, and NASCAR seldom gets off ovals.

      So why not build a new high-speed course for F1 – if not actually an oval then not far short of one, with just straights and fast, wide bends. Where slipstreaming is more important than “slow in, fast out”.

      Ah, I’m dreaming. But if Herman Tilke gets out his cookie cutter and stamps his usual mix of straights and slow bends in some obscure corner of Austin, it’ll be a missed opportunity.

      1. Bartholomew
        25th May 2010, 21:53

        I like this idea. An oval could be a part of a high-speed layout, a new “Monza of the Lone Star State”.
        A high speed race with good helicopter filming

        Tilke VERBOTEN ! ( that means FORBIDDEN )

      2. This. I think that a track in the style of the old Buenos Aires track or the Hermanos Rodriguez track in Mexico – a very fast semi-banked corner at one side of the track, and a decent flowing section on the other side, would be a great idea and would give the American race its own unique character.

    3. Pengo (Blake Merriam)
      25th May 2010, 20:37

      Oooooohh. A NASCAR/IRL support race is a GREAT idea. Watching the NASCAR “buses” navigate around the road track then watching the F1 cars carve it up!

      1. @Icthyes, sorry, Sepang carbon copy? Of what?

        Otherwise hell to the yeah, Please a low downforcer, if not, something fast with overtaking spots, WE ALL KNOW IT’S POSSIBLE.

  9. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I need to see the money first. Where is it coming from? It takes an enormous amount of cash to build something like this. Donnington signed an agreement too, and we know how that turned out.

    1. yeah this does seem to be something we’ve missed in the excitement. Whose financing this? Where the billions comming from, an will their be protests an the like.

      An how are they going to build something that big in time?

      More importantly whose designing the track an does he understand the principles of corner wakes effecting draft to pass, as well as braking zones required for said passing.

  10. In the last years all the new races were at places where not many people care about f1: China, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Turkey… After Valencia it’s good to see another track where there are actually gonna be some spectators there.

  11. Austin is a great city. The Austin-San Antonio region is growing fast. Huge university which hosts 90000 fan football games seven times a year. Dallas and Houston are just a few hour drive away. 6th Street is awesome if you like to party or lusten to live music. Beautiful Lake Travis a few minutes away. It will be a lovely place to host a race.

  12. I wonder what if instead of this new track, the race was awarded to Laguna Seca. That would be awesome!

  13. HopefulState
    25th May 2010, 20:18

    Would be interesting to see where they build it. Two years is a short time to build a track from scratch if it hasn’t even been designed yet. The only existing track I know of in Austin is Driveway Austin, and that’s more of an driving school than a track, could they expand that?

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      25th May 2010, 21:11

      Is that the one on Delwau Lane, just north of the airport?

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      25th May 2010, 21:11

      Is that the one on Delwau Lane, just north of the airport?

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        25th May 2010, 21:16

        Sorry for the duplicate. Not sure what happened there.

        1. HBG, is that Lennin in your Gravatar?

          1. HounslowBusGarage
            26th May 2010, 8:28

            The very same. Apparently I look like him.

      2. HopefulState
        25th May 2010, 23:55

        Yeah, there also used to be a drag strip/road course up in Round Rock just south of the La Frontera shopping center, out where they shot the Chainsaw Massacre.

  14. We need to get away from keep building new tracks all the time, they just have no character. If I was in charge of F1 I would be looking to put together as diverse a schedule as I could. I would love to see an F1 race on the runways and taxiways of an airport for instance. As for Texas there is a street track that from what I remember in the ChampCar days was pretty wide and could offer a good trial for f1 in the area without committing to the cost of a all new facility.

    1. HopefulState
      25th May 2010, 20:48

      The track the ChampCar used was in Houston at the next to the Astrodome. There’s talk of it coming back for the IRL 2011 season, I wouldn’t mind it if Austin stole the race from them.

    2. I agree, it seems very odd to build a new, purpose-built track in a country with plenty of motorsports heritage. It makes sense to hire Tilke for places like Bahrain, but building a new one in the US just baffles me.

  15. Hair E Ball Ox
    25th May 2010, 20:50

    Well I for one think this is a great idea and dont understand all the ‘nay-sayers’.

    This has all the potential to really bring back F1, in the US, to its former glory days of the past.

    Being held in Austin isnt such a bad idea…..

    It’s in a part of the country that is race savy. Yes, its admiditly NARSCAR, but if it’s done right it could really make F1 take off in the US.

    Also, it has a race savy promoter and the locals & officials seem to be behind it rather than against it, al la New Jersey.

    I think this could really be the make or brake point for F1 in the US. They’re working with a blank canvas rather than working within the confines of an existing track. So Im going to remain fully optimistic that this will work.

    1. Indy had had NASCAR racing there for 6 years already when F1 showed up. Not to mention, they had 90 years or so of Indy Car racing history which is much closer to F1. I fail to see how Texas would be more race savvy…

      1. Hair E Ball Ox
        25th May 2010, 23:11

        Who said it was ‘more’ race savvy?

        Indy was wrong frm the start and then we had back to back fiascos with Michelin & then Schumacker letting Rubens pass at the line.

        Here they have an oppertunity to build the entire footprint as they want without having to work within the confines of an existing infrastructure.

        My point is, starting from scratch within an area where the local and state government are behind it, a long term commitment and existing race fans is a great place to start.

        It’s hard to argue that Indy had any of those factors, save for the fans.

        Bottom line is where, exactly, in the US, could you build a track that has all those factors as a starting off point?

        I think Austin should be commended for going after it. And instead of being negative, im trying to hope that this works out. At minimum it has great potential.

  16. If Bernie is steering away from Indianapolis trying to find the “right people,” I’m not sure what he expects to find in Texas. It’s no less a beer-and-hotdog place than Indy was.

    1. As a resident of Texas, I’m offended by that remark. We do not eat hotdogs around here…

      1. beer-and-rattlesnakes?

        1. Bartholomew
          25th May 2010, 21:55

          The “right people” for Bernie are those that put money in his pocket

          1. very true.

            And making this comment longer with needless filler so it will post.

  17. As an Austin resident and F1 fanatic since 1976 – this announcement just made my day, heck it made my week, month, and probably year too.

    A friend of mine suggested that I must have been wishing on a star, but to be honest I never in my wildest dreams expected this announcement. I would have been happy with NYC or a return to Indy (an event I loved going to.)

    I’m an ex-pat Brit who has been lucky enough to see F1 at Brands, Silverstone, and Spa as well as at Indy. I was also lucky enough to do some work around the fringes of the F1 scene in the past with McLaren and Lotus plus worked with James Allen on his biography of Mansell several years back. I thought my F1 days were restricted to watching it on SPEED and listening to the wonderful commentary of Varsha, Hobbs & Matchett. But it seems no more.

    As for Austin’s credentials? As a couple of previous posters pointed out, Austin is not stereotypical Texas. It’s a highly liberal city with a strong artistic and creative community (one of the reasons I came here) with more music, artists and writers per block than anywhere else I’ve seen. It also has a thriving movie industry and is one of the most innovative IT centers in the US. Dell is based here and most of the US video-gaming industry. The second larges Apple campus is here and Facebook and Google have just opened offices here. Yes some of us do wear cowboy boots and drive big trucks but there isn’t any tumble weed. Austin is in fact on the edge of the Texas Hill Country which has some of the best driving roads in the US.

    On the face of it Austin doesn’t have much of a car culture – but we have a small paved oval track south of town and a private road race track which is well used. Until recently we used to have a world class kart track at the airport too.

    Welcoming F1 to Austin is an awesome opportunity for both the city to show the rest of the world what it has to offer, and for F1 to win a whole new legion of supporters.

    Austin is unique, and F1 has another special place to visit on its calendar.

    Looking forward to 2012.

    1. Congrats and kudos on the enlightenment. As a resident of the midwest, I can understand people expecting stereotypes. Still, I’ll have to wait and see how this plays out over the years. I’ll be impressed if they keep fans coming back and I’m sure I’m gonna try and get out there to see my first Grand Prix.

      Another thing I’m curious about… if they race in Texas, surely they won’t make the same mistake as ’84 and run it in the damn summer? I’m assuming it’ll be at the start or end of the season.

      1. You are right about the scheduling concern – You don’t want to be be hanging out in Austin in July and August if you aren’t used to 100 degrees F plus temps.

        Austin is just a few hours away from two of the biggest cities in the US Houston and Dallas, and San Antonio (another fast growing area) is only an hour south – it has a large potential catchment area. The city is also used to attracting people, and growing, major events like the South By Southwest media and tech show and the Austin City Limits music festival.

    2. GrumpyATX'n
      27th May 2010, 14:44

      “Spot On” Mr. Porter.. I’m a native Austinite and was stunned by the news. So points that may help those unfamiliar with Austin..

      F1 Politics aside, there are some factors that allow Austin to stand on it’s own merits.

      – Austin hosts one of the worlds largest combined music/multimedia/film festival every year. (During that same week in March we also host a major Rodeo, and two large regional sporting events). In June, we host one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the US. We are used to huge crowds descending on our city. Come, visit, have fund, spend money. JUST DON’T MOVE HERE!

      – As one article pointed out, The DFW, Houston and San Antonio population centers are less than 3 hrs by car. Many millions to draw from.

      – The State of Texas has a huge fund for such events and is providing $25million for this project and $27million for next years Super Bowl in Dallas. This wasn’t just the city, but the entire State, Governor and State Comptroller. We are coming up on a gubernatorial election so the sitting Governor is looking to build political capital with just such announcements.

      – As mentioned Austin has weathered the economic downturn very well. An article on Yahoo just yesterday noted we are the number one Real Estate market in the US. (Groan..)

      – Many celebrities “live” in Austin. By “live” I mean own a home and list it as their primary residence as to avoid state income taxes in California, New York, etc.. In fact race car legend AJ Foyt got into trouble here in Travis county because he claimed his lake house as primary residence to enjoy the “homestead exemption” on the local property taxes… The media reported that he only visited the property infrequently which would make it debatable as to whether or not he actually “resided” there…. Lots of people with lots of money have Austin on their radar.

      So in short, Austin was a hidden gem that people with money have already started to… (trying not to use ‘exploit’ here..)

      So, come.. Have fun, spend lots of money.. I’ll probably be in the stands next to you.. JUST DON”T MOVE HERE..

  18. Texas??? What the heck be a formula one Billy Bob? we likeee them Nassscarr down here.
    Austin is an OK city, I just can’t picture Austin, by itself, filling up a racetrack.
    You can bring F1 to a redneck but a redneck will never go to a F1. Too much cow dung in them boots to go to a F1.

    What a hoot..

  19. I’m not getting my hopes up, afterall the last time an F1 project happened in the USA it was a huge disaster. I am of course talking about the failed entry of USF1, the new national team for the Americans to back. Similarly the project got the go ahead from the F1 bosses, and similarly it was a start from scratch high risk programme. Surely if this is going to work in the Western World it will work in the USA, afterall it has the world’s best economy, but as was proven with the USF1 disaster this is not the case – they could not get the financial backing and had to fold before they got going due to a lack of sponsorship. Why should this new track be any differant, there is just a thought at the back of my mind that this isn’t going to happen. I hope I am proven wrong because if this fails it is the final mail in the coffin for F1 in the US

  20. Let’s hope that by “with Austin as the backdrop” they don’t mean, built in a dirt field 100 miles away in the middle of nowhere at the end of a two-lane highway. Texas has a lot of nowhere in which to precisely site an F1 track, so be afraid of an “Istanbul” situation.

    If it is close to Austin, it is an inspired choice. Austin hosts many large annual festivals, including in information tech and web industries, it has a major music scene. It accordingly has decent hotels and nightlife. And its becoming rapidly overrun with wealthy coastal people looking for brand new mid-century modernist houses, indepedent coffee houses, and who prefer not to run into gun-toting conservative Texans on the run down to Whole Foods in their Audis. And there is a large and highly rated university there, which keeps the cultural tone fresh. (It’s good even though it is “public,” which term is normally a mark of failure and shame in this country in any context.) This concludes my wikipedia draft on Austin, TX.

    1. As someone else mentioned the promotors mentioned in the press release have some connection with Thunderhill Raceway, a small paved oval track which is located in Kyle about 20 minutes drive south of Austin. There’s a lot of undeveloped land in that area.

      I wonder…

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