Austin Texas Prepares for V8 Thunder from Down Under with Australia’s Exciting V8 Supercar’s Inaugural Austin 400 Appearance
While F1 may fit the image of a city that bills itself as America’s cultural and live music capital, an unknown Australian series renowned for rough and tumble racing among largely unfamiliar cars seems a much less likely attraction. But in the lead-up to V8 Supercars’ latest and most ambitious foreign foray, interest in the Aussie invasion is surprisingly widespread and building to something akin to excitement.
Amid much debate about the drawing power of racing series from a faraway land, the COTA organizers are reporting strong pre-event ticket sales and V8 officials are quietly confident that the spectator count over three days will be around 60,000.
While dwarfed by the six-figure three-day attendances at the USA Grand Prix and the recent Grand Prix of the Americas MotoGP race, that sort of turnout would be a stunning success compared with the embarrassingly small crowds at V8’s previous out-of-region races in China, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
They all fell by the wayside due to lack of support, but early indications suggest Austin might embrace the “Thunder from Down Under” and that the event will be V8’s first overseas excursion to see out its five-year contract.
A modestly successful crowd attendance this weekend will establish a base on which to build for next year and beyond, securing the foothold in a major foreign market that V8 Supercars has craved since the series’ pioneering one-off visit to the Shanghai F1 track in 2005.
Upon arrival earlier in the week, the V8 fraternity were agog at the scale of the track’s facilities and excited by the unexpectedly undulating layout of the circuit, which promises to be challenging and produce eventful racing.
The complex is even impressive from afar, thanks to the soaring snake-like structure visible long before you reach the track.
It appears in the distance like a rattlesnake poised to strike, rising above the pocket of rolling land on which the circuit is built.
A viewing platform at the top of the tower, complete with a vertigo-inducing glass section of floor, provides commanding vistas of the 350-acre complex and the track’s rising, diving and twisting turns, as well as the Austin city skyline just a few miles away…
The tame tour emphasized the steepness of the uphill run into the first turn, which is wide enough to encourage drivers to take different lines through the corner and attempt daring passing moves.
The rest of the shortened course is a mixture of fast turns and twisting S-bend sequences, with the low kerbs and expansive paved run-off areas causing V8 officials concerns that drivers will be tempted to straight-line some of the tighter corners.
The truncated track has a stadium-style atmosphere, curling its way through raised spectator viewing mounds and large grandstands.
Although officials are loathe to make crowd predictions, it is understood that three-day ticket sales have already exceeded the 28,000 total for a recent two-day national championship sports car event.
It is estimated that around 2000 Australians have travelled to Austin to support the V8s, with many staying on to attend next week’s Indianapolis 500 or the Charlotte 600 stock car classic.
The Austin 400 will be shown live on Sunday on the Speed channel, with the two races preceded by highlights of Saturday’s twin legs.
- More than 220,000 lbs of race-cars and equipment valued in excess of $100 million has arrived from Australia in Texas in preparation for this weekend’s inaugural Austin 400 at Circuit of The Americas.
- The race cars and equipment arrived at the state-of-the-art circuit yesterday – also the home for the US Formula 1 Grand Prix.
- This weekend’s race will be the first US event for the Australian series which features 650 horsepower, rear-wheel-drive machines from Ford, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz AMG and GM’s Australian arm, Holden.
- The Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, will become the sixth venue outside Australia to host the V8 Supercars Championship, following Pukekohe and Hamilton (New Zealand), Shanghai (China), Bahrain and the Yas Marina Circuit (Abu Dhabi).
- The V8 Supercars Championship first raced outside of Australia at Pukekohe in 2001 and the Austin 400 will be the 22nd V8 Supercars Championship event to be held offshore.
- The Austin 400 is the second international event in the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship following on from the ITM 400 Auckland at Pukekohe in mid-April.
- The V8 Supercars will run four 62 mile (100 km) races – two on Saturday and two Sunday – on the shortened 3.7 km National circuit which excludes five corners from the full-size 5.5 km Grand Prix layout. Two qualifying sessions will be held each day, one for each race.
- The 28 drivers in the Australian V8 Supercar championship are certainly keeping busy in the lead-up to this weekend’s Austin 400 at Circuit of The Americas.
- Nissan Motorsport’s Todd and Rick Kelly along with Michael Caruso took the opportunity to visit the home of Nissan in the US. They visited the Nissan Altima road car plant in Smyrna, TN yesterday; while the two Kelly boys also headed to the nearby Jack Daniels factory – sponsor of the No.7 and No.15 Nissans – the previous day.
- Earlier this week, James Courtney took part in a unique car swap at the circuit as part of a promotional event for the Austin 400 race, with Courtney getting behind the wheel of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Kurt Busch’s #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS Sprint Cup car, while Busch piloted the Holden Commodore Car Of The Future prototype which has been in Texas for the past month to help publicize the event.