Formula 1

Good Monday morning. Austin’s in for “unseasonably warm” weather today, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories that KUT News is working on, this so-called “Cyber Monday:”

“Some Central Texans have already been hard at work since Thanksgiving evening taking advantage of “Black Friday” holiday shopping deals.  And for many of them, that means whipping out the credit cards over, and over, and over again. …

Some promise zero percent interest or thousands of rewards points, but with a catch buried in the fine print. CardHub.com compares credit cards offers. It has compiled a list of what it calls the ‘scariest’ offers of 2012.”

“When you hear the words “Texas Railroad Commission” you’d be forgiven for thinking the elected body governs railroads in the state of Texas. In fact, the Commission is in charge of regulating the state’s oil and gas industry. …

Not surprisingly, a lot of Texans don’t understand why the State agency that regulates the oil and gas drilling is called the Railroad Commission.  The name change is something Railroad Commission Chair Barry Smitherman says he can get behind.”

Good morning. Austin can expect partly cloudy skies and a seasonably warm high in the 80s, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

“The Austin Chamber of Commerce is calling Austin’s first Formula 1 race a ‘smashing’ success.

While the chamber acknowledges that there will be some lessons learned and that some businesses didn’t get the crowds they’d hoped for, officials say it all went pretty smoothly.”

For many Austinites, Formula One meant road closures, traffic jams and roaring choppers. But for some local nonprofits, it also meant an uptick in donations.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area and Austin Partners in Education each walked away with $26,000 in donations from F1 weekend, thanks to an agreement between Circuit of the Americas andHotels for Hope, a local hotel broker that raises money for charities.”

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport expects about 21,800 people will fly out today. That's far more than this year's Austin City Limits Festival exodus (some 18,000 people on Oct. 15).

ABIA processed more than 9,000 passengers between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. That’s about 3,700 more people than during that same period (actually 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) last week.

To help with increased demand, airlines added seven flights and sent bigger planes to Austin, adding a total of more than 2,500 seats. Chartered flights included 747 and 767 jets.

The airport expects to stay busy all week as F1 fans continue to fly out and holiday travel begins.

Good morning. The National Weather Service says to expect some clouds and mild winds with a high in the mid 70s – decent weather for all the F1 fans flying out of Austin today. Here’s some stories, race related and not, that KUT News has been working on:

“Thousands of F1 fans are now headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Officials say today could be one of the busiest days ever at the airport. To help with increased demand, airlines added seven flights today and a total of more than 2,500 additional seats.”

Almost 83,000 people traveled to the Circuit of the Americas track in southeastern Travis County today to watch German driver Sebastian Vettel seize the pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix. And while the track has received positive reviews, transportation to and from it was not without a few bumps in the road.”

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Austin’s first Formula 1 race is now in the record books. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton won the U.S. Grand Prix.

Thousands of F1 fans are now headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Officials say today could be one of the busiest days ever at the airport. To help with increased demand, airlines added seven flights today and a total of more than 2,500 additional seats.

The city is expecting heavy traffic around the airport and longer-than-normal screening lines. Airport officials say passengers need to arrive at least two hours before takeoff.

flickr.com/code_martial

Thousands of Mexican fans flowed into Austin for F1 and the thrill of watching Mexican driver Sergio "Checo" Pérez speed around the track. David Besch was one of them. As he waited in line to get into the Circuit of the Americas stands , Besch said F1 in Austin reminded him of the thrill of his first race at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City.

“I was about eight or nine years old – I think. My uncle took me to the race. From then on, I didn’t stop watching it.”

Many of the fans this weekend said they were ready to see Mexico reopen its F1 track. Recent reports say the country’s leading business owners – among them Carlos Slim Domit, the son of one of the richest men in the world – are talking are talking about getting on the F1 schedule as early as next year.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The Grand Prix has just finished at the Circuit of the Americas track. Regional officials share the following regarding traffic conditions leaving the track: 

Today marks the inaugural United States Grand Prix for Austin and through mid-day no major incidents have occurred this race day, according to City of Austin and Travis County officials. ... 

When departing the race, officials recommend State Highway 21 as an alternate route to State Highway 130 or  IH 35, if southbound;  or Texas 71, if eastbound.

After the race all lanes will be westbound on Pearce Lane.  On  FM 812, three lanes will be westbound and one eastbound.

Circuit of the Americas

It's the last day of Formula 1 racing action. After two days of practice runs and qualifying races, the first U.S. Grand Prix since 2007 gets underway at 1 p.m. today.

KUT News is compiling the best tweets, pics and more about the race, expected to draw some 120,000 people to the Circuit of the Americas.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Almost 83,000 people traveled to the Circuit of the Americas track in southeastern Travis County today to watch German driver Sebastian Vettel seize the pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix. And while the track has received positive reviews, transportation to and from it was not without a few bumps in the road.

“The track is fantastic. The transportation leaves something to be desired,” said Hal Merchant, who travelled from the Reno, Nevada area with his girlfriend Judy Ashton. “The bus ride’s 30 minutes, but you spend an hour standing in line.”

Merchant said he wished he could have parked out at the track, and drove half the way there before being turned back. He said he lacked clear information about where to find a parking garage. Circuit of the America’s website lists shuttle pick-up points, but doesn’t offer details on where to park your car.

racing photos Charles Coates, via flickr.com/caterhamf1/; ticket photo by Mark dewey for KUT News

After a day of practice yesterday, it's qualifying races at the Circuit of the Americas today. That mean more Formula 1 crowds, as folks on Twitter are attesting. One issue at the COTA track is the lack of credit card acceptance. (If you're going, bring cash.) But it also means mounting excitement, both at the track, at the Austin Fan Fest downtown, and elsewhere.

KUT News is compiling a Storify timeline of news, photos and reactions this Saturday. Keep refreshing this page for updates.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas isn't the only big event this weekend: event organizers have also launched the Austin Fan Fest this race weekend. Located in the Warehouse District downtown, the festival features music, food and drink, and lots of displays and promotions for Formula 1 gearheads.

Photographer Filipa Rodrigues took in the scene Friday evening for KUT News. Take a look at her photos, posted to KUT's Flickr page.

Ticket photo by Mark Dewey for KUT News; all other photos by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

It's finally here: Austin's Formula 1 Grand Prix marks the sport's first stateside race in several years. Austinites and F1 fans alike have taken to social media to log their reactions. And KUT News is compiling Twitter users' pictures, rants, raves and traffic updates via Storify.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Just two years after the idea was first floated, Formula 1 is a go in Austin.

The U.S. Grand Prix at Elroy, Texas’ Circuit of the Americas track is this Sunday, Nov. 16.  But a full weekend of practice sessions, qualifying races and more will entertain an estimated 300,000 attendees over the entire weekend.

Meanwhile, local officials and regular citizens alike are prepping for visitors. City management has activated its emergency area command to monitor traffic and public safety in conjunction with additional state and federal authorities. Regular Austinites are facing a choice: batten down the hatches and avoid the madness, or embrace it. Even without F1 tickets, the latter should be easy with events like Austin Fan Fest closing downtown streets and offering free entertainment.


View Formula 1 Closures for Nov. 15 in a larger map

Update: The city has partnered with the University of Texas to allow Centennial Park to be a shuttle pick-up and drop off location. As a result, UT says there may be heavy traffic in the area bound by the perimeter of Trinity Street, MLK Boulevard, I-35 and East 15th Street.

"R" Permit holders for the Trinity Garage will need to relocate for the weekend. "F" and "S" permit holders are not required to relocate, but the University has suggested it. "F" and "S" permit holders may park free of charge at any of university garage, with the exception of the Conference Center Garage (CCG) and Manor Garage (MAG). For more information, check out UT's Formula One parking guide.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin’s airport certainly looks a lot different from a normal day. There’s additional security, several car service drivers, and a bunch of people in yellow shirts speaking a bunch of different languages.

But it’s not the insane crush many expected for Formula 1.

Despite the anticipated arrival of 18,000 visitors today, “things seem to be running fairly smoothly,” says Jim Halbrook with Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA). “We’ve got customer service representatives throughout the terminal helping people find their way, helping people find their ground transportation." 

While the Formula 1 Grand Prix’s Austin debut has inspired excitement among racing fans, many Austinites are wary. Since the announcement, questions over public investment in the race and the Circuit of the Americas track have largely dominated the discussion over F1.

Promoters initially asked the city to pay millions into a trust fund to cover fees associated with the event, before private investors offered up the cash themselves. Brinksmanship between local promoters and F1 bosses nearly derailed the project as well.

Mark Hintsa

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.”

Good Thursday morning to all. We’ve got a beautiful day ahead of us as we rev up for the festivities Formula 1 is bringing our way. There will be partly sunny skies, with a high near 65. As for tonight, the skies will be cloudy, with low near 50.

Here are some stories KUT News and our partners have been working on this week:

Some of the 100,000 people expected for Austin’s first Formula One race have already started streaming into town. The international sporting event has a reputation of attracting the super rich, and there may be some truth to that. “We’re flying in our own celebrity DJ,” said Nicholas Frankl, an event promoter who with his sister runs My Yacht Group. “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.”

DNA testing that death row inmate Hank Skinner sought for more than a decade further implicates him in the New Year’s Eve 1993 triple murder for which he was sentenced to die, according to an advisory that the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed Wednesday in Gray County state district court. But a lawyer for Skinner, who was convicted in 1995 of the murders of his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons in Pampa, said the DNA testing is incomplete and indicates that another person may have been at the scene of the crimes.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Ready or not, Formula 1 has arrived.

As Austin readies for an onslaught of some 100,000 visitors, we’ve heard lots about traffic planshelicopter permits, and even counter-terrorism measures.  But what about the actual race: the cars, the drivers and the sport itself? Confused? KUT News has assembled a primer on this weekend’s Formula 1 race.

  • What Sort of Cars Are These?

The FIA Formula One World Championship is the highest class of single-seater auto racing that is authorized by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.

The "formula" in Formula 1 refers to a set of guidelines that each racing car must adhere to. The results are state-of-the-art.

Flickr user Images of Money, bit.ly/LeSsiT

Tens of thousands of Formula 1 fans are making their way to Austin for this weekend’s Grand Prix. Many are from foreign countries.

The Austin Better Business Bureau says business owners should be prepared to accept foreign currency or else they may lose out on some customers.

The BBB says business owners should be aware of ever-changing exchange rates and should talk to their banks about whether they’ll charge extra for depositing foreign currency.

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