by Brenda Hall
Formula 1 was a big success for Austin, Texas. I heard multiple languages being spoken on the streets Saturday evening after the first qualifying rounds. Ferrari’s and Porches had their runs on the track before the big race on Sunday. Restaurants were clogged, bars were pouring the spirits, and parties were everywhere.
Austin has been an international city for many years, going back to the early to mid 1990’s. During that timeframe, many large corporations had already or were in the process of setting up their headquarters and/or major branch offices here – companies like IBM, Dell, AMD, Motorola and others. They were all doing international business from the beginning. Of course, our university system with The University of Texas, McCombs School of Business, St. Edwards University and the Austin Community College all had opportunities for students to follow global business pathways.
It’s just that no one ever really thought of Austin as a being a “global” city as it is surrounded in a state with Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Those of us who live and work in Austin seldom think of ourselves as very ‘international’, but we are. The success of Formula 1 has brought global eyes to Austin. And now, Austinites are beginning to see the international vision as well. The vision and mission of bringing this major sport to our city is a large step in the right direction for Austin. I don’t know all the specifics of how our City Council, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Governor Rick Perry and others put it all together, but I’m very impressed with their efforts and commitment.
I’m looking forward to next year when, hopefully, we’ve ironed out some of the wrinkles with moving massive numbers of people into and out of this venue. Yes, I got very dirty (as well as my car) from parking over 2 miles from my seats at Turn 5. And yes, the shuttle buses need to be more organized and numerous. But at the end of the day, there’s nothing like the sound, excitement and exhilaration of watching professional drivers take their Formula 1 cars through time trials on a beautiful track — for the track is truly a wonder and very beautiful! It was a perfect “international” weekend in Austin.
Thank you Formula 1 fans for coming to town, enjoying our “global” city and giving us a successful event we can all be proud.