Op-Ed: At first blush, USGP track looks manufactured — which may be good

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I’m tempted to sit back and build up a lather about the new USGP track, the initial plans of which were released late yesterday.

After all, the Austin-based track is purposefully a mish-mash, a hodgepodge of other circuits: Silverstone, Hockenheim, Turkey. The Disney-fication of Formula 1. And there is this, from track destroyer designer Hermann Tilke, according to the Austin American-Statesman:

Hellmund said the cars themselves are more to blame for the single-file racing than the engineers.

“They’re so on the ragged edge that it’s hard to pass,” Hellmund said.

He said the best way to create such opportunities is with a good straightaway that leads to a turn with more than a 45-degree angle. Hellmund said that’s the plan for turns 11, 12 and 20.

“Create opportunities.”

As we’ve beat and beat and beat here at F1B, the great tracks — you know, such as the one Formula 1 just ran on last weekend — aren’t great because of any manufactured moments. They are great because of their quirks, their imperfections, their natural reactions to the terrain on which they are built.

The USGP track won’t be any of those things, at least judging from this plan.

So… time for us all to work ourselves into a lather? Time to organize a flash mob to get to Austin and tell Tavo Hellmund what’s what?


While that’s my first reaction, my second, slightly calmer one is: Hey, this is a truly American track.

I will refrain from a long diatribe about America, how it is filled with people from all over the world, how the mish-mash, the hodgepodge of people from other lands is what America is all about.

That and capitalism, and manufacturing, and taking from other people’s best ideas and building upon them.

That seems to be what’s going on with this track. And as long as the track doesn’t fall into the faux-Disney style that could be horrible (the inevitable falling off the cliff of the America I’ve all too briefly briefly described above), I think there just might be a way to promote this track as uniquely American.

It’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that — and all rolled together, the sum is better than the parts.

That is, if the actual track does live up to its promise. Meaning, there’s a lot left to worry about and wait on… and remain hopeful about.


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