Circuit of the Americas

To say reaction to the addition of Circuit of the Americas to the 2019 INDYCAR schedule is “off the charts” – as Mark Miles did Tuesday – would be somewhat tame.

On the all-important social media scale of 1 to 10, drivers have given the news a solid 12. Put that in your amp and crank it, Nigel Tufnel (see “This Is Spinal Tap”).

It starts with Miles himself. The president and CEO of Hulman & Co., which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, responded to the reaction he’s received from drivers and team owners that the series will compete at COTA on March 24 – the second race of the 2019 IndyCar Series season.

For the uninitiated, COTA is the 20-turn, 3.4-mile road course located in the rolling hills on the southeastern edge of Austin, Texas. It will hold the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix for the seventh time next month, and it’s been on INDYCAR drivers’ wish lists since it opened in 2011.

That’s why, when asked about their reaction to the news during a teleconference with Circuit of the Americas founder and chairman Bobby Epstein, Miles said this:

“Off the charts, whether it's drivers who want to be there on that great stage, in that great market, a world-class track or the team owners who want to bring their sponsors – everybody is thrilled about it. Haven't heard a peep out of anything except enthusiastic support.”

That, of course, led to drivers posting proof of their enthusiastic support. Alexander Rossi, who started 17th and finished 12th for Manor Marussia at the 2015 USGP, shared a photo of his cowboy self:

“Very happy to see the best open wheel series will be headed to the best road course...and also very happy I won’t be the ONLY American driver there this time
#cowboyup #indycar #COTA

Graham Rahal took the macro view, noting the return to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the 2019 season finale and an NBC Sports lineup that puts a large chunk of INDYCAR’s live TV schedule on its primary, over-the-air platform:

“Lots to be excited about as we head in 2019. @COTA & @WeatherTechRcwy join an already stout lineup of tracks, increased car count / teams and driver lineups, and the transition to @IndyCaronNBC full time w/ lots of races on the main channel. Things are definitely looking up!”

And there was this basic, all-caps question from Patricio O’Ward, the recently crowned Indy Lights champion, in response to an story about the positive reaction from fans:

“HOW COULD WE NOT!!?!?⁦@IndyCar⁩”

COTA was watching, as well. The track also linked to the story on Twitter, with acknowledgement:

“The feeling is mutual, y'all. “

That wasn’t the only positive response from the circuit. Epstein praised Miles and the INDYCAR staff for pursuing the track and making INDYCAR in Austin a reality.

“The effort that Mark and all of his staff put in to putting a great product together, giving the fans a great show, wanting the teams to have a great experience, is really impressive,” Epstein said. “They really listen to the fans and drivers and sponsors, and they make I think perhaps an underappreciated, under-recognized effort to put together and deliver a season of exciting racing and great venue experiences. They really wanted this to happen, and they really put together a great product. They work together as a team really well. It's been a pleasure for us.”

Judging from the response, he’s not alone.