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JUNE 20, 2012 6:20AM

Austin Formula 1 Expo (PhotoVideo Essay Car Porn)

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Red Bull1

As I've blogged before, Formula 1 is coming to Austin! As a way to stir up interest, a 2 day expo was held at the Austin Convention Center. Having already bought my (pricey!) ticket I wanted to see if I could find out more about the race. My first stop, however, was not at the Expo but at the track being built to the southeast of Austin.

Speed Limit
Wide open on Texas highways!

Track 812 Farm to market Road 812 leads you into the track. Roads leading into the track are sparse to say the least. Except for those owning Personal Seat Licenses, personal parking will not be permitted at the track. Everyone else will go through a shuttling system to get in.

Track Stands Finally I'm seeing some construction work being done. My previous trips down had only seen earth moving going on.

Track Hill 2

Track Store This little store just outside the track entrance hit the jackpot! Workers stroll over there all day long and it's landed right in the hotbed of activity for races. Surprised they don't tear it down and rebuild it into something nicer.

Land Sign Surrounding land sure is for sale!

Here's a short video of track construction:



COTA Sign

I got in early as I could to the Expo. Naturally, the track had a presence there. I listened as their salesman hawked the PSL option to anyone who would listen. From what I understand only 30% of the PSLs sold are local to Texas. F1 is a worldwide sport.

COTA Track2

COTA Crop My seat is in the grandstand there on the left at turn 12


Plenty of simulators were on hand. You could "drive" the actual track - if you were willing to stand in line! Some other F1 sims were also around to feed the endless appetite for racing fun.

Sim Line

Sim 2

Sim Row

I took a video snippet of the sims in action:



To take your own three laps around the circuit, check out Codemasters’ awesome video below:



Pretty cars were on hand to delight the eye, with Lotus having a heavy presence. The exotics added to the air of elitism and exclusivity that goes along with the Formula 1 scene.

Lotus Row Four Lotus in a row

Lotus Sign

McLaren This beastly McLaren with close to 600 bhp retails for about a quarter mil.

McLaren Engine

A few British vintage cars were on display as well.

Cobra Legendary AC Cobra

Cobra Dash

Lotus Esprit Front Gorgeous Lotus Esprit

Lotus Esprit Engine Car porn!

Rolls

One really cool feature of the event was the wall of Formula 1 images from over the decades from Sutton Images. You can purchase your own copy at their website. Spanning from the early Sixties right up to the present, they have an embarrassment of wealth of pictorial racing lore. I wanted to take the whole wall home with me!

F1 Wall Full

F1 Wall The great rivals Senna and Prost! No love lost there.

F1 Wall Art

You could also transpire your own pit stop, changing out an F1 tire just like the pros do with an air gun and the single nut attachment. Pit stops are crucial in F1 and are by no means to be taken for granted to be routine. Wheel nuts are improperly placed all the time, with tires sometimes flying off right in the pit lane as the driver attempts to exit.

Pit Stop

Pit Tools

Here's one guy's brave attempt at changing a tire (a good time in race conditions is under 4 seconds) :



A good stop can bring you victory!

Podium

But do you have the right stuff to be a driver or even a pit lane member? Take the agility test and find out.

Agility test

Random lights flash at various points and your reaction is tested. I taped a family trying it out.



I wandered around to various booths and displays.

F1 Shop

F1 Packages

K1 Girl Uh, nice go kart!

Another treat for me were some vintage Formula 1 cars from years past. I overheard these and others like it will be raced after qualifying the day before the race. I will probably stick around for that.

Old F1 Prost I was excited and surprised to find world champion Alain Prost's car. But this was not a championship car and was in fact a poor example placing no higher than sixth that season (1980). Next year, the legendary Ron Dennis took over McLaren and turned it into the powerhouse it remains to be to this day.

Old F1 Prost Slits

Old F1 Gilles More interesting was the late Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari. The display sign gave the pertinent info:

Ferrari 312-T5 (1980)
2991cc Ferrari Flat 12, 510 bhp@12,000
After winning the Constructor's Championship and finishing first and second in the World Drivers Championship in 1979, the team of Ferrari, Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve struggled in 1980. The 312 T5 was a make-shift ground-effects chassis hampered by the flat 12 cylinder engine which was never adequately developed. In truth, the car was a virtual spare-time effort while everyone concentrated on development of a new turbo-charged engine and car for 1981. The irrepressible Villeneuve was a joy to watch as he willed the uncompetitive car to the front with supreme skill and passion.

Best of all was Mario Andretti's championship Lotus from 1978. Still a very popular driver, he has been named ambassador for the Austin race.

Old F1 Mario

Lotus 79 (1978-1979)
2993cc Ford Cosworth V8, 475 bhp@10,800
This stunningly beautiful Lotus 79 followed a long tradition of break-through design by Colin Chapman. It was the first true "ground effects vehicle" which provided Mario Andretti with the perfect car with which to win the 1978 World Drivers Championship. Team mate Ronnie Peterson was second in the Championship and the team's six race wins earned another Constructor's Championship for Chapman. The Lotus 79 was the culmination of three years of effort by an R&D team led by Chapman. This together with Mario Andretti's enormous experience, intuitive sensitivity to his car's behavior and his dedication produced a car with conquering performance.

Old F1 Mario Front

Old F1 Mario Rear

7 time champion Michael Schumacher was represented by one of his winning Ferraris (no stat sheet on it).

Ferrari Schumie Front

Ferrari Schumie Dash Note the rain tires as opposed to the usual racing slicks

But a few more modern beasts were on hand too. The proud and rich name of Lotus has only recently returned to the Formula 1 circus and that makes me happy to see. Lotus was a pioneer in the sport when the rules and regulations were more wide open and they took innovation to the next level leaving tradtional powers flat footed. Now if we could only get Maserati back!

Lotus F1 Front

Lotus F1 Side

The real treat for many, though, would be the Red Bull car greeting visitors right as they entered the room. Red Bull has dominated the sport recently, winning the championship for the past two years and still in hot contention this year.

Red Bull2

Red Bull

I'll leave you with a 360 video of the Red Bull car. All in all a fun event though it begged to have more of an official F1 presence to it. The race iself in November is expected to cause chaos in the Austin area with hotel rooms already going for several hundred dollars per night. Celebrities, actors, rock stars - you name it - will be on hand for what promises to be a landmark event in racing. Can't wait! See you there!

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Comments

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Full set of pics can be seen here.
This sounds like an amazing day, especially for a Formula 1 fan. I think that your photos of the construction of the track were not only interesting, but will have real historical value someday. Thank you for sharing this.
Thanks, Alysa. Le Mans is on my bucket list so see you there!
Bunch of lamers lefties here...
That's the spirit Harry-O. I knew someone who pretends to be as embittered as you do by the entire Amerikan ethos and the worship of domination and technology would finally 'come out of the closet.' I'm looking forward to your next pictorials of drones and air strikes, becuz if Amerika wants to keep the excesses of decadent Grand Prix races then the military machine to secure world domination and all the remaining oil is de riguer, you closet kapitalist...wink
Ha ha ha...I'm falling out of my bathchair at yer hypocrisy...chortle, dubble wink
CA, no matter how much you hero worship me I will never be your savior. And for the record, I've always been a liberal, never a leftist, moderate or right wing nut. All political people are conservative by nature because they disconnect from reality (a specialty of yours!).
I knew I shouldn't have bought the silver McLaren , dammit! Great post CG that is going to be some place. If I leave now and go 80 mph all the way, I'll be there in a few minutes.
Scanner, it will be bigger than the Indy 500! At least in year one anyway.