2012 Formula 1 USGP in Austin – Finally Here!

2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix - Returns to USA in Austin, Texas!

It’s here & happening now:

Formula 1 Returns to USA in 2012

2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix!

For the latest information to keep up to date, click Calendars link below:

Austin Events Calendars for 2012 Formula 1 USGP Racing

To learn what it took to get here, I offer the following review…

The Formula 1 spectacle has arrived back in the USA.  Round 19 of the 2012 F1 season takes place just a few miles south of the Austin, Texas airport.  The formation & creation of the Circuit of The Americas (aka, CoTA), has been a long time in coming.  We at Racing Ready, & many others, have known about it for 2 & 1/2 years.  But the initial gestation period started much longer ago, thanks to Tavo Hellmund.  Today, you no longer see his name officially associated with CoTA.  But the idea & desire behind it all started with Tavo.

Circuit of The Americas - Home of The World Championships

Starting in May 2010, the public was made aware.  The concept of a Formula 1-spec track was proposed to be built in southeast Travis County, where Austin, the Capital of Texas is situated.  Things started to move quickly, but not exactly smoothly:

Here’s what Jenson Button, F1 driver on Team McLaren, said in expectation:

You can see elements of the Maggotts/Becketts complex from Silverstone; there’s a reverse of Istanbul Park’s Turn Eight, too; and I can even see a bit of the Hockenheim infield.

I think we’re in for a fantastic weekend – I really cannot wait to get out to Austin and see the city, the people and the track. I think it’s going to be brilliant.

See these 2 track comparison illustrations for you to appreciate:

Circuit of The Amrericas track layout comparison - showing 'Maggots & Becketts' detail

&

Circuit of The Americas track layout comparison - Hockenheim 'Stadium Section'

This is a historic event in American Motorsports.  Much will continue to be written, but now enjoy the racing.  To all visitors, both here at Racing Ready & in Austin, Texas, we are SO pleased you took the time to visit.  We look forward to your return.

AUSTIN - Texas Charm, Global Appeal

GO RACE & THANK YOU!

Dan

P.S. – For in-depth reading, off track, review this: F1 Racing Grand Prix Fan Guide.  Be advised, it’s 109 pages (!), Courtesy of the Austin America-Statesman.

Circuit of The Americas, a sunset in anticipation of Formula 1 racing success!

Autocrosser Forced Ride Change: Not By Choice

We have not heard from fellow autocrosser & esteemed Contributing Editor Eric for a spell.  Well, a couple of months ago, upon his return from an autocross event, his trusty steed Sunshine took a turn for the worse.  I will let Eric explain:

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, so I felt I should go back a couple months to September’s Spokes event at San Antonio Raceway, and what would turn out to be my last competitive event with Sunshine, my yellow C5 Z06 Corvette.  As you can tell by the pictures, it was a typical Spokes watercross, but still some 82 participants braved the rain.

Spokes wet 'Watercross' at San Antonio Raceway - staging on the grid - SEP 2012

As you can tell from the picture, at the beginning of the event, the rain was light, and remained that way throughout the first heat.  However, as the day wore on, it began to pick up until it was difficult to remain outside of the car between heats.  I lucked out that my work assignment was inside the trailer doing registration, and I can only imagine what it was like for the corner workers.

Eric's Sunshine's last autocross - Spokes SEP 2012, at San Antonio Raceway

Once again, Super Stock was made up of me, and Ray and his son Peter in Ray’s grey Lotus Elise.  The increasing rain made for some interesting challenges, including deep puddles that would send geysers of water over the hood and windshield of the car, making it almost impossible to know where you were going unless you looked far enough ahead in advance.  Unfortunately, my GoPro battery had died and thus I was unable to record any of my runs, and I left my spare at home.

Spokes wet 'Watercross' - not ideal weather, but makes you learn faster to drive well, or not!

Peter complained too that his Lotus, which was running Toyo R888s, was pushing badly, while I felt the Corvette’s balance, on fresh Nitto NT555R2s, was spot on.  In the end, it showed in the results.  I managed to pull a 56.20 on my third run, edging Peter’s 56.44 on what seemed to be a Lotus beneficial course.

All was fine until, during my drive home, the unthinkable happened.  The car snapped sideways for no reason while I was driving 60mph in a straight line on the highway, with all traction aids on.  The result was this:

Eric's Sunshine meets its final fate...

Fortunately, a number of my SASCA brothers and sisters stopped by to make sure I was still in one piece, and one of them, John T, let me sit in his car for an hour while we waited for a tow truck.  For that, and not minding the pieces of glass raining off me and onto his seats and carpet, I will be forever in his debt.

The insurance company decided, with every body panel and every window blown out of the car, and a big dent punched into the bottom of the frame from the wire barrier, that the car was a total loss.

Out a ride and with check in hand, I began searching for another autocross car.  Several I examined, including the GT-R and C6 Z06, would be expensive to buy and expensive to prepare, while several others, like the 996 chassis 911 Carrera, had the potential to become money pits.  Much as I loved her, after 7 years I didn’t want another C5, which brought me to a local Ford dealership, where I found myself behind the wheel of a steed similar to the one pictured below.

Candy Red Mustang 5.0 teaser ad

One test drive, which left salesperson Lee a little white faced, convinced me that the new Mustang was an improvement over the ponies of yore.  The Coyote 5.0 was powerful, flexible and responsive, while the chassis was very well balanced up to and beyond its limits.  The suspension was a little soft but I figured shocks would fix it, so I went trolling for quotes on the Internet and received the best one from Ted at Mac Haik Ford in Georgetown, Texas, who was able to sell me a custom ordered GT for just $600 over invoice.

Eric's new Ford Mustang 5.0, & the last you'll see of the Mac Haik name...

This past Friday, I took delivery!  Of course, because every day with Jay is an adventure, while giving me a ride to the dealership in his new C6, this happened…..

Dealer bound for Eric's new Ford Mustang 5.0, former class competitor Jay has to change a tire

…..but by leaving his Corvette by the side of the road and going back for it later, we made it to the dealership on time.

The Mustang is a Gotta Have It Green base model with tech package, 6-speed manual, Recaro seats and the track package that my wife’s nicknamed “Froggy.”  Some pics are below.

Eric's new Ford Mustang 5.0, in all its green Froggy glory

Eric's new Ford Mustang 5.0, here's the heart of the matter!

Just so she has some grip, my buddies at Discount Tire on 281 mounted up a set of Hoosier A6s on a second set of Ford Racing black Brembo package wheels.  At over 30lb each, the wheels are on the heavy side, and will likely become street wheels while I source more lightweight competition shoes.

Mods so far are limited to the wheels and tires, and a replacement of the stock brake fluid with some ATE Super Blue.  The car’s stock mufflers are quiet and heavy, so I ordered an MBRP Pro-Series axle back exhaust from Dan B. at AmericanMuscle.com, which should be worth about 5hp.  I can’t speak enough about his customer service, so if you need anything for your late model Mustang I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them!  Some stock-legal Ford camber bolts are also in the works, though they may not be installed until the shocks are replaced.

Her debut event will be this coming Sunday’s (11-NOV-2012) SASCA autocross, I’ll let you know how we do!

Well, Eric’s debut was actually yesterday & so we will have to wait & see how Froggy behaved.  It looks to me that he was in a class of his own; there was no one else in his FS (F Stock) class.  🙁  On the bright side, Eric was able to PAX in 8th out of 104 entries (with only 1 cone).  I’m impressed!  But oh well, Racing Ready anticipates good things for Eric’s new ride!

Dan

CoTA Formula Run: Dramatic Track Revelation!

How can it be said any more enthusiastically…?

WOW !

I was finally able to set foot on the Circuit of The Americas, 3.4 mile, 20 corners, 133 feet of elevation change track today!  I participated, along with around 5000 (!) other runners/race fans from the Austin, Texas area, in CoTA’s first race, albeit human-powered: the Inaugural 2012 Formula Run.

2012 Formula Run Start-Finish banner at CoTA

Yesterday I got up extra early & left my home to travel 90 miles to reach CoTA.  But, upon almost arriving, I was faced with a traffic jam that Elroy, TX has NEVER seen the likes of! It took me about 20 minutes to creep the last 2 miles of my trip down highway FM812, to reach Circuit of The Americas Boulevard. Once onsite, I was able to get my run registration pack (my T-shirt & racing ID #).

2012 Formula Run T-shirt content

An unseasonably rare occurrence of thick early morning fog had slowed everything down.  That was the explanation for the traffic & subsequent starting delay to the 5K run.  Standing among the mass of humanity on the front straight, one could barely see the signature Turn 1, up in the mist… (Click on all theses pix to enlarge; you’ll better enjoy their full scope!)

On the CoTA front straight (can't see Turn 1), at the foggy start of the 2012 Formula Run

CoTA front straight grandstands, shrodded in the foggy mist start of the 2012 Formula Run

I was able to reach a few fellow race fans by phone, at the track, but there were too many people gathered there to actually find them.  I finally did meet up with SAF1C fan James Street.  He was a great walking companion to enjoy exploring the circuit with.  His wife Susan was able to witness me being there with her camera.

Racing Ready Dan at 2012 Formula Run at CoTA, just prior to the start! (Courtesy of Susan Street)

The race started about 8:35am & I never saw such a unified mass movement of humankind – over 5000 people starting a 5K run/walk, making racing history at CoTA.

Mass quantities of humankind (at least 5000) at the start of the 2012 Formula Run at Circuit of The Americas - it was SO foggy!

Mass quantities of humankind (at least 5000) starting the 2012 Formula Run at Circuit of The Americas - it was SO foggy!

After almost 2 years of reading peoples’ impressions, seeing track construction progress picture taken, reviewing the variety of uploaded video snippets & even trying some of the track racing simulations;  none of these were sufficient to prepare me for the actual surreal experience of seeing/feeling the extreme rise,  fall & dramatic flow of the specially prepared CoTA asphalt surface & track direction.  Turn 1 is SUCH a dramatic rise & direction change!  And then, it’s almost 180 degree hairpin transformation has it fall back down the hill to challenge future drivers in a series of curves, switchbacks & chicanes.

At CoTA Turn 1 seeing fellow 2012 Formula Run participants marvel at how the laws of racing physics will be turned!

2012 Formula Run at CoTA, the 5K runners were SO amazed, they had to stop & gawk at the wonder of Turn 1...!

Accelerating downward slope, heading towards CoTA Turn 2, at 2012 Formula Run...

CoTA has 2 sections of turns sections that are not unlike those of Silverstone & Hockenheim.  Actually being there, on the track, was the culmination of all my anticipation.  Words will continue to escape me as to the drama this track provides, even while just strolling on it.

So, I will stop the blathering & show you some of the break-taking CoTA track images I was able to capture, as it emerged from the unexpected fog banks…

2012 Formula Run at CoTA, Turns 7 & 8...

2012 Formula Run at CoTA, looking back from Turn 8 to 7...

2012 Formula Run at CoTA, viewing the apex of Turn 11...

James Street at the apex of CoTA Turn 11, participating in the 2012 Formula Run!

2012 Formula Run at CoTA, Turns 12, 13, 14 & 15 with grandstands all around...

2012 Formula Run at CoTA, looking at Turn 18 from 19, with Turn 1 in the distance...

2012 Formula Run at CoTA, Pit In just before Turn 20...

2012 Formula Run at CoTA, front straight from Turn 20, viewing Pits-Paddock & Main Grandstands...

CoTA starting box start-finish view on the front straight (the Charlie Whiting view, at the 2012 Formula Run)

Racing Ready was SO very pleased to be a part of CoTA’s initial history, this weekend.  All the participants’ comments I overheard were very positive (except for the traffic jam, of course).  I’m sure there were some lessons learned this morning & some traffic movement protocols are being considered for modification & hopeful improvement this coming week.

Dan