Home » United States F1 Grand Prix: Memories & The Kangaroo Burger @ Wild Bubbas

United States F1 Grand Prix: Memories & The Kangaroo Burger @ Wild Bubbas

by DrivingEnthusiast

Every great racetrack has a place nearby which fans and visitors will flock to and remember. It’s usually a restaurant, and always owned and run by a true racing enthusiast. Without fail you’ll find a special area set aside inside as a “shrine” to the automobile racing history of the area with a collection of souvenirs, photos, small gifts from the drivers and teams, and posters and banners from events. This is the type of place which, no matter how far away you are or how many years have passed, you will always fondly remember.

One such place for me from the early days of my start in this hobby is the Seneca Lodge at Watkins Glen State Park, near the famous Watkins Glen International track, where memorabilia from 60 years of racing history can be found. Watkins Glen was the original home of Formula 1 racing in the United States, where it thrived for a time but couldn’t survive. The track has survived, is healthy, and is heavily booked with a variety of professional and amateur events. I’ve driven the track in amateur events, and also worked several professional events when I lived in the area. My last time on track was in 1993, but I remember every inch of every turn as well as the fabulous view from the top of the hill out across Seneca Lake.

Formula 1 outgrew Watkins Glen, and then faltered in the United States from mis-management, inexperience, and lack of a consistent and appropriate location as other venues and management organizations were tried. I attended the second-last event at Indianapolis, and while you might assume the historical aspects of the track would make for a successful event, the event was doomed for all the same reasons and from a lack of professional promotion. And the last event was an absolute fiasco.

Now everything changes, and this time it is being done right with a purpose-built track under construction outside of Austin Texas USA. The Circuit of the Americas is being built and run by a team who understands Formula 1 and who has experience running world-class events of this type. Non-stop construction on the new Formula 1 racetrack is well underway in Elroy Texas USA (or “Speed City” as it has become known). Located 12 miles south of Austin Texas, Elroy will soon be the top motorsport destination in North America with an annual F1 race, manufacturer testing, other professional racing events, and perhaps even amateur events such as SCCA racing. And, if we’re very lucky, an HPDE organization for the rest of us. Yes, in 2013, we just might be able to drive this track!

The first event is a year away, but a shrine to the track already exists and fans are flocking to see it and contribute. Owner Wyman “Wild Bubba” Gilliam has put together an impressive display in his Wild Bubbas Wild Game Grill with 4 walls dedicated to Formula 1 memorabilia. Wild Bubbas is already a well-earned favorite of Central Texans and has now become a home for motorsports enthusiasts as well.

Yesterday I drove to the track to get an update on it’s progress. In this image, we’re standing near what will one day be a vendor area, looking out past where the main grandstands will be located, with turn 20 off-image to the far left, and turn 1 on the right. On the horizon is a large hill, which will be turns 19 and 2. All of the other turns are beyond that hill and are not visible from this location. This type of elevation change is just one reason why this will be great track.

F1 Track Construction 2011.03.19

While standing at this location looking over the construction, we came across some F1 fans from Albany New York, who had driven down to check out the track and about to leave to make their hotel reservations for the race next year. An unbelievable coincidence, and a great chance to catch up on our shared favorite Watkins Glen and their experiences at all the original events there. Our next stop was at Wild Bubbas to attend the Austin F1 Meet and Great group lunch and to talk shop and catch up on construction news. As always, the food was great: instead of my usual alligator, elk, or antelope, I had the Kangaroo burger. Yes, you read that right, and “Skippy” was exceptionally lean and great tasting.

Here’s the first wall of the shrine at Bubbas. Pictures include one of the many visits of Tavo Hellmund, as well as one taken by some local F1 fans who attended the inaugural F1 event in Shanghai.

 Wild Bubbas - F1 Shrine wall #1

So one year to go until >120,000 F1 fans from around the world fly into Austin to see the rebirth of F1 racing in the United States. A world-class event in a world-class city, and we’ll be there to see it in person.

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