Formula 1 Austin Grand Prix organizers unveiled designs for a 3.4 mile track Wednesday, confirming at the same time its location on a 900-acre site in southeast Austin.
Full Throttle Productions LP Managing Partner Tavo Hellmund in May announced intentions to host the race in Austin for nine years beginning in 2012. And in July, he revealed Texas business mogul Red McCombs was backing the plan as a major investor. The team had narrowed the site down to a plot previously slated for a housing development in Elroy, but said at the time it was still exploring other options.
Officials said in a press release this morning the location affords a natural landscape, varying elevations and a view of the downtown skyline. Race organizers have said the track will cost about $200 million, but have not estimated a cost for the surrounding facilities.
“In the modern era of Grand Prix racing, I think this track layout and topography will be very special,” said Hellmund, who is also chairman for the Formula 1 Austin plan.
He said the design is likened to ‘classic’ circuits of the 1960’s era, with a combination of 20 fast and technical turns and elevation changes of 133 feet. Details on the master plan and spectator facilities will be revealed at a later date, according to the release. The track venue would accommodate about 140,000 people.
Some have questioned the F1 planners’ short construction time line with necessary planning approvals still needed, including building a water pipe to the site. The city certified Lewis Contractors as the lowest bidder to install the pipeline on the same day F1 race organizers picked the location as its likely choice. But one city staffers then said the approval only applied to previous plans for a housing development.
Lewis was slated to begin the $2.6 million tax-payer funded project in October and finish in February 2011, but city staff could not immediately confirm if that plan was still in affect. Lewis Contractors Inc. Principal Ronnie Lewis said in a previous interview he has no indication the contract execution is on hold.
Hellmund has at least twice said his site had water and wastewater permitting, according to reports. A spokesman was not immediately available to answer whether F1 planners will resubmit.
Road access has also been cited as a concern. F1 spokespeople did not confirm race organizers’ intention to pay for improvements or comment on traffic concerns. A study will be performed and once they have results, race organizers “will be sitting down with appropriate agencies to address the results,” F1 lawyer Richard Suttle said.
A start date for such a study has not been set, Suttle said. Read more: F1 Austin track map, site revealed – Austin Business Journal