SBD/November 18, 2013/Events and Attractions

Despite Slight Drop In Attendance, COTA's U.S. Grand Prix Deemed A Success

Crowds at this year's race made it Austin's second largest sporting event
Circuit of the Americas officials yesterday said that this year’s three-day attendance for the F1 U.S. Grand Prix was 250,324, meaning it "avoided the sophomore slump," according to John Maher of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Austin’s second grand prix was "even more festive than its first." Fans in the main grandstand before the race yesterday "were treated to a virtual dance-off" between the Univ. of Texas Chap Girls and the Cowboys Cheerleaders. The day "started out overcast, but the skies cleared, and the temperature hit 85 degrees by noon." Celebrities seen in the paddock included singer Sting, actors Matt LeBlanc and Antonio Banderas and actress Melanie Griffith. The crowd for yesterday’s race was "announced as 113,162, which would make it Austin’s second-largest sporting event behind last year’s inaugural F1 race." Last year's event "had a three-day attendance topping 265,000" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/18). In Austin, Cedric Golden notes there were a "few gaps in the grandstand at the racetrack Sunday, but the expensive seats were well-filled, for sure" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/18).

CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Sharon Swart noted the race "brought out a larger contingent from Hollywood, which is helping to burnish the F1 brand in the U.S." COTA organizers "made an effort to invite film, TV, music and sports talent this year," but many from Hollywood "also seemed to have made the trek to Austin on their own." Actors Gerard Butler and Adrian Grenier, actresses Joy Bryant and Jennie Garth, and chef Gordon Ramsay were all seen at the race (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 11/17).

OUTSIDE IMPACT: F1 Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial, N.J. Special Assistant Chris Pook said of other F1 races in the U.S. impacting Austin's race, "What’s going to happen is it’s going to create more media awareness. You’re going to get the New York media involved, like The New York Times. When The New York Times starts writing about Formula One and motor racing, the nation starts writing. The same thing with The Wall Street Journal. All these big-market publications, they have a huge impact on the media across the country. That will help, and it will increase the television awareness. Television will go up, awareness will go up, and at the end of the day, it will benefit here (Austin)" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/18).
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