Circuit of The Americas is a world-class motorsports and entertainment venue in Austin, Texas. It hosts dozens of high-profile motorsports, entertainment and business events each year, drawing hundreds of thousands of fans to the city every year and generating an annual economic impact of $500 million.
Circuit of The Americas was imagined as the first purpose-built Formula 1 Grand Prix facility in the United States designed for any and all classes of racing, from motor power to human power. Its success today belies the fact that before it was built, the developed faced enormous public skepticism. Complicating matters, the success of the racing venue depended on public acceptance and government approvals to access the Texas Major Event Trust Fund. CoTA’s ownership group came to Hahn Public to help define and tell the intriguing story and potential of Circuit of The Americas.
Build a Hometown Fan Base
From the moment Formula 1 in the United States was mentioned, media, fans and naysayers alike generated a consistent flow of conversation and debate. The Hahn Public team was charged with shaping that discussion by developing messages, communications strategies, interacting with the press, creating multimedia assets for media use, monitoring and responding to social media dialogue, and pushing back against critics and misinformation.
While Formula 1 on an international stage is a well-known brand, it wasn’t familiar to most Americans. Hahn Public developed ideas and newsworthy concepts for pitching local, regional, national and international media outlets that appealed to both race fans and the local public. Our team created an array of communication materials for presentations and events like the SXSW Film Festival. Using the buzz and following of famous Formula 1 driver Aryton Senna, Hahn Public introduced Austin to the Formula 1 brand with a 500-person documentary film screening and post panel event.
Hahn Public was also critical to the roll out of the Circuit of The Americas brand itself. Our team managed all the programming elements and media relations around the major announcement of the facility’s name, new partners and programs, and an additional racing series. The conference was live webcast through SPEED TV and supported by materials posted online during the press conference and shortly after. Hahn Public conducted all media outreach, coordinated event invitations, developed the program’s run-of-show, produced a full event media kit, created the script and its accompanying presentation and managed the track media tour logistics. The conference had approximately 110 people in attendance, including 34 journalists representing numerous publications. Twenty-seven journalists attended the extended press conference track tour, gathering content that resulted in additional earned media.
Coverage in the following week saw 3,567 media mentions, including 315 news articles in publications ranging from motorsports publications to the general press, and including LA Times, CNN, ESPN, BBC, Reuters and every major daily newspaper in Texas. International coverage included 68 articles, including in the vital Mexican media market where future ticket sales efforts would be made.
U.S. Grand Prix Race Success
Impressed by the burgeoning fan interest in Circuit of The Americas, local and state government officials approved entitlement plans for the facility as well access to the state’s Major Event Trust Fund.
On November 18, 2012, Austin hosted the first Formula 1 race in the U.S. since 2008. The inaugural United States Grand Prix race was an enormous success, attracting more than 300,000 guests and since that day, millions of additional visitors have enjoyed Circuit of The Americas as both a racing and entertainment destination.
In a real testament to the growing popularity of racing, American brands have boosted their sponsorship of Formula One to an estimated $118.5 million annually since the début of the United States Grand Prix.