Work Keeping Pace at Formula One Track
By Joy Diaz, KUT News
The race that will kick off Formula One in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas is scheduled for the weekend before Thanksgiving, and things are pretty much on schedule.
At the race site in southeast Travis County, earth movers are picking up giant piles of dirt. Workers, strapped to metal railings, install bleachers, windows and pipes. Al Mays with Circuit of the Americas, the track and entertainment facility where the race will be held, gives a tour of the race track.
“Right here, turn 1, you are elevated at 133 feet in the air, which is very high,” Mays said.
Mays says that while the public’s eyes are set on November, F1’s inspection by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile is Sept. 25. Everything has to be done by then. That means more than 500 people working three shifts each day.
Mays said Monday that things are changing so fast it’s hard to keep up.
“What I see different from Friday is, number one, the railings are being completed for the safety railing, and the topping of the safety bridge has been done,” he said. “If there is an opening in a road or a trail through the tracks that they are working on at one hour, say 8 o’clock in the morning, you go out on a tour, you come back 30 minutes later, it’s closed off.”
Officials at Circuit of the Americas are confident they’ll meet their deadline.
In neighborhoods around the race track, many things have a tight deadline too. There’s a small real estate boom going on as people try to sell their properties before the first race takes place.
Daniel Stone was clearing a metal building from a lot on FM 812 just across from the track. His friend just sold it.
“I guess property value went up because of the track, so he’s happy with it, he’s glad the track is coming,” Stone said.
Road crews are also working against the clock. Most of the road projects Travis County planned are almost done.
Some roads have been widened. Others are scheduled to be rerouted during events.
Frank Gomez lives a mile from the track on Elroy Road. The two-lane, two-way road that leads to his 7-acre property will soon turn into a two-lane, one-way road.
“On TV they said there was a 10-mile line in England where they are having the race right now,” Gomez said. “I think it’s probably all the way from here to Ben White; that’s only six miles. You can see the roads are small. We are not really set up for that kind of traffic.”
Travis County will spend around $6 million on road construction for F1. County officials say the roads are expected to be ready, weather permitting, by race day on Nov. 16. More than 120,000 fans are expected.