Feb. 5, 2013
Liz Mannis, Texas Media Relations
The University of Texas football team recently convened to visit and tour the Circuit of The Americas complex.
“It’s such a unique and different experience for the United States, much less Austin,” said Arthur Johnson, associate athletics director for football operations. “We thought it would be a great learning experience and a great educational experience as the guys see this [complex] grow and change.”
The newly built multi-purpose facility in southeast Austin held its inaugural Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™ a few weeks prior to the visit, but the roars of cars practicing on the track greeted the team as they exited the buses.
Texas-Ex Bobby Epstein, a co-founder of the Circuit of The Americas project, provided the Longhorns with a brief overview of the 1,000-acre complex, emphasizing the vast number of people who had to work together to accomplish building such an impressive facility in such a short period of time.
“Teamwork and communication made this place happen and made it possible. Because what was supposed to take three-plus years to do, had to happen in 8-9 months,” explained Epstein. “I really want you to realize how in anything in life, working together as a team and communicating well is incredibly important.”
Visionary entrepreneur and longtime supporter of Texas Football, Red McCombs, also played a key role in making the Circuit of The Americas a reality, as well as in bringing the team out for a tour.
“Red McCombs was integral to making this happen because he got [head football] Coach [Mack Brown] to come out and Coach spoke to about 5,000 volunteers about the importance of this event, venue, and the role they played with the people who were coming to Austin for the race,” said Johnson.
After some exploring, the team packed into the elevators and rode up the 230-foot tower that sits at the center of the complex. Once up on the observation deck, the team took advantage of their camera phones to capture the 360-degree panorama view of the circuit, as well as pose for pictures together.
“This is very impressive. I’ve never been to anything like this before,” said junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. “We were all taking pictures. It was a good experience.”
While the football team shows no fear when taking and delivering hits on the field, it was a different story 230 feet above ground level. The bravest of the bunch treaded lightly across the glass floor portion of the observation deck and quickly realized how truly high up they were.
“There is a glass floor and when you take your first step on that you’re like, ‘Whoa!’ because you can see straight down to the ground. Everybody took their second step slowly. It was tough,” said Jeffcoat.
“That was pretty terrifying,” admitted senior punter Alex King. “I definitely have a fear of heights. I think there were a few other guys that would definitely tell you they’re a little afraid of heights.”
The team then boarded the buses parked on the track just outside the tower. The buses completed the 3.4-mile circuit track at a conservative speed, much slower than the average speeds of 150-200 mph that the cars hit during races.
The impressive tour concluded with a relaxing lunch before the team headed back to campus.
“It’s really nice to get out with the team,” said King. “It’s a good break. It’s just a great way to spend a Monday afternoon. It’s a good team-building exercise, and we were just having a lot of fun out here.”