Some of the 100,000 people expected for Austin’s first Formula 1 race have already started streaming into town. The international sporting event has a reputation of attracting the super rich, and already, the rumors are flying.
One tale making the rounds is that a wealthy F1 fan, upon learning the Driskill Hotel was booked up this weekend, offered to buy the entire hotel. (Reached for comment, the Driskill had a good laugh upon hearing the story.)
But truth can be stranger (or richer) than fiction.
“We’re flying in our own celebrity DJ,” says Nicholas Frankl, an event promoter who with his sister runs My Yacht Group. They’re in town for F1 this week. “We have Lamborghini sponsoring the event. We have the most expensive Champagne available in America today, called Comte de Mazeray. It’s 24-karat gold-infused Champagne.”
Frankl and his sister go around the world from F1 race to F1 race hosting parties for “high net-worth individuals.” You know: rich people. Normally, they host them on $50 million yachts, but that’s not possible on Lady Bird Lake.
“We did try,” Frankl said. “We spoke to the Army Air Corps. They couldn’t lift it. But the elements of decadence and luxury and coolness and exclusivity are all there. And we’re doing it in a very cool venue, the Ballet Austin venue.”
Tickets for his event start at $300 for a two-day pass and go on up to $10,000 for a table.
But that’s not the only high-dollar party in town and it’s not the only one that follows F1 events around the world. Local F1 enthusiast Danielle Crespo started three websites for F1 fans planning to visit Austin, including one focused on weekend afterparties.
“It’s its own economy swirling around the world,” Crespo said. “Twenty times a year it just drops down on another continent. Sits there for a long weekend. And it changes the face of that city for a while.”
Crespo lists more than 200 parties. But she says the most exclusive, VIP events for the ultrarich are not open to the public.
“There are a few who are going to be renting out restaurants, and they already have,” she said. “Other ones are going to be renting private homes. And of course other ones are going to be more flamboyant. They’re going to be renting out top-floor condos in some of these buildings and mansions out in the country. Things like that.”
But you don’t have to be Richard Branson to party on F1 weekend. There will be free entertainment downtown, if you’re willing to brave the traffic and crowds. Austin Fan Fest has five free stages. The Cedar Creek Courtyard is hosting three days of free musical performances. And Cap Metro is offering a free bus that loops around downtown.