Posted on November 15, 2012 at 8:14 AM
Thursday, Nov 15 at 1:09 PM
AUSTIN -- Huge crowds are heading into Austin for the U.S. Grand Prix. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is expecting the largest number of arrivals on Thursday.
“It’s a good thing for the Austin community and for Texas,” said Randall Riley of Austin. Riley picked up a friend who flew in from Argentina to attend the race.
“Latin American people love the Formula 1 racing and they love fast cars,” said Riley. “A lot of the Latin American people are going to be coming in for the race.”
Airport spokesman Jim Halbrook says the airport is anticipating some 36,000 passengers to land on Thursday. Commercial flights are scheduled to land throughout the day. The first arrived around 7:30 a.m. with continuous service throughout the day. The last scheduled commercial flight comes in at 11:56 p.m.
The first flights of the morning brought in the first of the international tourists. It started off as a small group. Just a few at a time came down the escalator to baggage claim. Many came to Austin specifically for the race.
“The race itself, it’s just, it’s really hard to explain. You gotta experience it. It’s a rush. It really is. It’s just amazing how fast those cars are. You just gotta see it. There’s really no words to put to it,” said Dennis Ruswick from Washington.
The city is expecting hundreds of thousands of tourists for Formula 1. It’s an international sensation and a rare opportunity not just for Austin, but the entire nation.
“It’s been a long time. It hasn’t been in the United States since 2007. I’m excited. A big, big fan. Finally got another one in the United States and we’re here for it,” explained Ruswick.
“It is the first time that there will be a Grand Prix in America again. We thought we should take this opportunity and watch it,” added Bernhard Hengster of Austria.
ABIA began preparing for the crowds months ago. Not only will regularly scheduled commercial flights land on Thursday, but hundreds of private planes have also scheduled landings.The airport has extra staff on hand with TSA to process the crowds.
Rental car companies are also staffed for the onset. They’ve been processing visitors since the first flight landed. Taxis and Capital Metro are on hand as well. A Capital Metro spokesperson explained that shuttles will run to and from downtown Austin and the airport every 15 minutes.