Bruton Smith scoffs at Austin F1 race

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith said Formula One racing "never has worked in this country" and he has no concerns about its upcoming race in Austin affecting tickets sales to future events at Texas Motor Speedway.

"We've checked and about 10 people we know are going to it, so I'm not really concerned," Smith said Saturday at TMS. "Formula One never had done anything in this country. It never has worked.

"They had one (Formula One) race in Phoenix a few years ago. There was an ostrich race that weekend (in 1991) that drew more people."

That sounds absurd, but TMS president Eddie Gossage said, "It's actually true."

F1 raced in Phoenix from 1989-91. The inaugural F1 race in Austin takes place Nov. 18 on the new Circuit of the America's track, a $300 million, 3.4-mile-road course southeast of downtown Austin.

Organizers of the Austin event say they have sold all the grandstand seats (estimated at more than 70,000) for the inaugural event.

Gossage was much more complimentary of the Austin event than Smith, who owns TMS and seven other speedways where NASCAR races.

"They are going to have a great crowd down there,'' Gossage said. "We know their ticket sales and they've done very well. Personally, I feel the more racing in Texas the better. But we don't have much crossover.

"It looks like a beautiful circuit. The challenge will be to maintain that in Year 2 and Year 3 , where F1 has struggled in the past. They had great crowds the few couple of years at Indianapolis, but couldn't sustain. But it'll be great this year."

F1 raced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000-2007, so the Austin event will be the first F1 race in the U.S. in five years.