Formula 1

Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is preparing for an influx of intercontinental traffic for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix weekend. ABIA is requiring reservations from some aircraft operators between November 12 and 21.

Flights that aren’t normally scheduled commercial carriers with ABIA will have to fill out a form to receive a “Prior Permission Required” number.

ABIA warns that international flight operators will still have to clear U.S. Customs. And they'll need to get in touch with Austin U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Authority no later than 30 days prior to desired arrival. (That means the deadline is October 18 for travelers who want to get here the day before the race.) ABIA also warns pilots that they should be prepared for airborne holding and reroutes to the Georgetown or San Marcos airports.

The State of Texas executed Cleve Foster, 48, last night. He was put to death for the sexual assault and shooting death of Nyaneur "Mary" Pal in Fort Worth in 2002.

Here’s what KUT News has been working on this morning:

Here’s a roundup other Austin and Texas stories from around the web:

  • Austin's First 'Kids Only' Yoga Studio (KEYE)

KEYE reports that The Little Yoga House is Austin's first "kids only" yoga studio. Creators say it teaches kids not only about the importance of a healthy lifestyle but also about dealing with stress in a healthy way.

Circuit of the Americas

After a visit from Formula 1 officials yesterday, Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is right on track to host the United States Grand Prix in November, according to a press release from COTA. 

Charles Whiting, the director of racing, safety and technical matters for the Fédération Internationale de l’ Automobile (FIA), the international body that oversees F1 racing, declared Austin’s track “ready to race.”  His approval is necessary for an F1 circuit to conduct Grand Prix races.

The track was awarded a Grade 1 designation, the highest distinction that can be given to a motorsports venue.  Whiting declared that the circuit was “built to the highest quality” and that he had “no complaints whatsoever.”

Two months before the checkered flag at Austin's Formula 1 United States Grand Prix gets waved for the first time, KUT News got an exclusive look at the track.

Our guides: two German engineers, whose company Tilke has had a hand in building half of all current Formula 1 racetracks around the world.

This video was produced for KUT News by Axel Gerdau, and shot by Daniel Deloach and Gerdau. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

As the Austin forecast calls for more 100 degree days, Governor Rick Perry and his wife Anita left this morning for eight days in Italy, where money and motorsports are in the wind.

On the agenda are various economic development meetings, a speaking engagement at Lake Como, and Sunday's Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, in Milan.

With Austin's United States Grand Prix only a few weeks away, the Perrys will be watching a sport that's followed, often obsessively, around the world, but that has had about as much traction in the United States as professional soccer. (see Esquire: "Will America Ever Catch The Formula 1 Bug?") The United States has hosted 41 Formula 1 races in the past, at seven different locations, but the sport has not gained ground on American motorsports like NASCAR and IndyCar racing.

Formula Fest has crashed for the time being. 

Organizers hoped a planned two-day concert would draw 50,000 people to Auditorium Shores in celebration of Austin's inaugural U.S. Grand Prix race in November. In recent weeks, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and additional City Council members had sponsored a resolution to allow the event on Nov. 16-18. 

But a red flag went up today from Austin’s Junior League, a group of more than 2,000 women who dedicate time to charitable causes. Rather than go head-on with the League, City Hall decided to nix the Formula Fest proposal, and pull it from this Thursday's council agenda.

The Junior League’s objection? A conflict with its annual charity event, a popular holiday craft show called A Christmas Affair.  The event has run for 36 straight years, all but one year at the Palmer Events Center, located next to Auditorium Shores.   

The Junior League of Austin

The Austin City Council has delayed a vote on approving a concert put on by the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) during the Formula One race weekend.

The concert would need special approval because Auditorium Shores is already booked for the maximum number of event days for the year.

But that’s not the only conflict. The concert would be the same weekend as, and just across the street from, the Junior League of Austin’s “A Christmas Affair.”

The decades-old shopping event is the Junior League’s biggest fundraiser and planning for it starts two years in advance. Parking is already limited for the 30,000 or so anticipated attendees, and the Junior League believes adding another large event in the same area would be overwhelming.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Austin City Council members voted 5-2 last night to pass a plan that regulates short term rental properties.

The plan puts no limit on the number of short term rentals that are owner-occupied. But council members put a cap on the percentage of homes per census tract that can be used primarily as short term rentals. All short term rental homeowners will have to register with the city and pay hotel tax.

Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo, who had been pushing for an outright ban on rentals that aren’t the renters' primary residence, voted against the regulations.

Circuit of the Americas

Autoweek points to an announcement from Circuit of the Americas, host of Austin’s inaugural Formula One U.S. Grand Prix this November: the COTA team is looking to hire up to 700 part-time positions to help out over race weekend. 

Applicants must register and then be vetted by a third-party firm; once hired they must work the entire event, November 16 to November 18. “You will be paid for the entire event on Friday, Nov. 30, the week after the Thanksgiving holiday,” the release states, adding that “Jobs at COTA … are part-time, so we encourage all applicants to work these events around their other employment.”

The track managers aren’t the only ones at work: late last week, city and county responders held an open house detailing plans to address an influx of F1 visitors.

KUT News

Austin has a new Twitter power user: Police Chief Art Acevedo.

While Chief Acevedo is a recent addition to the Twitterverse, having signed up this April, he’s wasted little time in utilizing the social communications tool. While Acevedo uses Twitter to communicate with citizens and share safety updates, it also shows him in a casual light, sometimes joking and complaining.

There’s been some undeniable complaints in Acevedo’s most recent string of tweets, coming all the way from Northampton, England. The police chief is part of a delegation from Austin traveling across the pond to observe a Formula 1 race at the nearby Silverstone circuit. While Acevedo and other city officials have justified the trip as a way to bolster public safety for Austin's upcoming F1 race, others have criticized the trip as a junket.

David Ashcroft,

Just months before Formula One arrives in Austin, city officials left today to tour the F1 Silverstone circuit in Northampton, England, and meet with race and safety officials.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and City Manager Marc Ott have their full travel expenses covered the Circuit of the Americas, the organization responsible for building the Austin-area track and hosting the race.

The other city officials, including Police Chief Art Acevedo and Fire Chief Rhonda Mae Kerr, have a portion of their expenses covered; their flights are being paid for with approximately $5,500 in city taxpayer dollars.

Paulo Martins for KUT News

The Austin City Council wrapped up its Thursday meeting at 3:45 a.m. Friday morning.

Council members rejected a proposal to build a $5 million temporary customs and immigration processing facility at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

They postponed until August a discussion on ordinance changes for short-term housing rentals.

City of Austin

The Austin Airport Advisory Commission signed off on construction of a $5 million temporary terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to expedite expected flights for this November’s Formula 1 race.

The commission voted yesterday to recommend a contract with Siemens Industry Inc. to construct “a temporary customs and immigration processing facility” at ABIA.

Although the terminal is billed as temporary, the contract with Siemens includes three year-long extensions for maintenance. In a presentation, Siemens bills the terminal as good for five years of operation.

KUT News

The Austin Airport Advisory Commission votes tonight on the construction of a $5 million temporary customs building at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The proposed add-on would open in November of this year, and is scheduled to close 24 months later. 

An airport spokesman says the extension is necessary to keep traffic flowing smoothly through the airport during this fall’s Formula 1 race and beyond. 

Interview: Mario Andretti on Formula One in Austin

Jun 21, 2012

Racing legend Mario Andretti recently sat down with the International Herald Tribune to discuss his role as “official ambassador” for the Circuit of the Americas racetrack. The track is set to host the Formula One Grand Prix this November. He discusses his hopes Austin’s track can serve as a permanent base for F1 racing in the U.S. “It’s not going to be: Put up a tent, have a show, take the tent down on Monday. And that’s a big difference,” he says. (Via The New York Times.)

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Get your helicopter permits in now.

That was one of the takeaways from a presentation to the Austin City Council yesterday, regarding planning underway for the Circuit of the Americas’ inaugural Formula One race this November – displaying the size, scope and expense of hosting the Grand Prix.

“We don’t know where to direct them,” council member Mike Martinez said of entrepreneurs inquiring about helicopter permits to chauffeur high-rolling F1 attendees. “They’re asking us questions that we’ve never heard of before, like where do we land a helicopter in downtown.”

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News; Photo by Lucia Duncan for KUT News; Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Initial Findings Announced for Lady Bird Lake

Tonight, a team of riverfront planners, landscape architects and green builders will share their vision for the future of Lady Bird Lake’s south shore.

The team has spent the last few days studying what they call “South Shore Central”—which is the area around Congress and First Street. The city says the area is lacking in infrastructure.

Austin won a grant for sustainable development that covers the consulting fees. The team toured the shoreline by land and by boat and listened to recommendations from Austinites.

Photo courtesy Circuit of the Americas

The roads of Southeastern Travis County will be flooded with people when Formula One holds its first Austin race this November. Travis County Commissioners heard from the public today about a mass gathering permit requested by the Circuit of the Americas for the event.

The track is being built near Elroy and there’s some concern over whether existing roads will be able to handle the race day traffic.

Race organizers want an attendance cap of 250,000 people over three days. Elroy resident Cathy Olive thinks the commissioners should lower that.

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

Round Rock Soldier Dies in Afghanistan

The U.S. Department of Defense has released the name of a Central Texas soldier who died in Afghanistan. Specialist Alex Hernandez III of Round Rock died Saturday in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade says Hernandez was found unresponsive in his room.

Alex Hernandez was based in Hawaii . He was 21.

Photo by Mose Buchele

Mayoral candidate Brigid Shea accused her opponent, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, of breaking city campaign donation rules in front of City Hall today. 

At issue are thousands of dollars Mayor Leffingwell received at an event attended by supporters of Austin’s Formula One racetrack, the Circuit of the Americas.

Shea says because he received those checks at the same event he should have listed the host as a “bundler,” someone who solicits donations for a candidate and hands them over to a campaign in a “bundle.”