| LONDON, July 9
LONDON, July 9 Organisers of Formula One's
newest grand prix in Austin, Texas, say tickets for the November
18 race are selling strongly with construction solidly on
Speaking to Reuters during a fact-finding visit to the
British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Circuit of the Americas
president Steve Sexton said F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the
governing FIA were pleased with progress.
The race will be the first U.S. Grand Prix since
Indianapolis in 2007. Another in New Jersey, against a backdrop
of New York's Manhattan skyline, is due to be held in 2013.
"We're in the time of year now where we've a lot of daylight
and no rain, and so we're making more progress than we even
thought we'd make," said Sexton, happy not to have Silverstone's
problems with rain and waterlogged car parks.
"We're on schedule to be complete. (FIA race director)
Charlie Whiting was at our site two or three weeks ago and took
a look at it and said we're doing fantastic. He was very
Sexton said tickets had been on sale for a month already and
were "going strong" with out-of-state visitors accounting for a
majority of the "thousands and thousands" sold so far.
The race has been positioned from the outset to bring
tourists to Texas.
Formula One's last two new circuits, in India and South
Korea, were both barely ready by the race weekend with
organisers racing against time to lay track surfaces and
Sexton assured teams and fans that would not be the case
"We anticipate there will be small-scale last-minute
details," he said. "We don't anticipate any large last-minute
approval that will be necessary."
The first layer of asphalt will have been laid around the
whole circuit within the next week, drainage is being laid in at
least half the track and roads are being cut in. Temporary
seating will start going up in August.
Interior work to circuit facilities is under way and catch
fences being put up.
Sexton said the Austin organisers met periodically with
Ecclestone to discuss progress and ensure everything was up to
the Briton's expectations.
"He seems happy at the moment but there's nothing the matter
with high standards," he added. "He drives a hard bargain but
with the same token he has a great respect for the people that
he works with and thus the venues have a great respect for him."
Making a profit from the race might be harder, with
Ecclestone's fees running to tens of millions of dollars
elsewhere, but Sexton said Formula One was only part of the
"The business plan was not built entirely on Formula One
profit. It was built on the profit of a year round operation
with four to five major motorsport events, and Formula One being
the signature event," he explained.
There would also be music festivals, with a 17,000 person
amphitheatre on site and a major music partner to be announced
in the next month, and other sporting events as well as driving
club activity and product launches.
While NASCAR is not on the radar, there have been
discussions with IndyCar and others.
"Almost... every other major motorsports series has
approached us to talk about racing because of where we are
located. Texas is a big state, very attractive, 20 million
people within 250 miles," said Sexton.
"It's not just a flat circuit it has some unique attributes
to it, topography that is very appealing from a driver and a fan
perspective because you can see multiple turns from a lot of the
views on the east side of the facility."
(Editing by Alison Wildey)