The Circuit of the Americas, just outside of Austin, Tex. is America’s first Formula One raceway.
Completed in October 2012, the 3.4-mile track has hosted the Formula One United States Grand Prix the last two years, as well as numerous other races, concerts, and events.
Formula One is the fastest class of single-seat auto-racing in the world, with cars achieving speeds of 220 mph. Formula One tracks are “road courses,” meaning that there are left and right turns, as well as straights. In contrast, NASCAR uses stock-cars (essentially modified sedans) and tracks that are usually ovals.
Early in 2012, photographer Tom Fowlks was sent by ESPN The Magazine to photograph the construction of the track. While there, he became fascinated with what he perceived to be a landmark moment in American sporting history. After the track was finished, Fowlks decided he had to photograph the finished track before it ran its first race in November 2012.
The sheer size of the track, covering around 1000 acres, made it difficult to photograph the entire track at once, even though Fowlks took the photos from a helicopter. Instead he focused on the numerous twists and turns in the track, capturing the interesting figures and patterns that comprise the track.
Fowlks shared some of photos with us here, but you can see more of his work at his website.
The track was designed by German architect and auto-racer Hermann Tilke, who has designed numerous high-profile Formula One circuits.
The track is capable of handling any class of racing, including cars, motorcycles, and cycling.
The track has a capacity of 120,000 spectators. The first Formula One race in 2012 had a near-capacity crowd of 117,429.
The track has 20 turns over an an elevation change of 133 feet.
The turns were made especially wide to encourage drivers to follow multiple racing lines.
Mario Andretti ran the ceremonial first laps on October 21st, 2012. He used a Lotus 79, the same car he drove to become the last American to win the World Drivers’ Championship in 1978.
The lap record is 1 minute, 39.347 seconds, set by Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing during the 2012 United States Grand Prix, the track’s inaugural race. Vettel actually came in second during the race.
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