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January 20, 2015

Here's The Inside Dirt On X Games Austin Construction

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In a few months, Circuit of The Americas will be transformed into a massive celebration of action sports, live music, tricks, flips and sick kicks.

Everywhere you turn, someone will be soaring, twisting and turning on multiple courses set up throughout the 1,500-acre facility, which also hosts Formula One and MotoGP.

The return of ESPN’s X Games to Austin will bring some familiar action-sports favorites, including Big Air, park and street courses, motocross and BMX dirt courses.

There will also be two new disciplines: Moto X QuarterPipe and Big Air Doubles.

But before the crowds show up and the athletes begin doing what they do best, a team of workers will create all of the ramps, jumps and courses needed throughout the four-day competition, set for June 4-7.

Last year, more than 11,000 cubic yards of dirt were brought in to create courses for the motocross, BMX dirt and rally racetracks. To protect the circuit’s asphalt, which is specifically designed to Formula One’s exacting specifications, crews laid down plastic sheets, carpet and plywood before putting down dirt or other structures.

Building the street and park courses, which last year were set along the main straight, started with a skeleton of hundreds of steel tubes onto which a mold made of foam or wood was placed. A layer of temporary concrete a few inches thick was then poured over the mold, which was then decorated by SprATX, a local collection of street artists and muralists.

Perhaps the most impressive structure, certainly the tallest, is the eight-story mega ramp, where BMX and skateboard riders perform some of the biggest high-flying tricks.

The entire structure is 360 feet long, with a starting point 83 feet above the ground. The structure is built using steel tubes as a frame onto which plywood is placed. The surface is then covered in a smooth paper-composite material called Skatelite.

All told, turning Circuit of The Americas into an action-sports wonderland takes about three weeks, with teams working from sun up to sundown.

Tickets for the 2015 X Games Austin go on sale Jan. 23 at

If you can’t wait until then, catch all the winter action-sports action at X Games Aspen this week.

Or you can check out the video below.

Photos: Dave Doolittle/Circuit of The Americas

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