How much will USGP in Austin help Austin?

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That’s the question posed by the Austin Business Journal in a piece that ran Friday.

And the answer? Some possible business-to-business “synergies,” as well as one pretty newsy tidbit that might have not struck the business journalist writing the piece as much as it would us:

Meanwhile, a local developer who showed the grand prix organizers East Austin land in 2008 for a mega complex said Austin race mastermind Tavo Hellmund planned for a mixed-use development that would incorporate clean-tech and high-performance research and development hubs, plus office and hospitality development.

Pete Dwyer, owner and president of Dwyer Realty Cos., said Hellmund told him F1 racing is moving towards electric power in the future, and Hellmund envisioned a master development centered around the track that would hold high-performance battery and fuel cell researchers.

Now that is definitely a twist on both a move toward cleaner energy by Formula 1 as well as how to monetize a race track.

I think the business development angle on the Austin race could be key. We all easily envision the track making extra money by hosting ALMS or IndyCar races, but why not as a test/development track for cutting-edge energy? Austin already is poised to be a player in this area. Although Tesla, for instance, just signed a deal to build new cars in Northern California, I bet other green tech companies interested in cars or other transportation would love such an arena.

And you know who else would? The federal government. Such centers much more easily attract federal grants and subsidies, which could help offset any local public money that goes in to a Formula 1 race.

And as Austin’s reputation in the motorsport world grows as the race continues, I’d think the attractiveness of that complex would grow, too.

Chalk this one up in the plus category for the grand prix to happen.


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