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Austin Track Adds Supercars

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 30 2011

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

The door-banging action of Australia’s popular V8 Supercar Series is the latest schedule addition to the Circuit of The Americas under construction in Austin, Texas.

V8 Supercars and Circuit of The Americas (COTA), along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, announced a five-year agreement Thursday to bring the globe-trotting series to Travis County beginning in 2013.

“The addition of V8 Supercars into our lineup at Circuit of The Americas will add to what we already know will be a rich and exhilarating fan experience,” Steve Sexton, president of COTA, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled the racing world is so excited about our facility. Austin is poised to become the premiere North American destination for international motorsports. In addition to hosting the four-wheel and two-wheel world championships, the United States will now enjoy the world’s best touring car series here in Austin.”

The V8 Supercars Series is considered among the fastest growing motorsports in the world. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) sanctioned it as an international series this year, enabling the organization to compete at up to six destinations outside of Australia and New Zealand each year. Already popular in Australia and New Zealand, the series will be making its inaugural visit into North America at Circuit of The Americas.

COTA – the first purpose-built Grand Prix facility in the United States – already has secured 10-year agreements to host the Formula One United States Grand Prix™ beginning in 2012 and MotoGP World Championship™ beginning in 2013. The track’s signature element will be a 3.4-mile (5.5-kilometer) circuit with capacity for 120,000 fans. SPEED™ will televise the two, 200-kilometer (124-mile) V8 Supercar races live throughout North and South America.

The agreement with V8 Supercars capped a significant 24-hour period for COTA’s management team, led by Tavo Hellmund, chairman of F1 United States and managing partner of Full Throttle Productions, LP. Tuesday evening the Austin City Council voted to officially endorse the F1 United States Grand Prix. The 5-2 vote in favor of the event came after lobbying by representatives of COTA to craft an environmental agreement.

The endorsement made the project eligible for $25-million a year in state subsidies to pay the rights fees to Formula One Management to schedule an F1 event in Texas. To receive the state money from the Special Events Trust Fund, a political entity must organize a committee to oversee the expenditure of funds. The council’s endorsement meant the organization will be formed, allowing the state comptroller to begin disbursing funds after final approval.

According to terms of the environmental deal, COTA will pay up to $15,000 for carbon offsets, such as planting trees, and invest $5 million for on-site research into green technology, among other projects.

“I can’t describe how excited we are to bring the V8 Supercars race to such a spectacular facility,” said Tony Cochrane, chairman of V8 Supercars. “With Formula One racing, MotoGP and now V8 Supercars, it’s obvious Circuit of The Americas will be a top-notch destination that houses the best racing on earth, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.

“We have expanded V8 Supercars’ geographical influence over the past few years with plans to stage up to six races each year to complement our existing events in Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. Our entrance into the United States marks a new day for the series and we’re excited for Americans to experience what has made V8 Supercars so popular in many places around the world.”

Formerly the Australian Touring Car Championship, the current series was devised in 1993 and branded as “V8 Supercars” in 1997. The cars are based on modified versions of Australia’s two most popular and most rivaled passenger automobiles _ the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore associated with General Motors. All V8 Supercars run on 85 percent CSR Ethanol, a renewable fuel bi-product of the sugar refining process.

V8 Supercars continues as one of Australia’s largest sports both in attendance and television viewership. The 2011 championship consists of 15 events across Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East, as well as racing at the F1 Australian Grand Prix™.

In 2010, approximately 1.8-million people attended V8 Supercars events, including V8 Supercars’ 20 millionth spectator at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. Every race is telecast live on the Seven Network across Australia and the TV3 Network in New Zealand. In addition, more than 130 countries telecast V8 Supercars live, as-live or on delay, dependent upon time zone and programming. The SPEED™ network in North and South America and ESPN Star throughout Asia are among the sport’s major international broadcasters.

The championship’s world-renowned races include the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Armor All Gold Coast 600 and the season-ending Sydney Telstra 500 on the streets of Olympic Park in Sydney.

Backing for the sport is at an all-time high with annual sponsorship in excess of $150-million across the 18 teams and championship series. V8 Supercars’ major sponsor is Australia’s largest Internet service provider, Telstra BigPond. Its sponsors include multinational companies, with FMGC partners becoming increasingly prominent. Etihad Airways recently became the official international airline of V8 Supercars.

“While Texas has established itself as the nation’s place for business, it’s quickly becoming the nation’s place for big sporting events, as well,” Gov. Perry said. “V8 Supercars now joins Formula One, MotoGP, NASCAR, the NFL, NBA, NCAA and USTA among the many that have chosen Texas to host major events in the last few years. This is more good news for the Lone Star State, and will provide a significant boost to the economy of Central Texas.”

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 30 2011
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