Architectural firm HKS Inc., Dallas, will join Germany-based Tilke Engineers and Architects in the design and construction of a $250-million Formula One racing complex in Austin, Texas. Tilke is leading the project; HKS will serve as architect of record. Austin Commercial, Dallas, a subsidiary of Austin Industries, will serve as the general contractor for the racetrack venue.
The 3.4-mile track, with its 133 ft of elevation change and 20 turns, is slated to host the U.S. Grand Prix through at least 2021. Developers say work on the 900-acre complex is expected to start in December. The project includes a visitors’ driving/riding experience, conference building, motorsports club, kart track and a multipurpose fan area.
HKS, an international firm, is known for its work on the futuristic $1.2-billion Dallas Cowboys stadium, which opened in 2009. Walter P Moore, Houston, served as structural engineer on the football arena and will also work on the new Austin facility. Tilke, which has designed or redesigned the majority of F1 racing tracks, is responsible for such projects as the Bahrain International Circuit, Turkey’s Istanbul Park and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.
The HKS and Tilke collaboration is making motorsports history, according to Tavo Hellmund, chair of the U.S. Grand Prix. He said the “wealth of experience and knowledge” the firms bring to the project “raises the bar for future motorsports facilities in this country and around the world.” The fan experience is vital, he added, and he hopes the new facility will offer amenities similar to those in new NFL stadiums and other recently built sports facilities. "Racing hasn't done for the average fan what these new stadiums have," Hellmund said.
In terms of progress, Hellmund said the design needs some tweaking. For instance, the track layout is close to accurate, but some corner radiuses will be changed to speed them up. He notes that the project is bound to have some bumps in the road. He compared it to Fort Worth's Texas Motor Speedway, which was built in the mid-1990s and is now a premier track and NASCAR favorite. "It was one nightmare to another for the first three years,” he said. “Now everyone is happy.”