Newton O'Neill Communications
PR with a personal touch.
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Need for Speed: F1 Races Into Austin


The buzz around Austin’s first F1 race – and the first in the country in five years -- built to a deafening roar a few weeks ago here in Austin. Among the plethora of stories and information coming from all new sources, I still wasn’t quite sure on the details and had several questions: Why is it such a big deal that Austin is getting this event? How does it differ from other races; why are so many Europeans such big fans, and where exactly is Elgin, Texas? I learned more than I could have even imagined about this elite car racing culture as NONC handled the PR for one of the top events during Formula 1 Weekend -- the My Yacht F1 Club at the Ballet Austin complex, November 16-18th. Our team was in charge of all details pertaining to event awareness and promotion, from arranging a local philanthropy partnership (we worked with I Live Here, I Give Here since it benefits a broad range of great local organizations), celebrity invites and of course, media outreach.

After reading for months about the crazy traffic, airport delays, even talks of opening up a new runway, the weekend was finally upon us. But, as most of the post-articles revealed, it was a lot ‘milder’ than most people thought it would be. Traffic wasn’t that bad, excluding of course, close to the track (unless you were getting there in style via a helicopter!), and all of the visitors to our capital city seemed to love all that Austin had to offer.

What the weekend did, and in particular the My Yacht event, is bring a real European-style flavor to our laid-back, “weird” town. The nightclub event was quite the experience, and as un-Austin as you could get, but everyone loved it, and it was an exciting break from the average experience in our city.

The event reminded me of days working high profile events in NYC and LA, and instead of walking well-known American celebrities down the red carpet, we were walking internationally-known drivers down the green carpet (green for our sponsor, Patron Spirits). It was truly a scene on the biggest night, Sunday’s post-race blowout, when we had drivers showing up with groups of 20 in their party, and we had to quickly scan the group to identify the driver to be photographed on the carpet.

But, just as quickly as it started, it was over; the red carpets packed up, hotel prices went back down and people began preparing for Thanksgiving and all of the December holidays. After living in Austin for a year and a half now and really getting the chance to participate in all of the annual events, I have to say South by Southwest might still be my personal favorite, but Formula 1 is definitely one for the books. The best part about it, in my opinion, is how different this race weekend is than the average Austin event, and that’s something the city can use, about once a year, every November!