Circuit of the Americas Track Signage - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
There is no joy in Austin, TX, which is intending to hold its first Formula One race in November of 2012. With a partially outlined race circuit and squabbles between the promoter, Tavo Hellmund, and the contractors intending to build the track, things are looking edgy for an F1 race next year--if at all.
A press release by Circuit of the Americas on November 15th stated construction has been suspended pending race contract delivery. "The race contract between Formula One and Circuit of the Americas has not been conveyed to Circuit of the Americas per a previously agreed upon timetable," the statement reads.
The track's construction has proceeded "as scheduled" the release notes, "With over 300 workers at the construction site daily. The delivery of the Formula One Grand Prix race contract will allow construction operations to resume."
Bobby Epstein, a founding partner of the racetrack said he'd spent "tremendous resources preparing for the Formula One and MotoGP (in 2013) championship races, but the failure to deliver race contracts gives us great concern."
The local American-Statesman newspaper reported the possibility of a split between Full Throttle Productions, led by Hellmund and the track's investors in September. Red McCombs, chairman of McCombs Enterprises and a founding partner in the track said, "It is in the best interest of all parties to reach a timely resolution. Local businesses, fans and the State of Texas are counting on us."
In September Hellmund contacted the Texas state comptroller to ask whether a change in management or promoters would affect the eligibility for funding from Texas' Major Events Trust Fund. Comptroller Susan Combs responded that the race would still be eligible--in a letter to Bernie Ecclestone, who controls the running of all F1 races. Her letter to Ecclestone revealed that the major track investors haven't secured the rights to hold the race.
In Abu Dhabi for last weekend's Grand Prix, Ecclestone commented to Autosport.com about the split between the promoter and track constructors. "There are two parties," Ecclestone said. "One is building a track, the other has the contract and they've forgotten to talk to each other."
While the bickering continues in Texas, Ecclestone has moved to embrace the New Jersey Grand Prix of the United States for 2013; it was his first choice all along.