The USGP in Austin

I had no where else to go with this thing I hastily wrote up last night, so here 'tis:

The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, new home of the United States Grand Prix, instantaneously makes America's F1 race one of the top three must-watch races of the entire season. F1's standing start rule makes the beginning of this race an uphill drag race which rises 133 feet for a fifth of a mile, and is raced by 24 cars, each with near as shouting to 800 horsepower at the rear-wheels.

There's a kilometer-long (.62mi) back straight on which the cars hit 220mph, and 20 turns over the rest of architect Hermann Tilke's track, which flows up and down over the contours of the land for 3.4 miles.

117,000 people attended to watch the first race at this track today, when Lewis Hamilton, driving for McLaren-Mercedes threw a wrench in Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Renaut's
plans to win the F1 Constructor's Championship on the day. Hamilton also made fans in the Ferrari pit, including hopeful champion-once-again, Fernando Alonso.

So it was that 21st century America got to enjoy the latest of it's favorite role, the spoiler. About a million people watching at home also got to enjoy the sight of the Grenadian Englshman donning a black stetson with yellow patches before accepting the trophy for a win at his second United States Grand Prix track; a statistic Hamilton will now share with Ayrton Senna, and no one else.

Senna had won two United States Grands Prix on the street courses in Detroit and Phoenix before his death in 1994, Hamilton his in 2007 at the last F1GP held on American soil (at Indianapolis), and now at the inaugural race in Austin, five years later.

The sense of occasion probably helped sell some tickets to the race this weekend, but the crowd seemed like a enthusiastic one, and could sometimes be heard above the cars' V8s, which, if you haven't watched a race in a while, sound less like a Corvette, and more like a passing artillery shell. Fans of F1 or fans of the accompanying party, what all the spectators got was excellent racing drama, played out on a track seemingly made to provide it. There are nine more United Sates Grands Prix scheduled for Austin, one a year until the contract's renegotiation in 2022. Formula One may have finally found a true, and more permanent, successor to Watkins Glen.

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