Why I’m Not Excited for the Austin GP

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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.

Who Needs Austin?

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?

Tilke Syndrome, in Full Affect @ Austin

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.

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Posted on February 10, 2011, in Formula One, Moto GP and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I understand you like it the way it is, but take a look around the world, multi use circuits are the new business model that can sustain a circuit financially. I’m sure Indy is a great place, but what are they doing to stay in the market place? Also the Austin circuit will be way better than most other circuits. The location, the infrastructure, the rolling hills, all make it a perfect fit. I had lunch with some of the construction folks today. Yes it’s being built. Check out the pics as it moves along “Friends of Formula 1 Austin Texas” on Facebook and Linkedin.

    • Um…it’s a Tilke track, it’s boring. There are “multi-use” tracks that aren’t Tilke based. Besides Indy doesn’t need to be “multi-use” (besides, they have multiple races there). Glad to see it’s being built… but it’s on a Korean GP schedule, and that’s not good.

  2. I started watching and attended my first race in 1955. Should I listen to your tripe talk? Go back to school and learn grammar and spelling boy. It is a must for a gernaldist.

  3. Do you actually think a track that has the input and oversight of Kevin Schwantz is going to be boring? I think you might want to delete this column or write a new one after the circuit goes live. I believe your in for a pleasant surprise.

    • Uh huh… Sure…. I respect Kevin, but it’s a Tilke Track. From Malaysia to Korea to Valencia to where ever he’s touched, he’s turned it to shit. Why is Austin any different? Maybe get Tony Cotman out there and let him build it, then we can talk.

  4. Doesn’t do much for me. Good luck to Austin (and I mean that), but I’m not a fan of Tilke tracks, either. They always look like he sneezed when designing it.

    Austin has relatively little motorsports history. We’ll see if they can build some, or if this is a hideously expensive mistake that comes back to haunt them when F1 changes its tune in a few years.

    • They got the track laid out for Korea in time, and so they should be able to do so here, but they’d better get busy. And a 10 year contract with the FIA… have fun with that.

  5. As an aside, I’ll back up the Tony Cotman mention. His work on Sao Paolo helped make a questionable event an awesome, exciting one, and his Edmonton design has met almost universal positive reaction from IndyCar fans:

    http://indycar.com:8080/var/assets/edmontonnew.pdf

  6. Tilke builds what you ask for. You ask for a slow safe cheap track and thats what you get. It’s easy for you to point fingers at Tilke but you should understand all the factors that contribute to a boring track cannot all fall on his shoulders. Boring, no overtaking, not happening in Austin. These guys are on top of it and I’m excited, sorry you’re not.

    • Um… there’s nothing cheap about F1, if that’s what you guys are looking for, have fun with it. Safe? I guess, they’re safe, but not holding a race is also safe… and how it’s not the TRACK DESGINERS fault for a bad track… not sure I get that.

  7. Not sure if you’ve seen this. It’s several months old but worth watching: 2 parts

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bXhJUPiohU

  8. So you really like the Indy track, but your railing against Austin? Please. Big loss of credibility there son. All the Tilke tracks are different,have you actually looked at the design of Austin? Because your comments are a rehash of old news, and really do not reflect on what has been designed,approved, and what has been said by the DRIVERS who race on them. Granted, not all of them are good, but when the proper planning and time was put in to the layout, the drivers love them. The Austin track is so much different, and incorporates aspects of many of the tracks you name as “real” tracks.
    You need to do a little more research before you regurgitate old news, and old ideas.

  9. Let’s face it, F1 doesn’t have much overtaking at any track. Is this the track designers fault or the car designers fault? I don’t think the F1 car designers and Engineers do much wind tunnel testing with a car in front. They cannot pass because they loose their aero downforce when trying to pass. Look back a couple of decades and watch Senna, Prost and those guys from that era. They pass because their cars allowed them to come up on and move around the car in front of them.

    This isn’t Tilke’s fault. Give us a chance down here, I bet you like the outcome…

  10. I personally think we will see some good races at the Austin track. Lets face it, every track no matter where it is or designed there is a turn or chicane that someone does not like. This one is no different. For instance I can see how turns 12-15 will probably be a slow and boring part of the track. I also really like turn one but I think the starting line is too close to it and will just be a bottle neck that will spread the cars out. But during the race it will be a good place to watch the race from.

    Besides turn one at the start of the race and turns 12-15, the track reminds me of the roads carved through the rocky mountains just outside of Denver. I used to go with my cousins to this one particular area in the mountains as a kid and watch modded cars fly through the turns. That was awesome and I don’t see how this could be any different with purpose built cars and drivers that were seemingly made to that kind of driving.

  11. dude, how can you type with your hands stuffing so many sour grapes into your mouth? I guess this is your blog so you can be as negative as you want but lets make a deal; when the USGP at Austin turns out to be a big time, stick to your principles by staying away.

    • The best part is, I live closer to Montreal and Indy, so if I want to see REAL Grand Prix racing (Motorcyle or F1), I’ll go there. And if the worst happens and MotoGP goes down there, I can always get to Laguna Seca, another REAL track.

  12. I just read your “About me”. I didn’t realize I was blogging with a 17 yr old who is still playing video games for his F1 experience. Sorry to interupt your game play. When you mature and would like to start a real blog, instead of a puke fest, let me know. I’ll come back.

  13. Oh, so you’re 19. Wow, that makes a difference.

  14. My impressions after attending Austin practice 11/16/2012.
    Turn one is way way way too slow. Needs banking and wider radius.
    Turns 13, 14, and 15 need to be removed and replaced with large mound for general admission ticket holders.
    The grandstands and pits are puny and unimpressive.
    The entire facility feels cramped and largely unfinished. Pedestrian areas are too narrow and ada switchback paths need alternatives for the able bodied. General Admission areas need to be added in the infield on the north end side.
    There were literally hundreds of excess clueless temp hires walking in circles, but not a single person was available to keep the tards from standing on steps to take photos.

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