By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
There was something almost surreally Texan about the Best of Great Britain Showcase Friday night at the Moody Theater at ACL Live. At one point, a conclave of what appeared to be seven-foot men in 10-gallon hats created a kind of Texan Stonehenge, towering over the crowd near the photo booth where Rick Perry was getting his picture taken with British Consul General Andrew Millar.
Standing among them, hatless, was Formula Austin president Andy Fish. Fish has been following Formula One for 30 years. His father raced the #2 Shelby Mustang to a national championship in the late 1960s.
“When we wanted the Formula One race to be here in Austin my international friends asked ‘Why Austin?’” Fish said. So he asked them, when they went to races in other parts of the world, what did they do besides go to the race. The answer came back, not much, because there wasn’t much else to do.
“I said, ‘That’s why the race is in Austin. Because Austin is different from every other track in the world. We’ve got so much going on here, when the world comes, they love it!”
To prove it, the Formula Austin team helped create a number of events, like this one with iconic music like Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Robert Earl Keen, Carolyn Wonderland, Rick Trevino and Marcia Ball, all of whom performed for crowds of two-steppers and swing dancers.
Another connection to Austin is technology, Fish pointed out. Three years ago, he said, he was with the Williams team at the Silverstone track in Great Britain and got access behind the pit wall. There, he said, engineers had 1,500 sensors on each car, feeding information into 24 computer screens, and a bank of servers, all with the name Dell on them.
Dell, along with Intel’s, Technology helps the Caterham F1 Team perform at its peak capabilities.
“Huge supercomputers perform billions of calculations to see which of a hundred front wingplates will work best,” according to Dell. “Servers provide a mobile office for over 60 people, 20 times per year. Gigabytes of data travel through virtually bulletproof laptops before being beamed back to a team’s base, sometimes on the other side of the world.”
Danny Lopez, Head of UK Trade and Investment spoke briefly about the UK’s campaign to promote the greatness of Great Britain, building on the momentum they gained during the London Olympics and “showcasing stories of creativity, technology and innovation: That’s the story of formula One,” he said. The Britain is great campaign “reminds audiences around the world that Britain is a great nation in which to invest, do business, study and visit.”
But he also got the biggest laugh of the night in this Keep Austin Weird crowd, by citing a BBC report that showed people from the UK are moving to Texas in great numbers because Texans are friendly, the business world is thriving, and Texans are “normal.”
Among the places he visited during his time in Austin was Capital Factory.
Gov. Rick Perry also spoke, pointing out that, when Texas was a republic, Great Britain was one of the nation’s that recognized its statehood. He also noted “No one will ever forget that it was a Brit who won the first U.S. Grand Prix.”
Formula One Fuels Tech Connections Between Austin and the U.K.
By SUSAN LAHEY