While the F1 fraternity has yet to sample the nascent Circuit of the Americas, it will no doubt be enthused by the positive feedback received from V8 Supercar driver Mark Winterbottom, who has already got a taste of the facility.

The Australian, who visited the Austin facility as part of a media tour, got to take a drive through the various completed sections of the 20-turn, 3.4-mile layout, and gave it a ringing endorsement. Piloting a Ford Mustang GT through the back portion of the course, between turns 5-12, the V8 frontrunner also played chauffeur to eager local journalists before giving his view of the circuit which will host the USGP in mid-November.

"The circuit's topography, including the dramatic changes in elevation, will make for some really fun racing and a great show for fans," Winterbottom claimed, "While I didn't get to drive the full circuit, the sequence of turns I did sample were fantastic, and I can't wait to come back and take a lap around the finished racecourse."

Winterbottom also stopped off in Austin and checked out local eateries and entertainment hot spots, shopped for cowboy boots and hats, and even paid a call on Austin resident Jesse James, the internationally known hot rod designer and television celebrity, at James' Austin Speed Shop. The city, like the circuit, he reported, is sure to appeal to F1 folk and fans alike.

"Austin has a really cool vibe," was the Australian's verdict, "There's lots to see and do, and I think international visitors will find the city very sophisticated, yet laid back and welcoming. It's a great destination for motorsports enthusiasts and their families because there's something for everyone in terms of good food, great shopping, exceptional music and entertainment, loads of parks and recreational activities, and, of course, a purpose-built grand prix circuit that will host some of the best auto racing in the world!"

While there is still some doubt over the proposed MotoGP event at Circuit of the Americas, the V8 Supercars Championship remains on course to expand its international schedule to take in the venue in 2013.

The facility has this week announced a new partnership with motorsports marketing agency KHP Consulting, which will work with track organisers in the areas of marketing, public relations and guest services in the build up to its opening later this year, as well as the subsequent staging of the USGP on 18 November.

"The KHP team has proved to be a key resource for our staff as we prepare for our first F1 [race]," vice-president of public and community relations Julie Loignon, "Opening a new grand prix venue and preparing for the tens of thousands of race fans and national and international media representatives that will attend an F1 event takes careful planning and execution. KHP has significant expertise upon which our management team can draw, and the consulting firm's years of experience serving the F1 community will be invaluable to us as we move quickly towards our grand opening this fall."



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