October 19, 2017

According to a US State Department 2016 survey, only 36% of American citizens hold a passport allowing them to travel abroad. Compare that with 75% in most European countries. But when you live in a land as diverse and vast as the USA, maybe you don't feel the need to try "abroad." However, those of us in the F1 circus are happy to have our passports stamped "USA" if it means we can experience the city whose unofficial motto "Keep Austin weird" was first mentioned by local librarian Red Wassenich back in 2000. That's one interesting fact for you and here, in the year of our STR12 are a further 12 STRange facts about Austin, Texas and the USA.


1. Twenty-seven percent of Americans believe the moon landing was faked.

2. More breakfast cereal is made in Battle Creek, Michigan than in any other city worldwide.

3. The Brendon Hartley fact: the winner of the first ever USA GP, held in 1959 at Sebring was New Zealander Bruce McLaren.

4. Austin boasts the largest urban bat colony in the USA when, during the spring and summer months, around 1.5 million bats migrate from Mexico and head for the bridge on Congress Avenue.

5. Austin used to be called Waterloo and was later renamed in honour of one of its founding fathers, Stephen F. Austin.

6. The Food Truck, servicing delicious fast food has become something of an Austin institution and there are over 2000 of them operating in the city. It all started on South Congress Avenue.

7. Oscar, the Academy Award statuette, was named after Texan Oscar Pierce, whose niece worked in Hollywood for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She reckoned the statuette looked just like her uncle Oscar and the name stuck.

8. Texas produces more petroleum than any other state in the U.S.A. and if it were an independent nation, it would rank as the world's 5th largest producer of petroleum.

9. The Pierre Gasly fact: Frenchmen have won the USA GP twice, courtesy of Francois Cevert at Watkins Glen in 1971 and Alain Prost in Phoenix in 1989.

10. Abraham Lincoln is the only US president to have owned a patent: it was for a method of lifting boats over sandbars.

11. Americans consume 8 billion, yes billion! chickens per year.

12. How many races? Trying to work out how many USA GPs have been held is something of a nightmare, because of the number of venues (10,) the fact that the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race was part of the F1 World Championship for a while, some races were not known as the USA Grand Prix and because, for several years, the US hosted two Grands Prix per year. We're going to settle for the 2017 race being the 57th edition.