Formula One has been absent from the United States since 2007, but fear not, open-wheel devotees — it's coming back! Starting in 2012, you'll be able to see some sleek, smooth Euroracing in the motorsports hotbed of ...
... Austin, Texas. Yeah, I'm not sure why, either.
Actually, it's pretty obvious why. F1 has tried for years to get back into the U.S., most recently through a convoluted and controversial plan to put a race in New Jersey. At last, though, Formula One president Bernie Ecclestone has brokered a deal to bring a race to Texas under a deal that runs from 2012 to 2021.
Now, you're most likely unfamiliar with Austin's open-wheel history, and there's a good reason for that: there is none. There's no track, no race infrastructure, nothing. Austin is going ground-up for this endeavor, which would be the first track built in the United States specifically for Formula One. Previous events in Las Vegas, Phoenix and other locations used existing city streets, and Indianapolis, which hosted the event from 2000 to 2007, ran a route through Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
But the track is apparently going to be privately financed, which is a huge deal in this age of soak-the-taxpayer stadium arrangements. Formula One, which has long maintained a love-hate relationship with the U.S. — as in, they hate us until they need us, and then they love us — will hopefully put on a product more fan-friendly than the last few times a Grand Prix was run on U.S. shores, in which the racing was largely an open-wheel parade.
There are many, many hurdles to clear before the flag drops in Austin, and as we know, F1 cars don't do so well with hurdles. Still, anything that gets more racing rolling is all right with me. Best of luck, lads.
(Also, please note that the above image is from Iron Man 2 and is in no way a visual metaphor for our take on the chances of a Grand Prix race in Austin succeeding.)