With the historic first Austin 400 run and won, the questionof whether the category will head back to the Circuit of the Americas in 12 monthstime appears to have been answered in the affirmative.
“That’s the plan,” the president and CEO of the new $400million facility Steve Sexton told Australian media shortly before the third offour 100km races roared into action on Sunday afternoon (USA time) and somehours prior to an official three-day attendance of 68,000 being announced.
That figure seemed to tally with the expectations of thecircuit, although Sexton refused to reveal the budgeted crowd figure.
He did admit, however, that more fans would be expected asthe event was promoted to US audiences in coming years.
“Anytime we introduce a new product in the marketplace it isgoing to take some time to build awareness and take time to developpersonalities,” he added. “But the personalities in V8s, the drivers areincredible, and as we go through the years we will have the opportunity tobuild on that.
While the event is reportedly subject to a five-yearcontract, Sexton would only speak of a “multi-year” deal.
Sexton said record May heat, with both Saturday and Sundaytemperatures hovering near 100 degrees Fahrenheit, had hurt crowd numbers andthe revenue from the intake of alcohol and food at the circuit.
“We would always like to have more (ticket sales) whether itis V8s, MotoGP or what have you,” Sexton said.
“Our plan is to continue to develop the series and developthe personalities. We have a lot of work, not unlike we have a lot of work todo with MotoGP or ALMS (American Le Mans sports cars). It is going to take timefor each of those series; promote, promote, promote, so it is going to taketime.”
While no accurate figure was available, several thousand ofthe fans attending CotA were Australians, a factor that enabled the track togain state funding assistance for the event. However Sexton said that gatereceipts and “ancillary revenues” were a key to making the V8 project viable.
He said promoting a domestic Australian racing series to anAmerican audience would take effort but would be assisted by some ideas taken fromthe domestic rounds and adopted in Texas.
“You will see over successive years us develop more of anentertainment experience,” he said. “We did ok from the entertainmentperspective this year but we could do a lot more. I know in Australia V8Supercars is an event and that is what we want to portray.
“You have people who follow the V8s or motorsport as a coreaudience and we want to attract them. But the casual fan, especially in Texas,will come out for big events and appreciate a large scale experience.”
Sexton explained the reason CotA approached V8 Supercars tostage a round of the Championship was an attempt to diversify into a crowdpleasing motorsport that stood apart from mainstream circuit and speedway USofferings.
“Our goal is to try and find content or series that couldcome or be developed in North America. We have always championed ourselves asthe home for the world championships and premier international scale motorsports,of which we have three – V8 Supercars, MotoGP and F1 – to differentiate ourselvesfrom other circuits in the country and I think we have done that.”