On Saturday, about 5,000 runners made a go of the Circuit of the Americas racetrack southeast of Austin for the first ever Formula Run race. (Yes, people in Austin do that kind of thing.) I’m no runner myself, but considering the elevation changes at that track, this was probably a lot of fun as well as one hell of a workout.
But that’s not the story here today. The story is that if this foot race is any indicator at all, traffic for the U.S. Grand Prix the weekend of Nov. 16 will be a massive, massive clusterfuck.
As reported by Austin American-Statesman editor and F1 reporter Dave Doolittle, heavy traffic congestion at State Highway 130 (the insane 85 mph toll road we’ve written about) and FM 812 (the small county road leading up to the track) forced participants to wait more than an hour and a half. Many runners showed up after the race started.
Keep in mind that was only for 5,000 people — what’s it going to be like when some 120,000 people show up for F1?
A spokesman from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, whose deputies were directing traffic, told the Statesman that the heavy fog was part of the problem, but some runners reported seeing no deputies directing traffic.
Sheriff’s and circuit officials say they’ll use this situation as a learning experience for race day, where they will have more traffic controls in place but still expect travel times to be in the three hour neighborhood. They will also be bussing fans from downtown and East Austin.
More telling to me is that SH 130, the toll road, was backed up too. I wasn’t quite expecting that to happen because it hasn’t been used very heavily yet.
If you’re headed to Austin in a few weeks for the Grand Prix, you should check out the Statesman’s report. And plan to leave very, very early on race day and expect to take a bus.
Photo credit Statesman F1.