Work has begun on the all-new F1 circuit planned for the Texan city of Austin, maintaining momentum that sees the ambitious project remain ahead of schedule and safely on course for its planned debut in 2012.
With other high-profile F1 construction projects - notably the Korea International Circuit at Yeongam - cutting it perilously fine in terms of being fit and ready to host a grand prix, Austin promoter Tavo Hellmund has achieved a personal aim of seeing a ground-breaking ceremony take place before the end of 2010 as constructor HKS began work between Christmas and the New Year.
The 20-turn 5.5km track was approved by the FIA in November, after final designs were submitted two months ahead of schedule, and the start of construction work - which will also include various additional facilities, including a visitor centre, kart track and driving club - should finally expunge any lingering doubts over the project's viability. The USGP is scheduled to return to the F1 calendar in late 2012 - it is currently three years since the last race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - with the surprise choice of Hellmund's Austin dream seeing off potentially more eye-catching hosts such as New York.
Finally confirmed for the Wandering Creek area on the outskirts of the Texan state capital, the circuit will feature dramatic elevation changes as part of its layout, with F1's favoured circuit designer Hermann Tilke charged with producing an exciting venue for both competitors and fans alike. Austin Commercial, a subsidiary of Austin Industries and one of the largest construction companies in Texas, has been selected as general contractor, with HKS Inc - which most recently completed the construction of the impressive Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and showcases other NFL projects in Indianapolis, Minnesota and Washington Redskins, as well as being linked to the proposed new home of Liverpool FC in the UK - joining the German-based Tilke Engineers & Architects in overseeing the build programme.
"Never before has a cast been assembled in motorsports history that has the combined wealth of experience and knowledge that HKS and Tilke bring to this project," Hellmund insisted, "Having industry leaders in sports facility architecture and design raises the bar for future motorsports facilities in this country and around the world. We are pleased that a collaboration of this calibre will take place in Texas.
"HKS' leadership in the design and construction of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington — the largest and most technologically advanced NFL stadium in the world — is a testament to the level of skill, experience and attention to detail they will bring to this facility."
Austin Commercial will be responsible for day-to-day control of the construction site and management of vendors and sub-contractors, and brings previous experience of sports venue construction – including indoor arenas and stadia as well as race tracks - while HKS and Tilke will lead the local and international team assembled for the construction.