AUSTIN -- Racing legend Mario Andretti took the ceremonial first lap Sunday afternoon at the Circuit of the Americas.
"It's ready for business," Andretti said to reporters after taking a few laps. "It's very physical. Turn two to turn 10 -- that's where your time is going to be. The secrets of corners...you blow one corner and you're going to be messed up for the next two. You have to have aggressive patience to get around, and you have to be very correct."
Andretti adds that the elevation is a great quality for the track, with wide turns enticing the drivers to make their moves.
"My signature corner is definitely turn number one. It's great the way it's going to be inviting for overtaking. You're going to see most of the action right there. It's going to be a learning curve throughout the race because of that width. Entering many key corners you have so many choices like I've never seen anywhere," he explains.
As for being behind the wheel on a new track, "It's what keeps me going. I love it. This is my life, and I push it as long as I can. I pushed my career as long as I could, and I try to play with these things as long as I can. As long as I can reach the pedals and push them," Andretti said with a smile.
He was joined on the track by actor and auto racer Patrick Dempsey.
"It's a lot of fun. It's a beautiful facility. It's nice to see that F1 is going to return to America, and this is a great place for it to be. I think it's going to be great for road racing in this country; it's a phenomenal facility."
"It feels great to always go out and run around. It's very technical...It's going to challenge some drivers," Dempsey told KVUE.com.
The track officially opens for business on November 16 as the host of the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix.
Circuit of the Americas expects to host up to 50 other racing events each year.