They do things big in Texas – but Formula One stands out

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More and more, we’re seeing Texas play host to the biggest events in sports. But out of all of those major gatherings, the Formula One United States Grand Prix at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas may be the most unique.

In a land that celebrates its Wild West past at every opportunity, Formula One’s futuristic style of racing is trying to take root and make a permanent home for itself in the United States, once and for all. Enabling its efforts is the city of Austin, which has long been known for Hook ‘Em Horns and good live music but is now creating a more international identity for itself through F1.

“I know there are people around the world who may not have ever heard of Austin who now know it exists,” Austin Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Mike Rollins tells NBCSports.com national columnist Joe Posnanski in the latest edition of “The Big Read.”

“We never could have paid for that kind of media attention.”

But after a terrific inaugural running in 2012, the hard part – sustaining the event over a long period of time – begins this weekend at COTA. As a NASCAR official tells Posnanski regarding last year’s USGP, “Let’s see how they do next year.” Whether or not that official is speaking the truth or subtly trying to rain on Austin’s parade, I’ll let you decide.

However, if F1 does make a long-term stay in America – something like its 20-year run in the ’60s and ’70s at Watkins Glen in New York State – it would appear that Austin is a good match for the series.

As Posnanski writes, there’s a self-assured cool about Austin. The people accept its eclectic nature, and now with F1 in town, they’re liking the fact that the city’s being connected to the international community.

“What is the most famous Formula One race? Monte Carlo, right?,” an unnamed Austin resident tells Posnanski. “It’s arrogant, but we kind of like to think of ourselves as America’s Monte Carlo.”

Arrogance and confidence rolled into one – truly, the essence of F1 itself. The Austinites already have it down cold, it seems.

For more, be sure to check out Posnanski’s interesting piece in the link above.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.