With less than 90 days until the United States Grand Prix race comes to Texas, construction at Circuit of the Americas near Austin is coming along at a rate that looks like it'll be done with time to spare. So now most of the attention has moved from the track to what will be happening in Austin over what will surely be one of busiest, craziest, and most important weekends in the city's modern history.
These two massive downtown public parties will both be free and will both have streets blocked in downtown Austin all weekend.
Important because Austin will be directly in the bullseye of the wealthy international Formula 1 community and that means money will be flowing to central Texas like never before.
Some of the rumors floating around are simply ridiculous, like $500 Super 8 motel rooms, while others are completely true, like $20,000 per week home rentals.
In fact, real estate professionals are preparing for a boom. They suggest Austin will see an explosion in residential and commercial real estate sales immediately following the race as international visitors decide they kind of like what they see and buy a place to stay.
"We're being told to keep the week after the race open," one broker said, asking to remain nameless for competitive reasons. "We think office space especially will start to sell very quickly."
While the race is at the track in the small town of Elroy, downtown Austin will be buzzing with F1 action. COTA is planning a huge party called Fan Fest and the epicenter will be at 3rd and Congress where a stage will show off huge international acts. The act getting most of the rumor-mongering centers around a certain former American Idol judge and '80s rock legend not named Jennifer Lopez or Randy Jackson.
From 2nd Street to 4th Street you'll be able to party like a wealthy European race car fan, while just a few blocks up Congress, Paul Carrozza of Run Tex is leading the charge to create "Experience Austin," an eight-block party featuring the best of Austin. Each block — between 8th Street and 11th Street, from Colorado to Brazos — will host a different theme such as Green Living, Keeping It Weird and International Culture.
"We want to show off the best of Austin for everyone planning to come to town," explained Carrozza.
These two massive public parties will both be free and will have streets blocked downtown all weekend. Officials promise to try and keep Ceasar Chavez, 6th Street and 7th Street open, although whether any cars will actually be moving is another question.
Fan Fest will be open from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Nov. 16; from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Nov. 17, and from 10 a.m. on Nov. 18 to approximately 1 a.m. on Nov. 19.
- The epicenter will be 3rd and Congress Ave.
- Formula 1 cars will be on display, as well as racing simulators and other activities appropriate for the entire family.
- There will be both local live music acts and national “top 40” style acts.
- The website austinfanfest.com will be online soon with all the information
Experience Austin is being organized by Run Tex and will be open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- Based on ticket sales. Circuit of the Americas estimates 85 percent of the visitors will be from the United States with the majority of foreign visitors will be from Mexico, and are likely to have been to the United States before.
- Most visitors are expected to come to Austin for the entire week not just race weekend.
- The city expects traffic congestion to be similar to what its like during the music portion of SXSW.
- 6th Street may be closed earlier than on normal weekends, even though there are no specific events planned on 6th Street. This will be due to excessive pedestrian traffic on 6th Street, and will be done at the Austin Police Department’s discretion.
On the racing front, Formula 1 is in the midst of its summer break. Racing begins again Aug. 31.