Celebrities, locals test Circuit of the Americas racetrack



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Posted on October 22, 2012 at 12:51 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 22 at 7:24 AM

ELROY, TEXAS --  The official ambassador of Circuit of the Americas, Mario Andretti, took the wheel in the first lap of a ceremony Sunday, marking the opening of the only purpose built Formula One track in the United States.

Following his lap Andretti said, “The track is phenomenal. It has all the features that you are looking for, giving you the opportunity to overtake, while negotiating some tighter corners. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into it.”

Andretti drove the 3.4 mile track in the same kind of car he drove to win the F1 World Championship in 1978.

November's race will be the first Formula One United States Grand Prix since 2007.

Sunday's ceremony was star-fueled. Actor Patrick Dempsey, best known as Dr. McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy, could also be called "Mc. Speedy" as he tested the track in a Lotus.

Dempsey said, "It's a really good opportunity for F1 to come back into this country and start a new tradition. This is a market that they need.”

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs called the expected revenue of the first week of F1 a treat.

Combs said, "You are going to see the markets taking a look at Austin, that's the place to be."

She says preliminary numbers show $220 million in projected revenue for the state, and $13 million for the city of Austin.

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