Sochi's next big thing: Russian Grand Prix

Sochi's next big thing: Russian Grand Prix

SOCHI, Russia – The Winter Olympic venues here popped up almost overnight, but what happens when the competition ends? In only three days, the Closing Ceremony will give way to the Paralympics. Then what?

There are actually clues to that answer in Olympic Park.

Along a path stretching from the Main Press Center toward the Olympic Flame, there are some raised stones. Those stones will soon serve as guides not for pedestrians, but for cars going 100-plus mph.

[Related: Watch a cat fall through the roof of $32 million Olympic arena]

The auto racing circuit will visit Russia this fall for the first time in a century when the country's first Formula 1 Grand Prix is held along public roads as well as throughout the Olympic Park.

The course will be the third-longest on the racing tour, at a little more than 3.6 miles. A third and final layer of asphalt will be laid after the Paralympics. A paddock has already gone up on the fringe of the park.

A layout and animation of the race can be seen in the video below.

The course will split the Bolshoy Ice Dome (where hockey is played now) and the Fisht Olympic Stadium (site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and FIFA World Cup games in 2018), then wind in a loop around the Olympic Park where the torch is currently lit.

Russia does have a history of auto racing.

The Russian Grand Prix was run in St. Petersburg in 1913 and again in 1914. Then World War I broke out and the racing circuit didn't return. Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed interest in bringing the sport back to his country beginning in 2001. This year's race is scheduled for October 12 on the 100th anniversary of the last Grand Prix.

The Russian government set aside nearly $200 million for the race, which of course is on top of the $51 billion delegated to the Games themselves.