For most of 2012, one question loomed large over Austin: What will the city's first United States Grand Prix be like?
As 2012 began there was still a lot of work left at the Circuit of the Americas. A great deal of work and hundreds of millions of dollars later, the track would be completed in time, but the facility was only part of the Formula 1 equation.
In July Austin city leaders went to London to the get a firsthand look at a Grand Prix. What they saw had them worried.
"Just imagine traffic stopped. Just stopped and people just standing outside their cars," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
The trip also inspired planners to reach out to local businesses.
The first race at the Circuit increased the level of uncertainty about traffic.
In an effort to prepare for the crowds, city, county, state and federal agencies teamed up and activated the Austin's Emergency Operations Center.
"Even the best laid plans are not fool proof," Austin City Manager Marc Ott said ahead of the race.
As the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix approached, Formula 1 fans from more than 50 countries flooded Central Texas.
At times, traffic was bad, but much more manageable than most expected. Despite big promises by local leaders, some local businesses never saw the crowds they were expecting.
The total financial impact of the race is still being calculated, but initial returns looked good enough for the state to rebate race organizers close to $30 million.
Since the U.S. Grand Prix, the City of Austin has incorporated the area around the Circuit of The Americas, bringing the track—and all the tax revenue it generates—under the city's umbrella.