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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Mayor talks about his trip to Formula 1 grand prix race
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 by Jo Clifton
Just back from Silverstone, England where he met with officials and viewed preparations for the Formula 1 grand prix race there, Mayor Lee Leffingwell told In Fact Daily, “ I have to say in all seriousness, when you’re starting up something of this magnitude, I think it would have been irresponsible not to take advantage of the opportunity to see that event in action.” Leffingwell returned from the 5-day trip Monday night.
The small town of Elroy in Southeast Travis County will be the site of Texas’ first F1 race on November 18. Organized by Circuit of the Americas, this will be the first grand prix race in the United States since 2007 when one was held in Indianapolis.
“You can’t imagine what (a grand prix race) is like until you see it, “ Leffingwell said. “It’s huge and it’s complex….It’s not like going to a football game. It’s a three-day event and there are going to be a lot of people there all three days,” he added.
The Mayor described traffic and transportation as his major concerns, stressing that the local event would have at least one major difference from the English race. “We have only 25,000 parking spaces and everybody else is going to have to come by public transportation.” That, he said, would perhaps cut down on the traffic snarls experienced by Silverstone racegoers last week.
In order to ensure that no one arrives without a ticket to park in one of those spots, Leffingwell said, the various authorities dealing with traffic— including Austin Police Department, Travis County and TxDOT officials –would set up checkpoints around the perimeter of the race track.
“If you’re driving out there in your car, you have to have a ticket before you can proceed beyond that. There’s not going to be going up to the box office and asking if they have a ticket.”
The Mayor said the most important thing the various jurisdictions can start doing right away is recruiting “a small army of volunteers.” The Silverstone race had such volunteers, he noted, because logistics are very complicated and race attendees are always looking for directions. “In Silverstone they had that small army in yellow vests. And without that I think there’s going to be mass confusion.”
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