Saturday, July 16, 2011

The debate is over!

Well it’s been a while since the 5-2 vote by the Austin City Council to endorse the Formula 1 race here in Austin and I’m just as excited as I was that day.  I have to admit I was pretty worried.  Kathie Tovo had recently been voted in and was outspoken in her criticism of the track while Laura Morrison had seemed against it as well.  I wasn’t sure about the other votes but fear can often make things far worse than they really are.  As it turns out that frustration and worry might have been worth it after all.

The agreement reached between the City of Austin and the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) had a great deal to do with sustainability.  One of the clauses in that agreement was that COTA would must host alternative energy and energy efficient car races.  While there has been talk about developing new racing series for purely electric cars and motorcycles there is in fact a series that already fulfils this requirement - The American Le Mans Series (ALMS).  Cars in this series use a variety of fuels including: diesel, Cellulosic E85, E10, IsoButanol and  in some races a gas-electric hybrid.  Expect to see more hybrids in forthcoming seasons.  The ALMS is a series that proves the importance of racing in development of new technologies that end up in road-going cars.  I’d be shocked if they didn’t announce an ALMS race by the end of the year.

The day after the big vote was an announcement that Australian V8 Supercars would be making there way to Austin in 2013.  Part of the reason it’s exciting is that it’s a continuation of a rivalry many here in America will appreciate - Ford vs. GM.  The Holden badge that Australian GM vehicles wear may be unfamiliar to many of us but I believe many GM fans won’t be put off at all.  The opportunity here is in garnering interest from NASCAR fans, many who enjoy the brand rivalry.  Getting them to watch a race on a road course might help convert them into fans of other road-racing series and convert them to F1 fans as well.  This was a brilliant stroke by the Circuit of the Americas and could be a major step for racing here in America.