Race brings excitement, economic boon to Elroy

ELROY, Texas -- In Elroy, there's something in the air.

There are a lot of things, to be precise. For the second November in a row, an endless parade of helicopters ferried the world's wealthiest over the normally quiet Central Texas town.

The annual Formula One race hosted by Circuit of the Americas brought more than 100,000 people through the unincorporated community, which is home to just over a hundred residents. Since the race came to town, the community quickly assumed a new nickname: Speed City.

It's been a great circus! said Wyman Wild Bubba Gilliam, who temporarily relocated his Wild Game Grill in Elroy trackside. We had our big stand up there at Turn One. We sold about a million hamburgers, bison hot dogs. We had a great time!

In fact, the entire town seemed to be finding ways to carve out a piece of the prosperity pouring in from all corners of the globe.

This year it's a lot of people, so we're happy, said Betsy Sanchez. At La Poblanita restaurant just down the road from the track, Sanchez's dining room became a sort of international salon.

They come from Paris and from Italy, said Sanchez, who admitted the different accents from around the world can at times make communication a challenge. It's funny to speak to the people from other countries.

Enterprising Elroy homeowners were quick to cash in on the scarcity of parking close to the track. At the Figueroa family homestead, visitors could grab a parking space and a homemade burger, yet the impact of the weekend business on the Figueroas was more than just economic.

It's a benefit for my cancer. I'm a cancer patient and we're trying to pay the medical bills, said Daniel Figueroa. A longtime Elroy resident whose expansive plot borders those of several family members, Figueroa said his favorite thing the race brings to town is conversations.

It's a lot of fun, said the soft-spoken patriarch. People are very friendly. We get to talk to a lot of people from all sides of the world. Everybody is just ready to carry a conversation, and that just makes the world of it. It feels good to be able to communicate with people and everybody's enjoying themselves.

It's meant so much for this business, but it goes way beyond that, said Gilliam. It goes to business in Austin, the State of Texas, the United States. It goes on and on.

As the sun set on a successful weekend, many said they are already looking to the next.

I hope every year is like this day, said Sanchez.


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