Racing Back: Grand Prix Returns to Houston

After a five-year absence, world-class auto racing returns to Houston this weekend as some of the best drivers around whip through a street course set-up at Reliant Park. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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The last open-wheel style racing in Houston was in 2001 when the Texaco-Havoline Grand Prix took over streets on the east side of downtown. This weekend's races, part of the American Le Mans Series and Champ Car World Series, move to Reliant Park and take place around a 1.7 mile course that winds past the Astrodome. This is the Grand Prix of Houston's Austin Crossley.

"If you're a serious racing fan you're going to have everything you've ever wanted out here but if you're not a serious racing fan, whether you're kind of a casual fan or even if you don't know anything about it all, when you get out here and hear the roar of the cars and you see these guys going by at almost 200 mph around the Reliant Astrodome, it's a pretty incredible experience."

Officials estimate the ecomonic impact on the city at around $25-30 million, with thousands of race fans expected to show up for racing all weekend.

"Based on the previous success of the Texaco-Havoline Grand Prix and the size of the market, we'd certainly hope over the course of the weekend that we'd have anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 fans through the gates. We think that as of right now we're well on-pace to be somewhere in there."

Instead of requiring street closures, this weekend's races are contained entirely inside Reliant Park. You can find out more about the races through a link on our website, KUHF.org.

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