March 29, 2017 / 3:04 PM / 10 months ago

Motor racing-Timberlake follows Swift as F1 Austin crowd-puller

LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) - Singer Justin Timberlake has been confirmed as the headline act for this year’s U.S. Formula One Grand Prix at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in October.

Last year’s event ended a run of disappointing attendances for the race by pulling in a record crowd of 269,000, partly down to singer Taylor Swift’s appearance drawing 80,000 fans.

Race organisers are hopeful the appearance of multiple-Grammy winner Timberlake after qualifying on Oct. 21 will build on that success.

”Last year did what we hoped it would do, which is not only enhance an already great event but also give us the chance to expose a lot of new people to the sport,“ COTA chairman Bobby Epstein told Reuters. ”And it worked.

“I think where we saw a big change was in the average number of tickets sold per transaction, which told me that families were buying. And so I think we’ll see that continue.”

The 2017 F1 season, which began in Melbourne last weekend, is the first with the sport being run by American company Liberty Media, after they bought it from Bernie Ecclestone in January this year.

F1 has long struggled to get a foothold in the American market, so hopes are high that Timberlake’s performance can build on last year’s successful race weekend.

The 2015 race suffered financially after the weekend was significantly disrupted by torrential rain.

As a result, COTA have said they would refund 105 percent of the value of any three-day reserved seat ticket purchased by July 4 if more than two inches of rain falls in the 24-hour period before the start of the race.

In addition, the ticket would still be good for the race. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Julian Shea)

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