The Drivers Edge (TDE) hosted the first-ever High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE) event at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) Formula 1 racetrack this weekend. 140 drivers and 45 instructors spread across 5 separate run groups (by skill and experience level) greatly enjoyed their 2 days on the circuit.
Needless to say, being on the finest racetrack anywhere in the Americas made for a fabulous and unforgettable weekend. The event was simply excellent: TDE did a thoroughly professional job of running the event (as always) and COTA was simply a fantastic host. We were surprised and impressed by the sheer number of COTA personnel on hand for the event. This included the entire track safety crew; fully staffed track control center; fire, ambulance crews and wreckers (unneeded); flaggers, security; gate management; and even a large staff of restaurant and concession workers. These were the same people who had pulled off the tremendously successful Formula 1 event here last November… and we benefitted from the same level of service and support this weekend. Our only disappointment (besides a dud Go Pro) was that track Ambassador Mario Andretti wasn’t present!
As the following TV news report discusses, the event almost wasn’t able to be held. But the reason wasn’t a mysterious drama as the news reports imply, it was simply the unfamiliar track officials negotiating an event that fit into their technical, safety and procedural requirements, as well as their own business plan. And coming to understand how such events are run. The Drivers Edge is the best group we’ve ever seen in our 33 years of doing this type of event, and we’re proud to be an Instructor with them over the past 15 years. And now that COTA officials and owners have seen how professional and experienced this particular group is, we should be invited back again.
Coverage from our local TV station KXAN is here: http://www.kxan.com//dpp/news/local/austin/kxan-amateurs-test-drive-on-cota-track-ig, including the following video:
We’d guess whomever wrote this TV report wasn’t a driving enthusiast or even knowledgeable about these types of events. We’d hardly call ourselves “amateurs”: most of the drivers have been doing this for many years and many the instructors are professional race car drivers or at the very least have several years of experience doing just this as well as a demonstrated ability to teach and an exacting knowledge of the dynamics of car control at speed. HPDE events are non-competitive and are not timed: the sole purpose is skill building.
The Drivers Edge was privileged to be able to use the full 3.41 mile track, with designated (and generous) passing zones. As in our original prediction for the Formula 1 race, we expected the 130 foot climb into turn 1 to be the biggest challenge… but it wasn’t in F1 and it wasn’t here either. It is a signature turn of the track, very distinction and great fun. As is, for example, the run up the much bigger hill at Watkins Glen. But there is so much more and that’s what makes this (and the Glen) such a fabulous track. COTA is clearly world-class in every respect.
Turns 3-5 were straightforward, but the decreasing spacing from turns 5 thru 9 were challenging. The back straight between turns 11 and 12 was a straightforward <130 MPH. Turns 12 thru 17 were especially challenging (11, 12, and 15 being very sharp) and we’ll be focusing closely on those next time out. Turn 18 was obvious as soon as you saw how it exits, as were turns 19-20. Note that in the map below, the speeds given are for F1 cars – compared to what we did this weekend those much higher speeds are truly (as they say) “the laps of the gods”. It’s beyond our mortal understanding. But it does illustrate the speed differentials which we also had to learn.
We’ll post our own image gallery once we recover from the uncharacteristically (for Texas in January) cold and wet weather. Readers will undoubtedly find numerous other images from other Instructors and attendees, and should also follow the official Facebook page of The Drivers Edge.
Read more in the Austin American Statesman: http://www.statesman.com/sports/american-le-mans-series-coming-to-circuit-of-2387257.html
Spotted on route FM812 in Elroy Texas, just around the corner from our new F1 track Circuit of the Americas. No telephone number provided.
Old Corvairs are hard to find… this one looks restorable and despite apparently sitting outdoors for years, the rust doesn’t look like a major problem. At least from what we can see.
812 was once part of the Austin-Port Lavaca Stagecoach Road, but the Corvair dates to more modern times than that!
As followup to our earlier post “David Coultard hoons it up in the Red Bull F1 racecar on the streets of Austin Texas“, here is a short documentary aired by BBC this past weekend as part of their India F1 coverage. It was shot at the Circuit of the Americas and tells the story of the fan interest that is building in the Austin Texas area. We have 2 established “watch parties” in the Austin area, where fans gather to watch every race together and often number more than 100 people. And, indeed, in all of Texas, with groups in Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.
Take note in the video of Wild Bubba himself, of Wild Bubbas Wild Game Grill (offering the best wild game burgers in Texas), who has established the local “hangout” for Central Texas F1 fans in his restaurant. Where you’ll find many of the workers who are building the track gathering for lunch on weekdays, as well as a large collection of F1 memorabilia. All of the top designers and management of the track have been seen there for lunch… you never know who you’ll meet at Wild Bubbas!
Red Bull has released the video they shot in the Austin area in August, including parts filmed downtown, on a ranch south of Austin, along route 812 in Speed City, and on the Circuit of the Americas track itself. The video begins with the “red bull” escaping from a barn chased by cowboys on horseback.
The scenes of the track under construction is particularly interesting: the track itself has been dug out 6 to 8 feet below ground in preparation for laying the multiple layers of base and paving. It shows the extent to which the builders go to provide a perfect surface for racing.
And consider the cost of making this video: not only the time and materials, but the wear and tear on the car and on its engine. This is clearly a labor of love by Red Bull, David Coultard, and everyone concerned. And it’s just the first taste of what we’ll see from the return of F1 to North America.
Given all the confusion over the weekend over the Red Bull F1 car appearance and events, where the filming on Austin city streets was on, then off, then on again (but spectators were not officially allowed and found ways to show up anyway), it was tough to know what was actually happening and especially what was changing.
The only way to keep track of what is happening is thru numerous Facebook pages that are maintained by local enthusiasts. Here are the ones we’re aware of:
- Austin F1 Club
- Friends of Formula 1 Austin Texas
- The Austin Grand Prix
- Formula 1 Austin
- F1 Austin
- Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill <– the “hang-out” of F1 fans locally
- Friends of Circuit of the Americas
- Circuit of The Americas
“Like” the pages and then aggregate the information.
This is also a great way for fans out of the area or out of the country to keep track of the progress of the track.
Yes it can, and that’s exactly what happened over the weekend at, in, and around the Circuit of the Americas F1 track in Austin, Texas. The Red Bull demo car, which the previous day played hoon on the streets of downtown Austin, visited the track for a lap in the dirt surface of the construction site, then took to back roads around the track site itself. Look for Red Bull to release the full video in mid-September.
Watch, enjoy, stare in disbelief.
Construction on the Circuit of the Americas facility is progressing as planned. The facility is a several hundred million dollar project that is 100 percent privately financed.
Now, we need your help to get it over the finish line:
1) This week, the Austin City Council will begin the process of deciding if Austin will be the host community for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix race. The Council had a staff briefing at their Tuesday morning work session followed by a Thursday morning discussion and public comment period about the project.
The race will generate an estimated $300 million per-year economic impact on the local economy for 10 years. It is creating more than 1,000 construction-related jobs right now. In addition to the jobs already created, this project is attracting businesses to the area in a variety of sectors. It is also creating substantial job-training opportunities for several area schools and universities.
Opponents to Formula 1 in Austin will certainly voice their opinions against the project. That’s why we need you to voice your support for the project to the Austin City Council immediately. Please write favorable emails to the following addresses:
- the following email addresses at this domain: ci.austin.tx.us
- Chris Riley
- Mike Martinez
- Bill Spelman
2) Please consider signing the petition “Tell the Austin City Council to Vote YES on Formula 1“. Our goal is to reach 2,000 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-the-austin-city-council-to-vote-yes-on-formula-1
Please, take the time to show your support for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix project. Everyone around the world should participate.
Friends of Formula 1 Austin Texas
The announcement this past week of the June 17 2012 date for the 1st United States Grand Prix at the new Circuit of the Americas track outside Austin Texas is just one more step in the process. $450 million US Dollars have been committed to build and finish out the facility. Construction is proceeding at maximum speed. More personnel have been hired. Other events such as MotoGP have been added to the calendar and many more are in early planning stages. Formula 1 fans across the Americas and indeed the world are making hotel reservations and putting travel plans in place to be here in person for the first race.
Central Texans can hardly believe their good luck. Local enthusiasts are accelerating their appreciation for F1 and get together as a group to watch every race. The first tour of the track is being offered to fans this week. Wild Bubbas Wild Game Grill in Speed City Texas (administratively known as Elroy Texas, it is the actual home of the new track) is the defacto hangout for fans and includes a growing shrine of images, videos and memorabilia. Located in Elroy next to the track, you never know who you will sit down next to for lunch or dinner (for our most recent visit there, it was a table of Tilke engineers!!).
In appreciation, Wild Bubba’s is offering a free gathering with complementary German food and BYOB beer. This will be an absolutely unique experience, your chance to socialize with enthusiasts from all around. RSVP by email as shown in the invitation below. And if you need a hotel, choose one near the Austin Airport.
If you have a chance to regularly visit the Circuit of the Americas track as we do, you’ll notice the increased rate of construction. If not, here’s a review of what happened form March 29 to April 29.
Great video – let’s hope the organizers continue to provide updates over the next ~52 weeks. Speaking of which, the big question now is whether the 1st F1 event here will be before or after the Canadian Grand Prix in 2012. We’re hoping for before: we want the weather to be as cool as possible. The end of May would be even better, but it’s very unlikely that the Monaco organizers would agree to change their date.