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Formula One returning to America in 2012

By KBB.com Editors on June 2, 2010 2:04 PM
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Formula One has had a somewhat challenging time establishing itself in America. The last appearance of the world's most technically sophisticated race cars on U.S. soil came in 2007 at a circuit constructed inside the ground of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Starting in 2012, the reigning powers in F1 intend to stage a comeback at a new dedicated circuit outside of Austin, Texas. Blessed by a host of state and local politicians, and done in consort with Full Throttle Productions, LP, the 10-year contract for a new USGP was lauded by Bernie Ecclestone, president and CEO of the Formula One Group who stated: "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."

Few details have been released about the new Austin operation, which will be constructed on a 500-acre parcel of land near the airport and reportedly cost something on the far side of $200 million to complete. However, it has been confirmed that the circuit itself will be designed by the renowned Hermann Tilke, whose most recent efforts include F1 tracks and the associated facilities in Turkey, China and Malaysia.

It's been three decades since the last Formula One race was held on a permanent track in this country, when Alan Jones took his Williams-Ford to victory in the 1980 U.S. Grand Prix held at Watkins Glen, New York. While there's no shortage of challenges to be met -- and conquered -- before we'll see the next USGP event run at this new and still-to-be-built Austin venue, a number of the key pieces are definitely in place and there is room for optimism that the F1 faithful will get to see the green flag drop at some point in 2012 and continue on until 2021. Race promoter and head of Full Throttle Productions, LP, Tavo Hellmund says: "This is a case of the right timing in the right place. Few cities if any in America could rival the connectivity of all the key elements needed for hosting a Formula 1 event as well as Austin." Only time will tell if he's right in that assessment.

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