Posted on September 19 2016
Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX is one of the newest and most impressive road courses in the country. Having just opened its gates in October of 2012, Circuit of the Americas was built with the goal of not just being a world-class racing facility, but becoming the new home of the US Formula 1 Grand Prix. The courses birth, however, was far from smooth sailing.
Announced by promoter Tavo Hellmund in 2010 and built with investment from Texas billionaire Red McCombs and Bobby Epstein, the facility was conceived from the beginning with F1 in mind. And indeed, a deal was struck right off the bat with Formula One Management for a US Grand Prix starting in 2012. Funding issues and management disagreements, however, resulted in payments to Formula One being missed, and the future home of the US Grand Prix almost fell apart. McCombs and Epstein were able to strike a new deal separate from Hellmund (who ended up receiving a settlement after legal action was threatened), and COTA’s construction was back on track.
On October 21st, 2012, Circuit of the Americas officially opened to the public with an inaugural lap by Mario Andretti in a Lotus 79. The following month, the first US F1 Grand Prix since 2007 was held there.
The track itself features some unique and challenging features which have received praise from drivers and spectators alike. The original design was created by Hellmund, 1993 Motorcycle World Champion Kevin Schwantz and German F1 circuit designer, Hermann Tilke. It features wide turns, a 133ft elevation gain that follows the contours of the hills, and sections inspired by Silverstone's Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex, Hockenheim, and Istanbul Park's Turn Eight.
The facility is also home to a 251ft observation tower, and to the Austin360 Amphitheater, a major outdoor concert venue that has hosted such musical acts as Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, KISS, Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Kenny Chesney, Drake, Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson (and on Oct 22, Taylor Swift).
Circuit of the Americas will also host the next round of the Radical Cup North America Championship, September 23rd through 25th, where Team Stradale will look to continue and build on their recent strong showing at the Radical Canada Festival.