Coming To America: Formula One Is In Austin

It has been a very long week. Time to let loose. For a change, we open up with with the Formula One circus. For the first time since the not much loved race in Indianapolis gave up the Brickyard ghosts in 2007, Grand Prix returns to the United States. The setting is the newly constructed Circuit Of The Americas in Austin Texas.

This is pretty exciting stuff. Grand Prix needs to be in the US, but has not had a venue that felt right since leaving Long Beach due to a tizzie between Bernie Ecclestone and the local promoters over the licensing fee. The US venues since then, including Detroit, Las Vegas, Indianapolis and, yes, even a forgettable three year stint here in Phoenix, just never felt right. But there is a ten year agreement to stage the race at Circuit of the Americas, and the hope is for stability.

The promoters and F1 have trotted out Mario Andretti to rave about the new facility but, from what I saw of it during practice yesterday, it looks butt ugly to me. Coming two weeks after a stop at the opulent and gorgeous Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit, the dustbowl cheap blight of COTA is embarrassing. Austin is a great city, maybe COTA will grow into something worth while with a little age, let’s hope so.

As for the race, so far – as expected – the Red Bulls are fast. Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso, in that order, seem to be ahead of the pack early. The final practice is live on Speed starting at 10 am EST and qualifying starting at 1 pm EST, also on Speed. Coverage of the actual race starts at 1:30 pm Sunday, again on Speed. I will say this much, while the facilities and surrounding land look a little bleak, the track surface is smooth, wide, and looks both fast and promising for passing. Tally ho!

No, it is not time for football yet, we have a report from Emptywheel’s fearless Roving Reporter, Rosalind! Yep, it is horse racing news, and boy it is exciting. You all remember the blog love we had for the one and only amazing Zenyatta. (See also here). Well, Zenyatta is retired, but has a colt we shall see in another two years or so. But Zenyatta’s younger sister has arrived baybee! That’s right, Eblouissante!! Rosalind reported yesterday Eblouissante started, and won, her first race at Hollywood Park. And, with Corey Nakatani up, it was pretty special; worthy of Zenyatta in every respect. Take a look at the video, it almost gives you goosebumps.

Okay, I guess we better do a little football since, after all, this is a football blog. Starting with the college boys, the best action, by far, this weekend is in the Pac. The big matchup is Stanford taking its Tree up to Eugene to do business with the Ducks. Stanford is really good, but I don’t think they have enough to beat the Quackers. Not in Autzen Stadium. The other interesting game, and it has been a while since this could be said with these two teams, is USC versus UCLA. The Bruins have a real shot, and the Trojans have been disappointing. They really need to terminate the Lane Kiffen experiment I think. Baylor doesn’t have RGIII anymore, but they may give Kansas State a test.

In the pros, the action starts early with The Cheesers visiting the Kittens up in Detroit. The Pack are coming off their bye week, but still are plagued by injuries. Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews are all out. The Lions are starting to gel, at least a little. I smell an upset if the Lions front four can put pressure on Aaron Rodgers. The other must watch early game, even if it is just to see which way the train continues to wreck, is Philly at the Skins. At this point, it is hard to picture either team winning the game. Maybe it will be another tie, because Randiego’s Bolts can’t have all the fun in that department. Speaking of the Bolts, they will be up at Mile High Casa de Peyton. Not likely to turn things around there.

The must see late game is Colts at the Pats. The Colts are actually a pretty decent team, it is not all Andrew Luck. If the line gives Luck some time, they have a real shot because, as seems to be habitually the case, the Pats defense sucks. But then there is Tom Brady, my guess is he is going to show the rook how it is done.

Then there are the night games, and they are both excellent. Sunday Night is Baltimore at Pittsburgh. Normally that is all that would need to be said, but not this time. No, the metrics have changed because Big Ben hurt his throwing shoulder and he is out. Taking over will be Byron Leftwich. Leftwich has had an up and down career, partially due to injuries, but he is certainly a serviceable backup. The Steelers will have Rashard Mendenhall back, and with youngsters Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, that is a hell of a backfield. They will need it as the Ravens are on a roll; look for that roll to continue. Monday Night is Bears at Niners in the Concussion Bowl. Both Alex Smith and Jay Cutler have issues with the noggin, Cutler is definitely out and Smith is very questionable. My guess is Smith will be cleared, and that makes the difference.

That’s it for this week, get down to it.

106 replies
  1. emptywheel says:

    Go Eblouissante!

    I’ve already told Mr. EW I think Luck is gonna beat Brady, but don’t tell Rosalind bc she’ll say something snarky.

    I don’t think the Kitties can beat the Cheese: not enough of a run game. Happy to be proved wrong, but …

  2. jclausen says:

    oldnslow from over at FDL got tickets for this race and was ecstatic.

    My best to you, Marcy and bmaz. Thanks for all you do.

  3. tbob says:

    Looked at the photos on their site…COTA, that is…and it doesn’t look that bad. We are talking about Baja Oklahoma after all. Guess golf courses could be located around the track to attract the privileged, but then they’d build mansions (landscaping would improve) and just bitch about the noise. F-1’s fine, but I’m looking forward to the MotoGP event scheduled for next year. Now that’s racing!

  4. bmaz says:

    @tbob: Yeah, it is really hard to get a bead on from the standard F1 feed they run on Speed do I may be full of it as to how bleak it is. Gonna try to get there next year.

  5. What Constitution says:

    A hearty “Congratulations” to Miguel Cabrera, MVP of the American League, too. Some felt Mike Trout to be the better choice, perhaps, but not even the too-late-to-make-a-difference pro-Trout arguments of the seemingly invincible Nate Silver or the ever-subtle Keith Olbermann can diminish the achievement. A great addition to a still-ascending career for Miggy, and Mr. Trout has plenty of time to paint his ultimate masterpiece(s) on the larger stages of full seasons. It’s been nice to watch the two real pros respect each other as this most interesting campaign of the fall swirled around them. You called it right, bmaz, you called it right — good on you.

    Now go UCLA, defeat those of questionable virtue at USC — check the footballs first, though.

  6. chetnolian says:

    Wish I was in Austin. Wish I was there anyway but with F1 it would be better.I don’t even get to see it live over here because I won’t sign up to Murdoch’s Sky; questioning my judgement as we speak!

  7. guest says:

    “the dustbowl cheap blight of COTA is embarrassing.”

    What are you talking about, the the Texas landscape or the hideous asphalt taxpayer funded boondoggle ruining it? At least they put it in the SE industrial part of town near the airport, so all the worst blights in town can be together. Having lived in Austin for almost two decades, I’d say it looks like Texas, and it could have looked a lot worse. Actually, the landscape looks just fine to me. What were you expecting, palm trees?

  8. Peterr says:

    The promoters and F1 have trotted out Mario Andretti to rave about the new facility but, from what I saw of it during practice yesterday, it looks butt ugly to me. Coming two weeks after a stop at the opulent and gorgeous Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit, the dustbowl cheap blight of COTA is embarrassing. Austin is a great city, maybe COTA will grow into something worth while with a little age, let’s hope so.

    Bmaz, you’re talking about Austin, as in “Keep Austin Weird”.

    Given F1’s predilection for opulence and gorgeousness, the Austin folks have obviously made an ironic artistic statement in the design of their course.

    It wouldn’t be Austin otherwise.

  9. Peterr says:

    If the NFL wants to get serious about concussions, don’t fine the defensive player who goes helmet to helmet with a QB, RB, or receiver — put them on the bench for as long as the injured player is not cleared to play. If they’re out for the rest of the game, fine. It’s they’re out for a month, so be it. If they’re out for the season, great — so are you.

    And if you end someone else’s career with an illegal hit to the helmet, you can kiss your own helmet goodbye for good too.

    Until then, the fines are just another badge of honor.

  10. JohnT says:

    @rosalind: And, the Trees and Ducks game forecast is for rain, mid 40’s, and wind

    Not that I’m Carnac or anything (except mostly spot on with the Pac 12, and the NFC Norris Division) but I told you all to watch out for UCLA, and that they could beat out U$C for the Pac 12 South. That said, I have no idea how this game will turn out

    Just an out of left field prediction, I think the Sconnies will beat the Sweatervests

    And the Kitties have a chance against the Cheeseheads; factoring the injuries in GB

  11. jo6pac says:

    Well Sebs on the pole and on his way to F-1 Title 3 unless something happens to the car. Ferrari takes another step backwards.

  12. bmaz says:

    @guest: Yeah, I may have been a bit hard on COTA. Speed uses a common video feed that is set up to cover the cars, not necessarily the scenery. So, maybe I just did not get a proper look.

  13. Peterr says:

    Meanwhile, Bill Simmons served up a thing of beauty yesterday at Grantland. It opens like this:

    Just Go Away, Gary

    News broke last night that embattled NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested a two-week moratorium from lockout negotiations with the NHLPA. The reason? Things had just become too heated. I guess that’s what happens when you cancel six weeks of games and Thanksgiving is looming — maybe there’s a little more urgency, you say some things you regret, people take those things personally, and suddenly you’re threatening each other in monotone Canadian accents. Why don’t you go to hell, eh? But canceling another two weeks just so everyone can cool off? Who does this? And you wonder why hockey fans were regarding Bettman’s lockout leadership the same way you’d act if you were watching a baby play with a chainsaw.

    And then Simmons really gets going.

    (You don’t have to be a fan of hockey to enjoy it, but that certainly helps.)

  14. jo6pac says:

    @bmaz: Yes I think at the end of the season Ferraris mothership(Fiat) needs to clean house. There was some who said that the Italians can’t run this team. It sure looks that way and just when you should be improving at the end of the season they haven’t.

    On Hockey I don’t have any clue about how it’s played but I look at this as just another Union bashing by billionaire owners. Same with the twinky management.

  15. scribe says:

    @Peterr: Absolutely hilarious and spot on, the Grantland article. Thanks so much!

    If you go over and read it, dear reader, do make a point of reading all the way to the bottom of the whole page – it’s well worth it.

  16. Bob Schacht says:

    I’m looking forward to the Trees and Ducks tonight. But the Big Blue game this morning was certainly worth the look. Michigan soon took control, but it was the way they did it that was interesting. Denard Robinson did play a few snaps at QB, but mostly he played as a tailback in an option offense– and gained almost 100 yards. He also played as a WR, and caught several passes, IIRC. He didn’t throw any passes because of his elbow injury that prevents him from gripping the ball properly. But the biggest surprise was Robinson’s backup, Devan Gardner, who played one heckuva game. Passed for several TDs, ran for a couple more. This combo, with Gardner at QB and Robinson at tailback looks like a real winner. Toussaint was lost early with a leg injury, but he really wasn’t needed.

    The trick play of the game was when Michigan pulled a triple (!) reverse.

    Bob in AZ

  17. bmaz says:

    Bruins beat USC. And convincingly too. Hopefully that will put a chip on the Trojan’s shoulder for Notre Dame purposes.

  18. Bob Schacht says:

    Incredible! Wisconsin, down 14-7, with the ball on Ohio’s 1 yard line, on fourth down, Monte Ball fumbled trying to get the TD, and Ohio recovered the fumble! On the previous play, where Wisconsin should have got 1st and goal on the half yard line, instead with a bad spot was deprived of the 1st down.

    Bob in AZ

  19. rosalind says:

    @bmaz: and now i segue into an evening of cognitive dissonance: rooting for Stanford while knowing Oregon is the Pac 10+2 best hope nationally.

  20. Bob Schacht says:

    With less than 2 min. left, the Badgers hold Ohio 3 & out, and manage to tie the game! Overtime!

    Bob in AZ

  21. oldnslow says:

    Greatings from Austin. As promised, an update from COTA;
    As you rightly point out the area around the track is rural and depressed. Not the kind of scenery we would want our guests to travel through to get to the track. It has only been 20 months since the first scratch at dirt and the facility, while incomplete in many ways, is beautiful. The teams are raving about the place and the city. All the out of country visitors I spoke with were quick to say it is a top notch event. Traffic was handled very well both yesterday and today. ( today appeard to be over 100k while yesterday was officially 63k)

    There are not enough food vendors and there are not yet the aminities you would like to see for eating, enough permanent restrooms and that sort of thing. However, all in all it is really something that it has come off in such a short amount of time. Next year expect all the foot paths to be paved, all the permanent restrooms in place and enough food vendors to handle the size of the crowd.

    The staff, from the shuttle drivers to the trash collectors, tickets takers to walk around beer guys were, to a person, friendly, helpfull, cheerfull and, most importantly, knowledgable.

    The track itself is void of even the slightest ripple. The morning session yesterday started very slowly with almost every driver losing the front at various spots on the track. It was better in the afternoon with a good amount of rubber being laid in by both the F1 cars and the vintage GP cars. By the morning seesion today it was pretty clear that the track is very fast.

    For those of you that have consulted a track map we watched action from turn 6, turn 15 and turn 18/19 which affords a view of turn 1.

    All things considered bmaz, it looks like this inagural event will go down as a huge success. I, as are all the locals I can find, am thrilled to have F1 come to town.

  22. Peterr says:

    @Bob Schacht: And there is much wailing and gnashing of badger-teeth, as the Buckeyes prevail in OT.

    The Buckeyes want to add much merriment to the BCS “what-if” scenarios this year, by going undefeated while ineligible for any bowl games.

    I can see the OSU bandleader talking to the band on Monday, setting up their routines for their final game — at home vs the Wolvereenies. “OK, you know we always do the Script Ohio, and someone special gets to “dot” the I. For our post-game show, after we take down Michigan, we’re going to spell out B C S — and then someone special gets to be the asterisk. Whoever wins the BCS title will know that they were lucky they didn’t have to face us in the championship.”

  23. bmaz says:

    @oldnslow: Thanks much for the report! Yes it was put together fast – and there was a critical lull where it almost fell through. So, the fact there are still some things left to do is understandable. As I noted above, the one thing that look gorgeous from the start is the track and surface.

    Austin is a great city, I bet the Circus followers do really like it

  24. sluggahjells says:

    When you don’t have a guy like Ty Zimmerman apart of this huge game, it really changes the culture of your effective defense for K-State.

    And that what has happened to the K-State defense. Zimmerman is the Collin Klein of their defense, and they have missed him so dearly tonight.

  25. Peterr says:


    And with one quarter left to go, it’s Baylor 52, K State 24.

    It’s not over yet, but if Collin Klein can pull this one out, you can engrave his name on the Heisman tomorrow morning.

  26. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: Four TDs is a lot of ground to make up; although they are about to get one of them.

    OR NOT. Goal line stand by Baylor and the ball goes over to Baylor.

  27. Peterr says:


    I’m going to have to do lots of pastoral care tomorrow morning with a number of folks who have been showing up to worship dressed in their best K State purple.

  28. Bob Schacht says:

    @rosalind: What a game! The officials played an important role, too. The Stanford defense seemed to have the ducks in a pen for most of the game. IIRC, the Ducks second touchdown was off a turnover, and they missed several field goals that might have won the game. A thrilling game, and well played!

    Bob in AZ

  29. Brindle says:

    I was rooting for the Ducks, but they do not seem to know how to play smash-mouth. The brainiacs from Stanford showed that the Ducks were too finesse oriented. Alabama would have killed the Ducks….and I hate Alabama.

  30. Milton Arbogast says:

    What about The Bridge? It’s all MacMansions now I believe, but there was a moment when it was one hell of a race track. God, I wish those days were back again.

  31. chetnolian says:

    @bmaz: I was surprised COTA was so far out, no sign of the Austin towers in any shot. What’s the nearest township oldnslow?

    While we are on clearouts, definitely time for Whitmarsh to go. Top line properly managed teams don’t have QA failurs such as hit Button in quali nowadays.

  32. bmaz says:

    @Milton Arbogast: McMansions and… courses. Never saw a race there but heard the tales. The days where Bridgehampton, Lime Rock, Road America etc and sports car racing were actually big are missed.

  33. bmaz says:

    @chetnolian: Jenson deserves a real shot next year without the somewhat cancerous presence of Hamilton. It would be fantastic if the team could solve the equipment issues and gel around Button.

  34. Casual Observer says:

    NY Giants fans are all sitting around on their bye week reflecting on two losses. The life, she is not so great.

  35. scribe says:

    @bmaz: Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow.

    Tebow. Tebow. Tebow.

    Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow.


    Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow. Tebow.

    Tebow. Tebow.


  36. bmaz says:

    Aaaand Lewis Hamilton is whining like the petulant baby he is that the second line is too slick for his dandy ass.

  37. JohnLopresti says:

    Concussion bowl 9ers by a wide margin, Harbaugh is lucky it’s not against Dallas, cheerleaders give an old guy more than a concussion. May Harbaugh be hale, and may Kaepernick run thru them in the air and on the ground

  38. Peterr says:

    It took three quarters, but the CBS announcing crew at Arrowhead stadium finally took public notice of the massive disgust that the KC fans have for the management of the KC Griefs.

  39. Peterr says:


    With 4:28 left, Tebow’s passing stats are 1 attempt, 1 completion, and -1 total yards.

    This being Tebow, there are also his rushing stats to consider: 2 carries for -5 yards.

  40. jo6pac says:

    Great Race today and some how Alonso/Ferrari pull a rabbit out the cowboy hat. I’m glad Massa did so will. On to Brazil.

    Time to plant shallots and garlic.

  41. sluggahjells says:

    @bmaz: Well Lewis won again……..I guess his petulance was too good for the rest of the field, lol.

    And yup, Rick Perry giving him the trophy, and the state will pay the whole bill.

  42. scribe says:

    @Peterr: You’re forgetting that which the typical fan of the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS suffers from: a delusion that incorporates (a) the idea their team can win, (b) that the way to winning is grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-a-new-QB, and (c) management competence.

    After 50 years, you’d think they’d have figured it out that their team is cursed. But, no.

  43. bmaz says:

    Looks like Mr. Brady was geeked up and ready for young Mr. Luck to come visit. 290 yards and 3 TDs and only in the 3rd quarter.

    And Peyton just threw his third over the lonely Bolts.

  44. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: This was as much about the D and Special Teams as Mr. Brady. I don’t THINK Luck’s team is as bad as the score makes it look, but the other 2 teams were playing like htey haven’t all season, IMO.

    So i was wrong. Glad to be wrong.

  45. bmaz says:

    24/35 for 331 and 3 TDs. Not an inconsequential day of work, but you are right about the D. And Talib is clearly going to help big time if they can keep him on the Bill Bel plan. Colts still look solid; just ran into a buzzsaw on the road today.

  46. chetnolian says:

    Thought Hamilton raced really well today. Gues Mr Whitmarsh (1 and 4)and Sig Montezemolo (2 and 3)both get a stay of execution

  47. bmaz says:

    @chetnolian: It was an excellent race by Hamilton. I don’t think Vettel thought he was coming as soon as he did and made a mistake in letting Hamilton around. But the McLaren looked faster and likely would have taken him sooner or later anyway I suppose. Telling was the 39 second difference from those two to Alonso. Jeebus. Fernando’s only hope was that Hamilton shunted Vettel, or vice versa, and they both went out. Not to be.

  48. bmaz says:

    By the way, these Pittsburgh Bumblebee uniforms are really starting to grow on me. I think they should wear them all the time.

  49. scribe says:

    @bmaz: I Thank God I am on the train and do not have to watch those damned bumblebee unis.

    In fact, I planned my work day around missing this game by being on the train.

  50. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: Zirin said ” Steeler uniforms make them look like prisoners in Charles M. Schultz’s sex dungeon.”

    So, there is that Charlie Brownish description.

    I think they look great on Scribe’s team.

  51. Peterr says:

    Meanwhile, Matt Ryan throws not one, not two, not three, not four, but five passes to the Bidwell’s defense, no TDs to his own teammates, and STILL the Bidwells can’t win?

  52. Peterr says:

    Mrs Dr Peterr just flipped the channel over to the Stiller Game, and a shriek was heard . . . “What ARE those uniforms?!?! Bumblebees?!?!? Those have got to be the worst uniforms I have ever seen. It’s like something you’d put on a chain gang!”

  53. Bob Schacht says:

    I think the Denver Donkeys are for real. Peyton Manning is really back, and shows no sign of relapse. And have you noticed during the games how, over on the sidelines when the Denver defense is on the field, Manning appears to be conducting a seminar with his teammates? I think they should have a good chance of getting to the Superbowl.

    Who are the top four QBs in the league? I think Peyton, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers look pretty good. Anyone else belong in that class? Does Big Ben Rothlisberger still have it? Eli? Has Cam Newton arrived? RBG III? I can’t find a source for QB ratings that is up to date.

    Bob in AZ

  54. Bay State Librul says:

    No Gronking on Turkey Day?

    FOXBOROUGH — The news was not all good on the Patriots front Sunday. Tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a broken left forearm in the 59-24 victory over the Colts, according to an NFL source.

    Gronkowski didn’t speak to reporters after the game, and wasn’t seen in the locker room. He left the game following Stevan Ridley’s 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter — he was also in for the extra point — with no obvious signs of injury.

    Gronkowski continues to work his way into the team and league record books.

    He caught seven passes (he was targeted seven times) for 137 yards and two touchdowns, his third 100-yard game of the season and ninth of his career. His nine 100-yard games ties Ben Coates’s Patriots record for a tight end.

    Gronkowski caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady on the Patriots’ opening drive, then added a second score in the third quarter, a 24-yarder following a Colts turnover.

    Gronkowski’s second touchdown of the game made him the first tight end in NFL history with at least 10 touchdowns in three straight seasons

  55. quebecois says:

    Hey bmaz, saw the race this morning, lap 10 Schu proved he’s not only in the way, but an absolute ass towards Button. Great race, track is cool, pirelli needs a way softer compound.

  56. bmaz says:

    @quebecois: Yes as to all points. My initial assessment of the facility as a whole may have been too harsh. The track was superb (which I did note originally, but in retrospect, the actual buildings and landscaping etc. may have been better than at first thought AND, obviously, will fill in over the next couple of years. It was a bit of a rush to even be open for FIA certification this year.

  57. quebecois says:

    @bmaz: Exactly, it was an epic thing to get this constructed. Unstable clay and Ecclestones almost sinked this project. It was nice to see the stands with so many race fans and no beer bottles discarded on the track…

  58. jo6pac says:

    @bmaz: Yes we have a hell of a problem in 9er world. That was Sweet. It also looks like coaching has looked around the vast Offense/Defense library of Walsh and Seifert. I love listening to Chucky he was there only one yr as Steve Young water boy but sure learned a lot in that one yr.

  59. JohnT says:

    The best HC Cal’s had in a long time, Jeff Tedford, is out. Just couldn’t get a QB for some reason. Thanks Coach Tedford

    And, not that I have a crystal ball or anything, but Chris Peterson would fit in pretty nicely at Berkeley

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