Circuit of The Americas and TreeFolks partner to bring ‘Vettel Grove’ to life in Southeast Austin
AUSTIN, TX – On Thursday, Feb. 23, Circuit of The Americas (COTA) and Austin non-profit TreeFolks planted hundreds of native saplings and trees in Richard Moya Park to honor now-retired racing legend Sebastian Vettel.
As part of a broader awareness initiative, COTA reached out to Del Valle neighbor TreeFolks. The organization’s mission to restore green space, regrow native trees, and educate Austinites on the urban forest ecosystem aligned with COTA’s goal of simultaneously honoring a legendary F1 driver, preserving the local Austin ecosystem, and leaving a lasting legacy.
During the 2022 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix, the two organizations hosted a ceremony with special guest Sebastian Vettel, announcing the creation of Vettel Grove: A cluster of 296 trees, planted on COTA’s campus and within Richard Moya Park, to celebrate the 296 races of Vettel’s career and pay homage to his dedication to environmental sustainability. After Chairman and Founder Bobby Epstein commended Vettel for his contributions to the sport and his efforts to champion sustainability and human rights, the four-time Formula 1 World Champion graciously thanked COTA and generously offered to match this donation with another 296 trees.
The significance of the tree plantings was not lost on COTA’s Vice President of Motorsports and former Formula 2 World Champion, Andy Soucek. “It means so much to have a dedicated green space that honors not only Vettel’s legendary career, but also his environmental efforts outside of racing. As a driver myself, I raced against Vettel during our early years. His humility and compassion blended with his relentless pursuit of racing success…was always something to look up to. He is so deserving of an honor like this. I’m glad to be a part of a team who recognizes extraordinary people in a way that is conscientious, and also benefits our planet,” said Soucek.
The planting on Feb. 23 brought more than 40 COTA staff, TreeFolks staff, and local volunteers to Richard Moya Park. Ground was broken just after 9 a.m. CST, after volunteers were split into groups and given a step-by-step informational session from horticulture professionals. Volunteers were educated about each type of sapling and how to plant them, ensuring they are given the best chance for survival and longevity.
“The Vettel Grove has been our most ambitious project, so far. As the trees mature, they will provide a lasting benefit to the community by cleaning the air, lowering summer temperatures, reducing flooding, and sequestering carbon. We are so grateful for this partnership and look forward to continuing, and growing more trees in the future,” said Ben Bertram, TreeFolks Program Director.
About COTA: Circuit of The Americas is the premier destination for world-class motorsports and entertainment in the United States. Set on 1,200 acres in the rolling hills just outside downtown Austin, Circuit of The Americas has hosted the biggest names in racing, action sports and music since 2012. At its heart is a 3.41-mile racetrack that was designed to challenge the world’s most exacting competitors while providing a thrilling spectacle for audiences.
About TreeFolks: TreeFolks’ mission is to empower Central Texans to build stronger communities through planting and caring for trees. During the course of TreeFolks’ 34-year history, 3 million trees have been planted, 170,000 trees have been distributed to local neighborhoods, over 21,000 volunteers engaged, and both children and adults have been educated about planting, protecting, and sustaining trees. What started as a small group of Austinites planting trees together has grown into a multifaceted organization tackling climate change regionally. TreeFolks is committed to working in disinvested neighborhoods and focusing resources in high-priority, low canopy areas to help Austin’s urban canopy grow equitably and sustainably.