Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So said Winston Churchill, surely anticipating the 2012 Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone announced the first race scheduled for the under-construction Circuit of the Americas track in Austin has been postponed from June 12 to Nov. 18, 2012. That makes sense, as anyone who's visited (or even read about) Texas in June could tell you.
But there's more behind this story than the current heat wave.
"We have ... moved Austin to November because it's 40 degrees (Celsius) there in summer," Ecclestone told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. "We did not want to repeat the experience of Dallas."
So what happened in Dallas? (Aside from an appearance by the city's biggest celeb at the time, soap star Larry Hagman, a.k.a. J.R. Ewing.)
On July 8, 1984, Formula One descended upon Dallas' Fair Park. The city was ready to put on a show, but the heat created a crowd of skeptics. Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet, who was still recovering from a 1982 injury but never missed an opportunity to crack a joke, said he didn't know what would break first: the track, the cars or the drivers. The temporary rubber track was so hot, rumored at 150 degrees, it began bubbling and crumbling like an overcooked pound cake before qualifying even began.
The race would normally have started at 2 p.m., but 100 degree temperatures inspired a shift to 11 a.m., meaning a warm-up at 7 a.m. French driver Jaques Laffite showed his distaste for the early morning by arriving in his pj’s. Quelle horreur!
Finnish driver Keke Rosberg won the race, which hardly any other drivers could even finish. British driver Nigel Mansell ran out of fuel. Yet he still pushed his car to the finish, ensuring a sixth place finish before collapsing from heat exhaustion.
It was a day of cinematic memories that pushed Texas to the bottom of the Formula One barrel.
Fast forward to today, and the state capital has put Texas back on the racing map. June may not be as brutal as July, but Dallas meteorologist Brad Barton, who consults with the Texas Rangers on weather, says the 2012 delay is a smart move.
"June has one of those dangers in that people may not have become as inured to the heat as they are in July or August," Barton says. "People just aren't ready for that beating sunlight and heat. If there's no shade and all they have is the beverage they carry, it could be pretty dangerous standing out in the heat."
A track that stays intact. Drivers who stay conscious. Fans who can dress fashionably in layers. Just a few more things racing fans can be thankful for come Thanksgiving next year.