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Texas F1 Track On Pace

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 12 2012

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Despite nearly two inches of winter rain this month, excavation work at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, continues on-pace for the facility scheduled to play host to its inaugural Formula One United States Grand Prix in November.

“We are good. We are locked down and focused on our target date,” Scott Kahler, senior superintendent for general contractor Austin Engineering, said during the first of a series of conference calls.”Even with all the rain (1.75 inches) we’ve experienced over the last 10 days, good things are happening. We’re working through the water situation, but we’re on-track. We’re looking at maybe a week, week and-a-half (behind schedule). We’ve got a lot of dry weather we know is coming and we’re going to make that time up. We’ve worked a lot around this rain.”

Approximately 40,000 yards of concrete have been poured, with several “milestones” met. “We have a large section of the excavation dried-out and we’re doing good things from Turn 1 to Turn 11,” said Kahler, who estimated that 85 percent of the 3.4-mile, 20-turn layout has been excavated. “The last 15 percent is a deep excavation where we’ve got to cut in and sculpt-in the track.”

Kahler joked that workers “haven’t seen a rock since we got here. This is all in clay. That’s where we’re at. That would be from Turns 17 to 14.”

The race weekend is scheduled from Nov. 16-18. “We have an obligation on the FIA approval 60 days in front of the race event,” Kahler said. “We’ll be laying the last racing course prior to that. We’ll start some lower-level asphalt – we’ll have three layers – probably sometime in the April time frame of getting that going. We can then put other elements, like tire barriers and other FIA parts, into the track. We’ve got very tight specifications from our designer, the (Hermann) Tilke Group, and they’re on-site every day helping us through these issues.”

Additionally, the first of six zones of the pit paddock building stretching west to east has been topped- out, and construction on the media and medical buildings has begun. Kahler said the first zone will house race control, a key element with the sanctioning FIA.

Last Monday, two concrete slabs were poured for the media center and tilt-up walls placed atop those slabs. Concrete also has been poured for the medical center located near Turn 1. “We’ll see the erection of that building next week,” Kahler said. “Those buildings bookend the pit paddock building. We’re excited within the next two weeks the media building will be fully erected. We should then get the roof steel components installed, then turn our interiors on and get them started.”

Construction began early in 2011 on Circuit of The Americas, a $300-million sports and entertainment facility located 20 miles southeast of downtown Austin in Travis County on a 970-acre site two miles from Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Its signature element will be the road circuit with capacity for 120,000 fans. The track will feature elevation changes of up to 133 feet. COTA is billed as the first purpose-built Grand Prix facility in the United States designed for any and all classes of racing, from motor power to human power

Meanwhile, COTA’s Select Seating Waitlist closes on Monday, Feb. 13 – last chance to be one of the first to buy Select Seating. A one-time, refundable $100 deposit secures a place on the list and goes toward seat purchase for all events at the facility. For more information, go to www.circuitoftheamericas.com.

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 12 2012
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