AUSTIN (KXAN) — Formula One weekend 2016 is officially underway and as expected, visitors from around the world have gathered in the heart of downtown Austin to embrace all of the festivities that come along with the race.
“Practice was on today,” said Andreas Nikolaus, “Niki,” Lauda. “[Nico] Roseberg was quickest so, I hope that we keep on winning, and even here in Austin.”
“Lewis Hamilton and Nico Roseberg are driving for me and we’re doing very well,” Lauda added.
Lauda, the Mercedes F1 non-executive chairman and three-time F1 world champion, was among the tourists in town for the race, who visited local stores and restaurants.
The F1 favorite spent some time after practice Friday shopping for cowboy boots for his wife at Allen’s Boots.
“We’re coming from the other side of the world, from Japan, where we come here to Austin,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Lauda told KXAN that Austin is a fantastic place.
“Austin, please stay as you are,” he said. “Restaurants are good, food is good. Boots are good. I can’t complain.”
Lauda is an Austrian former Formula One driver. He was F1 World Champion in 1975, 1977, and 1984.
Cesar Obregon and Paola Obiedo are from Mexico City. This is their first visit to Austin. They told KXAN News they are interested in exploring what the city of Austin has to offer, in addition to attending the U.S. Grand Prix.
“This is the first time to [attend a Formula One] in Austin,” Obregon.
The couple was also shopping for cowboy boots at the local shop.
“I’ve never been to Texas, so I was really excited to come here,” said Colorado resident, Danielle McSwain, who told KXAN News she’s in town just to see Taylor Swift perform at F1. “We’re here for my birthday trip,” she added.
“The last time I saw Taylor Swift, I cried,” McSwain said, laughing. “So, I think we’re going to do that again.”
McSwain’s family decided to come along. They are making a long weekend out of the trip.
It’s stories and experiences like these that the city of Austin hopes to continue to bring in during the annual F1 event, with the hope they’ll obtain repeat visitors to town.
“We are going to experience visitors from all over the world,” said Julie Chase, the Chief Marketing Officer at the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They’ll get a chance to experience of course, a lot of the barbecue, a lot of the Tex-Mex, but a lot of shopping [too.]”
Formula One, Chase said, is great for Austin.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the city,” she said. “I think we’re going to make a couple of fans out of these visitors.”
Chase continued, “Fan Fest is not just for the visitors. It’s also for the locals.”