Why I’m Not Excited for the Austin GP
Will the Austin GP actually happen or not is a question that’s been floating around American racing circles since the surprise announcement last spring. And honestly, I’m not that excited for it. I can explain why in with two words, Herman Tilke. Yes, Austin will be a Tilke track, so whether it’s built or not, it’s not going to be that great. Tilke tracks suffer from “Tilke Syndrome”, which means they have too many chicanes that serve no point, and only make passing even harder. Worse, there’s a good chance the second MotoGP race in the US could move there. The last thing either F1 or MotoGP needs is ANOTHER Tilke Track…. they already have too many!
Austin doesn’t look like it breaks the Tilke mold. As with EVERY Tilke Track, it has Tilke Syndrome, and until that’s cured, it’ll not produce good racing, especially for F1. And I don’t want to hear the “how can you say this before we’ve ever seen a race there” or “give it a chance”, because we’ve seen plenty of Tilke tracks get built, and they universally are bad. Istanbul is the best one , and that’s still not that great of track. There’s no way this is going to be any different, especially for F1. Motorcycle road racing isn’t as bad at a Tilke track, but still, the less on the schedule, the better. Compare a Tilke track to a real race track, say, Phillip Isle, Monza, Road America, Spa, or Montreal, and it really becomes obvious why no one likes them.
Besides the fact that F1 has way to many Tilke tracks, I really worry Indycar, ALMS, AMA Pro Racing, WSBK, or MotoGP could end up racing here, and none of them need this. Indycar already has enough issues with Infineon, Barber, and Mid Ohio; I can live without watching Indycar’s parade around a Tilke track. As for MotoGP, I especially don’t want to see the Indy GP get traded for this. I like the IndyGP, and it’s pretty close to where I live, or at least, a thousand miles (literally) closer than Austin. I’m biased, of course, but having the MotoGP in Indy really does help get some non MotoGP people involved in the series. Indy is a name that resonates in the American racing world, were as Austin…doesn’t. Laguna Seca is hugely popular with American Road Racing and Motorcycle fans, but Austin, again, isn’t. And again, MotoGP doesn’t need any more Tilke tracks, especially if they’re going to run India or Russia, which likely will be Tilke built. Same with WSBK, there are plenty of Tilke’s out there, we don’t need another.
Austin GP seems to have some committed Fanboy’s/Girls, and I’ve just got to ask, what is it about F1 in America that brings out the crazy in American race fans? The USF1 fans were the same way… they got really upset that there were questions about that team, and guess what? They didn’t make the field, and even if they had, they would not have scored a SINGLE point. Or the equally crazy Danica Patrick to F1 people who went on and on in 2009? I don’t know…but I do know that American MotoGP fans don’t act like that. Maybe it’s because there hasn’t been a successful American in F1 since Mario Andretti, while in MotoGP, we’ve seen plenty of American World Champions. Or maybe the Crapwagon.com people who like F1 get into these things, and bring the Crapwagon mentality over to this?
Of course, all of this is assuming the Austin track actually get’s built. It’s February of 2011, and according to the website, construction started at the beginning of January. That’s not a lot of time to get the track built… I really don’t have a ton of confidence they’ll get it done; but Korea got done, so anything’s possible. The plan is to run the race in the summer of 2012… which means they’ve got about a year and a half to get it built, and the facilities up and running, though as Korea proves, that is actually optional, and that you can even get an award as the “best promoter” for it! A race at Austin in the Summer… well, maybe Sepang won’t be the hottest race of the year… Whether this track is actually finished or not, I’m not really too concerned. I just hope Indycar, American Le Mans Series, MotoGP, World Superbike, AMA Pro Racing, and the potential NASCAR DTM and GT3 championship all avoid the place like the plague, because it does have a plague; Tilke Syndrome. We can throw them a bone and let Austin take Grand Am… no one will notice anyways… but let’s keep real racing series at real race tracks.