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Local hotels prepare to lodge F1 visitors

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TWC News: Local hotels prepare to lodge F1 visitors
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It's common for the No Vacancy sign to be lit at the iconic Austin Motel on South Congress.

The motel has called the area home since 1938 and often attracts those seeking an authentic Austin experience. Day Manager Michelle McCormick says her 41-room motel only books reservations three months out, but Formula One fans filled every room within a half hour.

"It's fun to talk about shops in the neighborhood, really excellent restaurants because they are individual. They are unique," McCormick said. "Formula One is a new event to Austin but because we have South by Southwest and ACL, it doesn't really throw us."

McCormick says many of her Formula One guests will be visiting from Europe, but she says that's common all year long. Austin Motel raised its rates a bit for the F1 weekend. McCormick said it was a necessity to bring additional staff on hand.

A few fans looking for a break from the fast-paced nature of Austin turned to Overlook Lodge in Buda. Denise Marks says her guests reserved all four cabins in May 2011. At the time, she didn't even consider they'd be attending the race.

"I had no clue. I mean, I'd heard of Formula One, but I had no clue how huge of a deal it was,” Marks said.

Marks said her guests are visiting from other parts of the U.S. and plan to make a week-long vacation out of the race. Along with cooking breakfast for her guests every morning, she plans to incorporate a little Formula One flare and show off her Texas pride.

"I think a lot of people get this idea about Texas -- they think sage brush and desert. It's nice when they come. A lot of them are surprised. They are like, 'Wow. We didn't expect this in Texas,’" Marks said.

November will be a chance for her to show off why she calls Texas home while accommodating race fans seeking serenity after the race.

The United States Grand Prix runs Nov. 16 - 18. Event organizers expect the 300,000 visitors to Central Texas to be staying in hotels as far north as Temple and as far south as San Antonio.

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