Published November 14, 2013
More than 117,000 attended last year's U.S. Grand Prix final in Austin, Texas.
The U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas on Sunday is hoping to avoid "the sophomore slump," according to John Maher of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. The sophomore slump occurs in baseball, football "and, yes, motorsports." Oftentimes the first time a race is held at a track, it "draws a crowd that turns out to be very hard to equal, let alone top." Grand Prix Tours CEO Barry Simpson said, "Everyone wants to see the first race." The second-year downturn hit Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the previous site of the U.S. Grand Prix. The first race day in '00 attracted an estimated 225,000 fans. The next year, that number dropped by about 50,000. Could "the same thing happen at Circuit of the Americas?" Last year's race "attracted a Sunday crowd of 117,479." The three-day attendance at Circuit of the Americas "totaled more than 265,000 fans," and in May the race was named sports event of the year by SportsBusiness Journal at a gala in Manhattan. Yet after Austin’s "much-celebrated" first F1 race, Mercedes Dir Ross Brawn warned in a N.Y. Times article, “The first year you come to a race at a facility like this, it’s great to see what fantastic support it’s had -- but it’s about maintaining that support.” Circuit of the Americas "hasn’t been in the headlines so often this year, and Simpson said his business will bring about half as many fans to Austin." That is "about what he expected." One tour operator "bucking that trend is Glass Entertainment Management in Tennessee." Glass Entertainment President Patrick Glass said, "We’re double what we were last year, and we probably could have doubled that. We have one (hotel) room left. We’re at 99 percent." Meanwhile, just days before the race, "hotels rooms are still available in Austin, although most hotels continue to ask for a premium price." Single-day tickets for the race "are available this year, as opposed to last year’s three-day block, so race attendance could be influenced by something as simple as the weather on Sunday, when the U.S. Grand Prix will be run." Circuit of the Americas Chair Bobby Epstein said, “We were cautioned to expect the ‘sophomore slump’ that is commonly experienced, but it seems we have an above average (number of) ‘first-time’ buyers and won’t see much of a dip" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/12