AUSTIN -- Barricades are blocking downtown roads. Stages and vendors are set up on every corner. Exotic cars line the streets. All of that means one thing: F1 fever has hit Austin.
Thursday the city rolled out the Red Carpet for its guests.
"It looks like your city is really putting down the dog here," said Mike McMillen, an F1 fan visiting from California. "I mean you've got five square blocks of activity going on! So it's going to be fun."
The Formula 1 Fan Fest promises to please with music and shopping. Nearby restaurants are running specials for hungry crowds and stores are having blow out sales.
"You've got great food. We ate at Eddie V's last night and it was fabulous," said Kathie McMillen, also visiting from California. She's excited to do something else while downtown. "Shopping!" she exclaimed.
But businesses in downtown Austin are a little more conservative with their expectations this year.
"Last year we bulked up our inventory a little bit, brought in, you know, a larger amount and a larger amount of pieces specifically for F1. Furs and leathers and stuff like that. And the traffic was decent. We had great sales last year, but it wasn't as crazy as they thought it was going to be," said Girl Next Door Store Manager Stephani Kagan.
In 2012 many Austinites skipped Fan Fest.
"There wasn't as many people just because I think people were afraid of traffic," said Austinite Marbenn Cayetann. "But really they had traffic under control and there was so much room and places to park."
This year the festival has expanded. It's a move aimed at drawing in tourist and locals, such as Brad McCarty, who skipped the festivities last year.
"This year I think I'm going to try to come down here and see some of the activities," McCarty said.
And the weekend packs a one-two punch. Not only will the Grand Stands be full of fans, so will the bleachers at the University of Texas football stadium. Saturday the Longhorns battle Oklahoma State at home.
That could bring in more money for local businesses.
"You will have all those people who come down from the stadium to 6th Street, to these downtown businesses. And then you'll have Fan Fest going on," said Media Director of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce Ashley Hardy.
Circuit of the Americas estimates the U.S. Grand Prix will bring more than $400 million to Austin's economy this year.