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SBD/November 15, 2013/Events and Attractions
COTA Seeking To Avoid Sophomore Slump Going Into This Weekend's F1 U.S. Grand Prix
Published November 15, 2013
REPEAT PERFORMANCE? USA TODAY's Rick Jervis notes F1 organizers and sponsors are "eagerly waiting to see if the only U.S. track on the Formula One circuit could replicate the crowds that came out for its inaugural race last year, when 265,000 people attended throughout the weekend, including 117,000 for the Sunday race." COTA ambassador and former driver Mario Andretti said, "The stability Austin will provide in this venue to increase its popularity in the United States and around the world is immense" (USA TODAY, 11/15). In Austin, Dave Doolittle notes, "At last year’s inaugural grand prix in Austin, large decorative stars that had been painted on the track edges before the race suddenly disappeared in the days leading up to it," but they will "return this year, at turns 18 and 19, near the end of the 3.4-mile circuit." COTA Chair Bobby Epstein said that F1 management "had the stars painted over because of 'creative differences.'" He added that F1 management also "interfered with advertising logos that were superimposed near the circuit during television broadcasts ... adding that there will be no stars at Turn 4 for that reason" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/15).
HITTING THE TRACK: NBC is broadcasting the race from Austin on Sunday afternoon, and the net's "Today" on Friday featured a behind-the-scenes report from COTA. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reported live from the track, saying when Americans "think about racing, most people talk about NASCAR," but F1 organizers are "trying to build on that one lap at a time." F1 driver Lewis Hamilton said the technology that is involved in F1 is "far beyond a lot of the different sports that are around." Gutierrez said, "Hamilton may not be a household name in the (U.S.), but in Europe he's racing royalty." Hamilton and Gutierrez then rode together in a street car on the track, with Gutierrez telling Hamilton, "You, my friend, have the best job in the world" ("Today," NBC, 11/15).