U.S. Grand Prix Again Seen As Success For Austin, Despite Attendance Dip
Last weekend's F1 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin "had its glitches and dips, but it also showed signs that the laid-back city and the world's most glamorous motor sport are figuring out a fit," according to Dinges, Maher & Wear of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. F1 driver Lewis Hamilton said, "As much as I love the Silverstone Grand Prix -- of course, it's the home grand prix for me -- I have to say that the U.S. Grand Prix has taken over. The city is so vibrant during the weekend; the atmosphere is incredible in Austin ... Montreal is usually a really good event, but I think this has topped Montreal as well." While crowds at this year's race "did drop from Austin's inaugural event" last year, the drop "wasn't that much." This year’s numbers were "considered by some to be a show of strength." While there are no numbers for the Fan Fest event, the celebration that "sealed off blocks of downtown this past weekend, it spilled even beyond those barriers." In some cases during the weekend, getting around "was not that easy." COTA President & CEO Steve Sexton acknowledged that "traffic was worse" this year than in '12. He said the close-in shuttle parking lots "contributed to the jams, as did the drop-in helicopter flights." MetroRail, which "over the past three months averaged about 2,400 boardings a day, had 13,072 boardings during the three days of racing and shuttle service running." Meanwhile, the race "was again a boon" for area hotels. COTA officials said that "patronage from overseas fans" was up 80% over last year's event (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/19).