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The Intern
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Apparently it is being built right in Austin, near 183 and Colorado River.
Would be open to motor enthusiasts (car, and I assume bikes too).

Here is some info:

From the Austin Statesman, Dec 25, 2007:

MOTOR SPORTS
Start your engines
Driveway Austin opens new track, has big plans

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

When former race car driver Bill Dollahite gave a tour of his proposed driving academy course in October, he did so in a Vietnam War-era Jeep. He threaded his way through chinaberry and hackberry trees, clamored over hills and ravines and pushed aside stray branches and spider webs as he pointed to places in the scrub wilderness on Austin's eastern edge, where he is creating replicas of some of the most storied turns in racing.

Just a month later, Dollahite made another tour over the same terrain, this time in a golf cart, cruising down a wide ribbon of packed earth that was being sculpted with a road grader guided by a global positioning system and computer-aided design software.

"This will be like a billiard table when we're done," Dollahite almost shouted as 18-wheelers rumbled by his pet project that is clearly on a fast track.

Dollahite's Driveway Austin ? whose initial, loop course has been used by everyone from sports cars enthusiasts to cyclists and EMS drivers in the past two years ? is undergoing a massive expansion.

The course under construction features a corkscrew turn modeled after the famous one at Laguna Seca and a tree-lined straightaway where the hottest cars will be able to hit a buck and a half, as Dollahite casually calls 150 mph.

Although the layout looks like the kind used in competition, Dollahite cautions, "The one thing we are not is a race track. We don't have the infrastructure for that."

Instead of attracting spectators, Driveway Austin is designed to pull in enthusiasts who want to learn and practice high-performance driving.The top-end users figure to be executives with money to burn and a need for speed. Dollahite, who has 25 investors in the project, plans to build 75 private workshop garages where members can house their souped-up toys.

In the past decade, driving country clubs and motor sport ranches have popped up near Houston, Fort Worth, Chicago, Salt Lake and a half-dozen other cities. The concept is simple: Instead of building amenities around a golf course, do the same thing with a race course. Driveway Austin is part of that fad but stands apart in at least two ways ? its central and scenic location and its openness to benefiting the community at large.

Austin and Travis County EMS drivers use the course for training, and cyclists have made Thursday night racing a weekly celebration. Plans include a public hike-and-bike trail bordering the course. Dollahite also said he wants to find a way for students from nearby Johnston High and other schools to work and learn in the six planned commercial shops at Driveway Austin.

"There's nothing around any place that has this combination. It's a hybrid that's never been put together before," Dollahite said of the project. "We're taking what used to be a fill site and turning it into a destination site for Austin."

A dream takes shape

Dollahite, 54, began racing go-carts and hydroplanes as a teenager and eventually became a driver/owner who competed in LeMans and other Grand Prix events. A Dallas native, Dollahite moved to Austin 14 years ago, racing for a team sponsored by Dell Computer. He's married and a father of two ? son Scott was a senior running back for Cedar Park this season.

After moving to Austin, he began dreaming of building a road course that could be used as part of a teaching facility for everything from aspiring racers to teenage drivers. Four years ago, he found a promising, if unlikely, spot ? an undeveloped 91-acre plot once earmarked for an industrial park that never materialized. The site, which had been used as a landfill by Ranger Excavation, is just off U.S. 183 and just north of the Colorado River.

It can be easily seen from jets taking off or landing at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, but otherwise, the facility is almost invisible to the rest of Austin. Surrounded by woods, it feels more like a golf course than a race course.

"This looks like a European Grand Prix course," Dollahite said.

It will look more like a pro circuit track when the garages start going up. If Dollahite has any concern about selling those, he's not showing it.

"Every track in the country that has garages has a waiting list," Dollahite said. "This is the business model we envisioned. It is just getting bigger than we anticipated."

Sharing the road

One of the earliest groups to benefit from Driveway Austin were area cyclists. A couple of Driveway Austin's investors are also cycling enthusiasts, and soon cyclists began staging criterium races on Thursday evenings.

"We started cooking, grilling hamburgers, had music and a sound system," said Barry Lee, head of the Hotel San Jose cycling team. "It's one of the most exciting things that has happened in town, to be able to race with no traffic and no cars and to focus on your ability to improve and not on just your survival. I think the safety and the aesthetics set it apart from anything else."

Ironically enough, one Thursday cycling session was marred by a crash ? and a new use for Driveway Austin was soon born.

The crash had prompted a visit by Jason Martin, a division commander of Austin-Travis County EMS Services who is also a cyclist. At the time, EMS was trying to improve driving instruction for its oversized emergency vehicles and had purchased a $100,000 skid truck, which fits underneath and around the EMS unit and allows for the safe simulation of skids at lower speeds. The problem, however, was finding a place to practice.

EMS was bounced from the old Mueller airport site when that was developed and tried Burger Center and other parking lots without finding a good fit. The Driveway Austin site has proved to be the answer ? and at no cost.

"The drivers love it," Martin said.

The track is also drawing attention from some in the auto industry. Lamborghini representatives approached Dollahite about using the track for a ride-and-drive event this month. Crews at Driveway Austin scrambled to get the track completed, a task that included construction of a tunnel linking the oval with the new course.

"This tunnel is unbelievable," Dollahite marveled at his ever-expanding facility. "It's like going from one world to another. It looks like Disneyland."


Video 1:
http://www.statesman.com/news/mplayer/m/51376

Video 2:
http://www.statesman.com/sports/mplayer/m/51246

 
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