Out & About: Fear not Formula One
Face it, Formula One frightened Austinites.
Some feared traffic, crowds, costs and noise. Others suspected politicians, business leaders and sports fans who backed the Circuit of the Americas. Even those not given to chronic civic anxiety doubted the cultural match between Austin and the United States Grand Prix.
To a point, they were right. There was some traffic. Yet the shuttle bus to and from Elroy took me an hour each way, walking and queuing included. Crowds were pretty light downtown all weekend and I didn’t spend much money. As for the noise, yes, if I had black helicopter ops paranoia, I would have hidden under the house.
As for motives of our leaders, they always seem mixed, no more now than ever before. Does that make me cynical?
Still, motor sports and Austin are an unlikely pair. Remember that what happens on the track is not the whole story. Just as during South by Southwest, the Austin City Limits Music Festival or Rodeo Austin, what happens on the stage, screen or digital device is not always the point.
It’s the people.
One thing saddened me about the run-up to Formula One. I detected a sour note of Euro-phobia. Those snobs would come here, boss us around, make us each stinky cheese and drink sticky wine, then generally upset our funky apple cart.
That didn’t happen. Despite the sleekness and strangeness of New Austin and its Formula One friends, it abides in concert with Old Austin. In fact, international influences have helped keep our music, food, film and arts scenes alive and kicking.
There are more music venues, bars, clubs, theaters, galleries, museums, studios, parks and cafes than ever before. Our grand new funkiness in the form of more than 1,000 trailer eateries just keeps circulating around the city. They haven’t gone away.
And neither has Austin.