Austin GP reveals backer and opens website

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The organisers of the 2012 United States Grand Prix have launched their official website and revealed details of one of the race’s backers.

Red McCombs, owner of a car dealer group in Texas and previously named one of the 400 richest men in America, has invested in the project.

He has been involved in other sports previously, formerly owning the San Antonio Spurs and the Denver Nuggets (both basketball teams) and the Minnesota Vikings (an American football team).

A site for the 2012 race has also been chosen which you can see below:

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Austin Grand Prix site map (click to enlarge)

According to the promoters:

The track will be located on a site of approximately 900 acres in southeast Austin along the SH 130 corridor near FM 812. The majority of land involved in the project is formerly known as the Wandering Creek property.

Tavo Hellmund, the man behind the project, said:

This project has been a tremendous. But for at least the next decade, Texas will host a global sporting event on an annual basis in a new world-class multipurpose facility. Knowing that our hard work is being rewarded and that my dream is becoming a reality is extremely gratifying.

It is a great honour to have Red McCombs and McCombs Partners as our primary investor and partner. Red’s success in business and the professional sports arena is legendary. Working together as a team and under Red’s direction, we will ensure that this project will make all Texans very proud and will benefit our great State.
Tavo Hellmund

McCombs added:

Bringing Formula 1 back to the United States represents the opportunity of a lifetime and one that any city in the world would want. The size and scope of an F1 event is comparable to hosting a Super Bowl and will bring substantial economic benefit to Austin, San Antonio and the entire State of Texas.

We know Tavo has a clear vision for developing Formula 1 into a major event with year-round opportunities. Over the past few years, he has built a solid business foundation and has assembled a great team – one we are proud to be part of. We are ready to roll-up our sleeves and work alongside Tavo to make this project a huge success.
Red McCombs

Read more: F1 to race in Texas, USA in 2012

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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81 comments on “Austin GP reveals backer and opens website”

  1. Closest view i can get drom a road on streetview.

    All i can say is, its certainly flat.

    Shame theres no roads on streetview closer to the site.

    Still, its flat.

    Im gonna go gander on MSN maps, they have birds eye views

    1. If you look at the height lines the eastern half is well below 500ft and right behind the western end its up to 600ft. No mounains, but enough to work with.

      i am looking forward to having the small lake in the middle having some nice corners around it (or a glass tunnel going under it!)

      1. If you go to Bing maps and zoom in you can look around with the bird’s eye aerial view. The “lake” looks like a scummy pond, the entire area looks like desert, and the homes around the perimeter are old squalid trailers, falling down barns, etc. What a lovely setting for a world class event! Here’s the pond:

        1. No doubt that will be cleared away during construction.

      2. And you have to remember that an elevation change of 100ft. will give the circuit one of the biggest elevation changes on the calendar.

  2. I haven’t found any mention of track layout on their page, I guess Tilke hasn’t decided yet. The vicinity of the airport will help to eliminate noise complaints.

    Is the area where they will build the track flat or is there some elevation change? I hope the former…

    1. The track layout hasn’t been released because they want to show it to the FIA and get approval for it first. That’s scheduled for September. Apparently they have the basic layout all set, and they’re in the process of tweaking a few corners to make them more challenging.

      1. What A Bunch of Ball Ox
        28th July 2010, 3:20

        Tavo has repeatedly insisted that there will be elevation changes. Time will tell…

        1. Looking at the topographical map, there are elevation changes of over thirty metres on it. That would give the circuit the fourth-greatest vertical change on the calendar. Spa is the clear leader with over one hundred metres in changes, but the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit is a distant second with fifty-five. Suzuka is third with forty metres of elevation. For comparison’s sake, Fuji is the circuit with the closest change in elevation at thirty metres. Circuits like Bahrain have just eighteen, whilst Shanghai is at a lowly six metres.

  3. Flavio Bonacordi
    27th July 2010, 17:22

    Tell me is not Hermann Tilke that will design this new track. I don’t know what is the agreement between Tilke and F-1… but all his circuits are boring. I will give a idea. Ask for the current pilots to scratch a circuit. Without any intention. Grab all the drafts and try see the common elements like long straights and others. And present that to the pilots! Discuss with them. They know how to create a solid layout with a lot of overtake opportunities. I’m very interested about this layout. Wide track, like, 5 cars wide, to promote and request battle between them. Let’s wait and see.

      1. Flavio Bonacordi
        27th July 2010, 18:05

        I see, but taking a look in the Aneexe O we can find the text “The shape of the course in plan is not subject to restrictions,
        although the FIA may recommend changes in the interests of
        good competition and from practical necessity.
        The maximum permitted length for straight sections of track is
        If the circuit is intended for FIA Championship, Trophy or Cup
        events, the length should be calculated to satisfy the minima
        stipulated in Supplement 2. It is recommended that the length of
        any new circuit should not exceed 7 km.”
        As you can see. it is a RECOMMENDATION! By the way, I hope Tilke come up with a brilliant idea for this circuit. Obeying the FIFA rules to create a very nice show and a pleasure race for the drivers.

        1. Well, to be picky the FIFA rules would lead to a very green track.

          1. FIFA rules would also result in drivers having to re-take their pit stops because the referee didn’t see it.

    1. i disagree with that, sepang, shanghai, and istanbul always produce great racing with overtaking, but singapre, abu dhabi, bahrain are complete jokes, these tracks are awful and so much better could have been done.

      looking forward to the korean gp though as this looks interesting.

  4. Wow, it’s green! I always imagined Texas as deserty and beige-brown.

    I hope the track is like the A1 ring – fast! I want really fast racing that will entertain the American’s who will make up large percentage of the crowds. Hermann Tilke should make his track more natural with sweeping straights and fast curves rather than geometric rubbish that is Long straigh, hairpin!!

    As for the backer, the name Red reminds me of a trucker who appeared on the Simpsons once, surely that’s a nickname!

    1. Texas is huge. The eastern portion of TX is like the southeastern US, very green and lush and hot. the western portion of TX is like the southwestern part of the US, very brown, dry, semi-mountainous, and hot….

      1. Texas scenery changes quite a bit.It is about 280,000 square miles.(about 5 1/2 times the size of England)

    2. Hmm, I was just going by the 2 sateliete pics at the top of this page and there is a lot of gree there :P

  5. Google Earth says there is about 35 metres difference in altitude. The eastern side is higher than the western side.

    1. That would fit with Helmund stating the track will have about 100 ft height difference before.

      1. And to a Dutchman like me, that is enormous so I am happy :-p

        1. It looks like this: is the area where most of the elevation is after looking in Google Earth. Basically from the pond due South through that brushy area appears to be where the 30m of elevation happens, the pond being the lowpoint. It seems pretty flat on the other side of the pond, most of the elevation being South and Southeast of it.

          1. I concede about greenery mate, it is brown and earthy just like I thought!! See it much clearer on Bird eye: is

          2. But once they put in the track they’ll landscape all around it, irrigate the heck out of it, and it’ll be as green as a golf course around there. Texans love their lawns!

          3. They won’t irrigate the heck out of it because this is Austin. Austin is an Environmental city and with that the tree huggers will make sure that Tavo doesn’t use to many unnecessary resources. Trust me, it’ll be Green but in an Enviromental way. It will have solar panels, rain collection devices and such to please those who don’t want any resources or environments destroyed. The community has already spoke up about those nasty internal combustion engines.

  6. I hope they success from the project & they make a good track there, last thing I don’t want is another Tilke track.

  7. Honestly i am glad they have the deal for the mayority of the land ready and the largest backer is known to us. I dont know much about him apart from what is on their website, but it seems he knows bussiness, property investments, cars and has been succesfully investing in sports as well as being in the top 400 of rich people in the US. Sounds good enough for me.

    Now we want to see a track design, please.

  8. Charles Carroll
    27th July 2010, 18:05

    Red McCombs.

    Yeah, I remember his tenure with the Vikings…

    Needless to say this should be entertaining. Perhaps Jerry Jones of the Cowboys with his billion-dollar stadium will throw some money at it too.

    1. Yeah, I remember his tenure with the Vikings…

      Anything we should know about? Not a sport I’m familiar with…

      1. HewisLamilton
        27th July 2010, 18:31

        The thing that I remember from when he owned the Vikings was that he was trying to have a new stadium built but could not make this happen. He threatened to sell or move the team. Three years later, he sold the team.

        1. Charles Carroll
          27th July 2010, 18:52

          And then when he sold the team, he had a huge press conference patting himself on the back for selling the team to the league’s first black owner.

          Then he sold it to a white guy instead at the last moment.

          He is a classy guy…

          1. Sounds like he will be best mates with Bernie then

      2. Charles Carroll
        27th July 2010, 18:47

        Red bought the team, with lots of promises, and proceeded to threaten the city every year for a new stadium. He stated that if the tax payers were not up for it, he would move the team to Texas. He also was responsible for hiring one of the worst coaches in franchise history, who later indulged in unethical behavior (though not as seedy as the players at the time partaking in sex cruises on local lakes).

        All in all, Minnesota fans don’t miss him.

        1. Charles Carroll
          27th July 2010, 18:51

          I think this quote summed him up best:

          “Demanding greatness while financially handcuffing his team”

          I really hope things go well for the US GP, but I have a feeling he will promise much, demand much, but not “put up” much in terms of money.

          It will be lowballed and, if it happens, will not be what it should be.

          1. just what any sport needs: another al davis.

        2. The coach in question…Mike Tice, or someone else?

          1. Charles Carroll
            27th July 2010, 21:31

            Mike “everything is for sale!” Tice.


  9. One thing is clear – if F1 really wants to win over American fans, this cannot fail.

    1. Flavio Bonacordi
      27th July 2010, 18:13

      Agreed… and also.. I can predict Austin as a new “home” for the new USA F1 Team that is trying to enter in F1.

      1. Except that most of the existing infrastructure to set up a race team is in North Carolina I believe.

      2. For anyone interested in the story of one of the most avant-garde and visionary racing teams ever, check out the CHAPARRAL story — all from Texas! they invented ground effect

        so there you go – Flavio has some historical precedents to back his claim

        1. It might be interesting for Keith to bring up a feature of the Chaparral Texas team, now that we are talking about Texas and motor racing

          1. Interesting. It would be great if there were a US team based near the US track.

        2. Yep a truly innovative team, way ahead of their time. The first in the modern era with wings and auto gearboxes, but not ground effect as far as I am aware…. unfortunately they suffered the common problem of almost all innovators, there results never quite matched their promise as they broke down far too often.

          Very nice to be reminded of them

          1. The Chaparral had in the back part, two 17 inch fans powered by a landmower engine, and the extraction of air produced a phenomenal bround effect.
            Th also invented the movable F-DUCT ! they already had it working in the 60s or 70s

      3. i’ll bet you a dollar carrol shelby tries to fill his pockets, once the heavy lifting is done, of course.

  10. Adam Cooper gives a bit more insight on who Red Mccombs is. No pearls like the story with the black buyer etc. i just read above though.

    1. Charles Carroll
      27th July 2010, 20:07

      Part of it was Reggie Fowler’s fault, since he didn’t actually have the funds, nor had he reported any taxable income despite bidding $600 million for the franchise.

      Red played it up for the media, but he knew that it was never going to work, and sold it off to Zygi quietly.

      1. How nice to hear about shrewd buisinessment. So Reggie was a bit lik Stefan GP there?

  11. There is a (supposed) track map shown at Looks fairly interesting.

    1. It’s a fake, a mock-up done by a fan. Adam Cooper confirmed as much – the real circuit layout won’t be released until after it is presented to and approved by the FIA in September.

      1. I had a feeling that it could be bogus. Oh well. So much for that scoop!

        1. Well, given that Hellmund kept such a tight lid on the identity of Red McCoombs and the location at Wandering Creek, I expect that the circuit will be kept under wraps until he and no other decides to release it.

  12. Suzie, just keep the purse closed and dont hand out any money until they present you the plans for a nice ondulating fast track. Make them move some earth around so that there are some elevation changes. There is plenty of earth in Texas to move around.
    Maybe a replica of some old historic European track, with irregular radious corners derived from public roads, etc.

  13. I live in Austin and I can tell you that it’s green. The desert doesn’t get started until you go to West Texas. It is starting to look more of a real thing instead of a fantasy. I hope it does work out especially since the USF1 debacle. All I can say is, I’ll be there for the inaugural race.

    1. Thanks Spinmonkey. Anything else you can tell us about what’s going on there? Any public reaction to the race yet?

      1. Keith, check out A fan run site from an Austin based fan who was at the press conference.

    2. i’ll be making the trip from boston to austin in 2012. i’ll bring the sam adams, you bring the BBQ :)

      1. I’ll be heading down from Seattle most likely.

        1. good, bring coffee

      2. dyslexicbunny
        28th July 2010, 15:43

        But they’ve got Shiner Bock!

        I’ll be headed from somewhere. Hopefully the place where I have a job. Atlanta if I’m a failure and still haven’t finished grad school. North Carolina if everything else fails.

        I’m a ginger. I’ll bring sunscreen and some shade tents.

      3. f1yankee and anybody else planning on coming down to Austin, come on down, we have Six Street, plenty BBQ and Tex-Mex, Round Rock donuts and a lot of micro-breweries.

    3. Hey all, I’m from Austin as well and drove around the site today and snapped a few pics. Decided not to go climbing fences, so these are mostly from surrounding roads and they don’t do justice to the elevation change which is pretty noticeable. Mostly slopes upward from west to east with the eastern side being a bit of a ridge with a very nice view of the lower part of the property.

      Here are a few pics if anyone is interested:

      1. Very nice work! Thanks for the pics! It really is much greener than the aerial shots look like. Those must be from a different season.

        1. We’ve had a good amount of rain this year, so things are pretty green. In addition to the main west to east slope, which is probably where the 100 ft elevation change comes in, there is quite a bit of gentle roll to the area. Not the sort of thing that looks impressive in a picture, but will have a large impact to a race track.

      2. Thanks BiffMan, looks quite green and that first shot give a very good impression of the sloping terrain.

      3. Great stuff thanks BiffMan

  14. It’s very nice to see some firm and realistic facts coming out, it’s starting to look much more promising. Perhaps my total scepticism about this race ever happening may even be proved wrong.

  15. what i really like the most is that everybody here wellcomes the idea of a US grand prix.

    1. Where is “here”? Austin, Texas or the USA in general.

  16. Welcome to Texas. I hope ya’ll come down and say hey. I’ve been living in central Texas since 1967 and this is the biggest thing that has ever happened (sports wise anyway). Austin and central Texas is a wondeful place to live and I’m really looking forward to seeing F1 live.

    Here’s the track, I hope. It has 17 turns and is between 3.75 – 4.00 miles long, which would make it one of the longest on the circuit.

    The airport is close by and there is a major toll road right next to the purposed site. We’re pretty flat here but I understand it has at least a 100ft elevation change in the property. I’m saving my dollars now.

    1. I think that’s a fake. Sounds like they won’t be announcing the track until September.

      1. Adam Cooper has confirmed that it’s a fake.

        1. I’m not so sure it’s fake. I’ll bet you this is real close to the actual layout. Why else would they have it posted?

          1. If you look carefully it says ‘Designed by Phil Hammell’ or someone at the bottom of the image. Not Herman Tilke, so I think it’s probably a fake.

  17. His 1998 Vikings are probably the best team to not make the Super Bowl. Would have been an epic game against Elways Broncos. Instead their kicker missed a game clinching FG, his first miss that year. Atlanta tied the game and won in overtime. Elway killed Atlanta and retired (all from memory).

    I’m hoping IRL Boss Randy Bernard has already made a call to have an Indycar race there. Even if it is a support race I don’t think he would be affraid to put his cars on the same track. 2012 will be the first year with the new engine-chasis rules as well.

    1. Charles Carroll
      28th July 2010, 4:42

      GO PACK GO!

      Now that just blew my non-bias coverage about Red McCombs out of the water.

  18. Hi Keith,
    To give you a feel of the local (Austin) media, specifically talk radio, most of the comments are related to why the tax-payers are helping foot the bill for the estimated $250M expense. The State of Texas has a “Special Events” trust fund where they give money to special events like concerts, games, etc, and are using some of it for the races. The naysayers don’t like the idea of tax money going to this and that’s all they’ve been talking about lately. I say “screw ’em!” since this is exactly what the money is for. And they’re saying that the estimated influx of money from the event of $300M/year is way overstated. I just wanted you to hear what the local talk media is saying.

    1. Thanks again!

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