When it was announced that Austin would play host to the U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of Americas in 2011, many folks responded with, "Cool. But what does that mean?" Though it may seem like a glamorous activity for the world's richest playboys (which it certainly can be), Formula 1 also has a real economic impact on Austin and our travel, lifestyle, entertainment and leisure industries.
In order to prep for race weekend, which roars into town October 31-November 1, we're gathering the surprising stats and interesting facts to shed light on Austin's most glamorous — and most enigmatic — event.
Last year, 250,325 people descended on Austin to partake in three days of partying, concerts and, of course, racing. According to USA Today, those attendees brought an estimated $400-$500 million regional economic impact. (Figures from COTA place it around $548 million.) By comparison, SXSW 2014 brought in $315 million over 10 days.
The 3.4 mile long COTA track consists of 20 turns, including 11 left and 9 right — and it runs counterclockwise. For the U.S. Grand Prix, drivers must complete 56 laps around the track. That translates into 191.63 miles of driving and includes an elevation of 133 feet.
In 2012, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel set a lap record, driving the 3.4 miles in 1 minute, 39.347 seconds. When Vettel won in 2013, he made history yet again as the first driver to win eight consecutive races.
Food and booze
Formula 1 teams bring in 30 executive chefs from around the world for the U.S. Grand Prix. While those chefs are crafting homemade meals with locally-sourced ingredients for the drivers and their teams, COTA attendees are chowing down on more than 7 miles of hot dogs and drinking 32,736 gallons of beer during the weekend.
Food trucks are also in high demand. More than 60 food trucks, mostly local, descend on the track for the weekend, serving up everything from tacos to French fries. And speaking of French fries, more than 12,000 pounds of the snack are served up during the U.S. Grand Prix.