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AustinF1

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  1. Dagys/Sportscar365: WEC Links Up with Formula V8 3.5; 2017 Schedule Details Emerge: http://sportscar365.com/lemans/wec/wec-link-up-with-formula-v8-3-5-announced-details-emerge-on-2017-schedule/ Austin and Shanghai are the only events not confirmed for 2017. V8 3.5 series joining WEC for 6 events, including Mexico, Bahrain, and Fuji, but not including Austin. Hmmm....doesn't look good.
  2. IMSA reveals future class format, 2017 schedule. Moves Austin stop from September to May. http://www.motorsport.com/imsa/news/imsa-reveals-future-class-format-2017-schedule-805561/ IMSA, WEC Split from Combined Event at COTA - Sportscar365 http://sportscar365.com/lemans/wec/atherton-cota-imsawec-weekend-a-compromise/ ETA: Just read (unsupported) speculation that WEC might go to Indy. Apparently they had people in attendance at this year's Indy 500. Can any of y'all confirm or deny any of that?
  3. Following news that WEC is not confirmed for 2017 at COTA, Pirelli World Challenge confirms move from March to Labor Day Weekend for 2017 Austin stop. Pirelli World Challenge - PWC: Series confirms 2017 schedule, SRO enduro http://www.racer.com/pwc/item/132583-pwc-series-confirms-2017-schedule-sro-enduro Also...Creventic Planning 24-Hour Race at COTA for 2017 - Sportscar365 http://sportscar365.com/gt/24hseries/creventic-planning-24-hour-race-at-cota-for-2017/ ETA: Intercontinental GT Challenge was moved from COTA to Laguna Seca. Didn't see that the first time I skimmed it. It doesn't say there'll be no IGTC event at COTA, but it sure doesn't look like there will be. I suspected as much when they cancelled the event they had scheduled here for 2016. So...all these pieces really make it seem unlikely to me that WEC will return to COTA in 2017, unless they do it in the spring and are still finalizing that... OBTW, those PWC boys might be in for a surprise on Labor Day weekend. It's a helluva lot hotter here that weekend than it is at the beginning of March (when it can actually be pretty chilly). It's typically at or near 100 degrees, and the hottest day I've ever experienced in Austin, 112 degrees, was on Labor Day a few years ago. COTA's not a place any sane person wants to spend long stretches at in that kind of heat. The hottest race I can remember out there was V8SC, when it was in the low 90s...and it was absolutely brutal, even for us locals. There's just no way to escape the heat out there.
  4. X Games will not return to Austin in 2017 http://www.statesman.com/news/sports/x-games-will-not-return-to-austin-in-2017/nqqKP/ The popular Summer X Games that will be staged in Austin for the third consecutive year this June will not return for a fourth year in 2017, a source with contacts at ESPN told the American-Statesman on Monday. The network is expected to make an announcement Tuesday stating that it will leave Austin for another location after this year. Charlotte, N.C., is a city known to be heavily interested in recruiting the event staged by ESPN, and Chicago and Detroit also bid on the X Games previously. This year’s X Games will be held in Austin from June 2-5. In July 2013, Austin was unveiled as the site for the X Games for four years starting in 2014. It appears the city’s run as host will be one year short of the channel’s original commitment. ESPN has reached the decision not to remain in Austin because of concern over possible recalculations of the Texas Major Events Trust Fund that has been used by the Circuit of the Americas to help underwrite the cost of the Formula One race on that site. The fund’s $25 million outlay to COTA has been reduced to $19.5 million. The X Games received $1.1 million in state incentives for the 2014 X Games, according to city documents. The circuit very nearly lost its spot on the U.S. Grand Prix 2016 calendar, but COTA chairman Bobby Epstein said it secured enough money with the state’s contribution and the settlement of a lawsuit that will save COTA about $13 million in taxes. The circuit also landed Taylor Swift as its marquee entertainment in conjunction with the race. The Major Events Trust Fund is fueled by out-of-state visitors’ sales, hotel, car rental and alcohol tax revenue. A portion of that is then allocated to help various event organizers host large events in Texas.
  5. More correction/rebuttal than retraction by ESPN, imho. (That may be how you took it too) I don't think it was anyone at ESPN who ever said pulling out had anything to do with the METF money. I thought it was interesting how quickly ESPN moved to correct that story. They seem to have gone out of their way to correct the leak that someone put out that it was all about the METF money. We've heard from the very beginning that there was friction between COTA and ESPN. It was pretty telling, imho, that they left a year before their contract was up, and that they're leaving without a new home to move to. I believe that the date was among their reasons for leaving (competing against the playoffs, heat, etc), but mostly I think they were just being nice (or just legally prudent) when saying that was their main reason for leaving. IMHO it's likely someone from COTA knew the announcement was coming , so they leaked the METF stuff the day before as a way to get in front of it and spin it as if it's all the Governor's fault for 'taking' more funding away from them ... you know, to keep pressure on him to get the most funding they can. So, COTA basically gave V8SC the boot in order to accommodate ESPN in that time slot (which was already way too hot here in Texas), and now they've left them with nothing in that slot. Karma. She's a bitch.
  6. The Summer X Games Are Really Moving Because Austin's Summers Are Too Damn Hot http://blackflag.jalopnik.com/the-summer-x-games-are-really-moving-because-austins-su-1766516749
  7. ESPN: X Games seeks new summer home in 2017 http://xgames.espn.go.com/article/15036232/ by Joshua Duplechian/ESPN March 22, 2016 - ESPN is actively engaged with and seeking interested cities in the United States to be the next host of an X Games summer event for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018, showcasing the world's best action sports athletes, internationally renowned musical acts and one of the most complete youth culture festival experiences. X Games has moved locations regularly throughout its history to celebrate and infuse the national and international elements of action sports and youth culture from each city. Full-scale X Games summer events have been hosted in nine different cities in 20 years. With the agreement between current summer event partner, Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, concluding in 2016, ESPN is opening the host city bid process to any U.S. city or commercial entity that meet the event requirements of the X Games. Interested cities can learn more about the request for proposal (RFP) process at www.xgames.com/bid. "We've been honored to call Austin home of the X Games since 2014 and are proud to have run world-class competitions for athletes, hosted amazing musicians for our fans and sponsors together with the Circuit of The Americas," said Tim Reed, vice president, X Games. "We thank COTA, the City of Austin and State of Texas for their support, and look forward to an amazing final X Games Austin event this June. Looking to the future, we're enthusiastic to identify the next X Games host city and continuing to improve and bring the franchise to new locations and fans." The final X Games event in Austin will take place at Circuit of The Americas from June 2-5, 2016. Tickets will be available for purchase beginning March 24. For more information about X Games Austin, tickets and more, visit www.xgames.com.
  8. Some pics from PWC Friday at COTA ... https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1229520967062446.1073742027.157330087614878&type=3 Just FYI if any of y'all have T1 PSL seats, the T1 stands have been shrunk and moved...
  9. Article by Shonda Novak from the Austin American-Statesman: Settlement lowers Austin F1 Circuit's Property Tax Valuation by 2/3: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/business/settlement-lowers-tax-bill-for-f1-racetrack/nqbBw/
  10. Other COTA news from the San Antonio Express-News. I can't help but think this item is related to the above story: Epstein's Prophet Capital Set to Acquire Property Tax Lending Firm co-Founded by McCombs http://www.expressnews.com/business/local/article/Austin-firm-buy-to-Propel-Financial-Services-6861849.php?t=d20f1bb6d2&cmpid=twitter-premium
  11. More bad news as USGP out-of-state attendance drops more than 33% compared to 2014: shar.es/16zxhe
  12. COTA to seek millions in additional Texas Taxpayer Funding for MotoGP, X Games: https://shar.es/1cM13Z More incentives sought for Circuit of the Americas for XGames, MotoGP Posted: 6:29 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, 2015 Email 0Facebook 2Twitter 1ShareThis 9 By Marty Toohey - American-Statesman Staff  Circuit of the Americas’ tax incentives are once again in the Austin City Council’s lap. Officials affiliated with the track want to apply for what could be a few million dollars more in state incentives, as a concession for the expense of hosting the MotoGP race and Summer X Games. Earlier this year, state lawmakers endorsed that idea, as long as Circuit of the Americas proves the events are delivering the promised boost to the state economy. +JAY JANNER Tom Schaar takes off from the top off the Big Air ramp at the Summer X Games at Circuit of the ... Read More But the City Council also has to give its blessing before the incentive application can go forward, according to the city’s economic development office, and that vote is scheduled for Thursday. The agenda posting has generated little buzz at City Hall, but some are hoping the council will revisit the tax incentive issue. “This is not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars,” said Council Member Don Zimmerman, a longtime critic of the track’s incentive deals with the state. Zimmerman said that though the money comes from state coffers, not the city’s, “It’s all public money we’re talking about, and I don’t think we should lose sight of that.” Jason Stanford, a spokesman for Mayor Steve Adler, countered that authorizing the application “doesn’t cost a dime of Austin taxpayer money.” +JAY JANNER Niccolo Antonelli, left, and Ana Carrasco practice in April at the MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas at Circuit ... Read More “The basic fact is that these two events bring in a great deal of money for the city of Austin,” Stanford said. “This is an easy yes.” (The measure seems likely to pass; Adler will be out of town Thursday but has not requested the vote be postponed so that he can vote.) The council’s discussion comes as the track’s finances have been making international news, and the additional money could buffer recent cutbacks the state made in its incentive package. In November, the American-Statesman reported that Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration had decided to reduce the incentive payments to the track for the Formula One race from the roughly $25 million a year state officials had promised to less than $20 million. The governor’s office determined that the F1 race was less beneficial to the state economy than previously believed. U.S. Grand Prix ‘subject to agreement’ on 2016 F1 calendar Circuit hasn’t paid F1 hosting fees, is given extra time Amid doubts over F1’s Austin future, Steve Adler says he wants to help State wanted to cut F1 payments even more, records show The reduced payments led Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone to declare the future of Austin’s F1 race in jeopardy. If the race were canceled, one of Austin’s most prominent civic features would be without the event (and revenue) for which it was built. The possibility prompted an outpouring on social media in favor of the track, with the #SaveCOTA Twitter hashtag. In the matter coming to the council this week, track officials want additional incentives from the state’s Major Events Reimbursement Fund, one of Texas’ most high-profile economic development programs. It arranges to pay organizers of large events — the Super Bowl and NCAA Tournament basketball games, for example — a portion of sales, hotel, car rental and alcohol tax revenue generated by out-of-state spectators. Why the future of Austin’s F1 race is in doubt That is the pot from which the F1 money comes. Track officials hope to get more money from it for hosting the MotoGP race and the Summer X Games. But to be eligible for payments, organizers need explicit permission from state lawmakers to apply for a specific event and an endorsement from a local government. Lawmakers provided that permission in the spring for both MotoGP and the X Games. That done, a “local organizing committee,” formed in 2012 to work on behalf of the city, can make its case to Abbott that the events have generated economic activity worthy of funding. Related Gallery F1 race day at COTA, 11.02.14 It is not clear how much money is at stake. Circuit of the Americas has been receiving payments from a different economic development program, the Events Trust Fund, for the X Games and MotoGP. But that is designed for smaller events and comes with lower incentives. The chairman of the city’s local organizing committee, Wayne Hollingsworth, did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment. Applying to that fund, the circuit received $1.1 million in state incentives for the 2014 X Games,according to city documents. Local organizers hope that by going through the major events program, they can secure $2.3 million for this year’s event — more than double what the smaller fund provided — according to an application filed with the state. The track would get one payment for the event per year, either from the larger fund or the smaller one. Circuit of the Americas parts ways with CEO Jason Dial In the X Games case, that application is possible because the City Council in May endorsed it. But that was a one-year arrangement; the council would still have to approve applications for the 2016 and 2017 X Games. No MotoGP application is eligible for the major events program until the council votes its approval. Local officials have already applied for $900,000 from the lesser program, in case the council does not grant that approval, according to the governor’s office. An application to the larger trust fund has yet to be filed for the MotoGP event, a spokesperson at the governor’s office said, but “hypothetically speaking, there is a potential for more funding” if the required economic impact study backs it. STATE FUNDING Officials working on behalf of Circuit of the Americas are hoping to tap Texas’ Major Events Reimbursement Program for additional funding, in exchange for the cost of hosting the Summer X Games and MotoGP. This is how much in state money those events have generated from the less prominent Events Trust Fund: • 2013 MotoGP: $1.7 million • 2014 MotoGP: $1.7 million • 2014 X Games: $1.1 million • 2015 MotoGP: $906,000* Local officials are applying for $2.3 million for the 2015 XGames from the Major Events Reimbursement Program. *Application pending, to be withdrawn if the state grants a larger request for Major Events Reimbursement Program money What we reported The American-Statesman has reported extensively on the financial incentives and economic challenges for Circuit of the Americas, including coverage last month about Gov. Greg Abbott’s officereducing the payment for this year’s Formula One race and an in-depth look last year at the reasons tracks often sell for less than they cost to build. What we reported The American-Statesman has reported extensively on the financial incentives and economic challenges for Circuit of the Americas, including coverage last month about Gov. Greg Abbott’s officereducing the payment for this year’s Formula One race and an in-depth look last year at the reasons tracks often sell for less than they cost to build.
  13. There was no actual contract according to COTA's spokesperson, quoted in this Austin American Statesman Editorial Board piece that came out yesterday. They make some good points. Interesting since the Statesman does business with COTA. http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/opinion/circuit-of-the-americas-with-no-contract-f1-is-a-r/npR66/
  14. The check's in the mail....or not

    Bernie is trying to get paid for the 2015 race, and this seems to be the only way that might happen. Notice Epstein talking about how he still can't pay unless the state pays the full $25M? Also, Adler says the City can't help COTA. Mayor: F1 can't look to Austin for US Grand Prix bailout http://www.sunherald.com/news/politics-government/article44758635.html#storylink=cpy According to that article, there's a document that says the state isn't obligated to pay the full amount and it's on the track to make up the rest in that case.
  15. Tavo Hellmund will see another F1 dream come to life in Mexico City By John Maher - American-Statesman correspondent  After departing Austin, the Formula One circus moves to Mexico City this weekend. What do the two F1 races have in common? Well, their most important connection is promoter Tavo Hellmund. “Austin is my maternal home, and Mexico City is my paternal home,” said Hellmund, whose father, Gustavo, was president of the organizing committee that brought the Mexican Grand Prix back to the F1 calendar in 1986 after a 16-year absence. The younger Hellmund was the initial driving force to bring Formula One back to the United States and to Austin. He later left Circuit of the Americas after a litigious split with partners Bobby Epstein and Red McCombs. Undeterred, Hellmund was then instrumental in bringing F1 back to his father’s country, working on the project with entertainment conglomerate CIE and financial backers. Although he kept a low public profile last week at the U.S. Grand Prix, Hellmund was there in his suite overlooking pit row, hobnobbing with friends and some of the powerful players in the Formula One world, including F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. Hellmund also chatted with the American-Statesman about the Mexico race, which he said could record a total attendance figure of 300,000 to 350,000 for the three-day event. U.S. Grand Prix organizers announced a three-day attendance total of 224,011 for the 2015 event. “Mexico was always part of the plan when I cut the deal with Bernie (Ecclestone) for Austin in 2007 at the Belgian Grand Prix,” said Hellmund, 49. “A lot of people forget that’s when Bernie and I agreed that there would be a race in Austin, even though it wasn’t officially announced until three years later. The idea was always to get the U.S. Grand Prix up and running and then to go back to Mexico. “I started working on it (Mexico) pretty heavily at the end of 2011, so it was a lot of hard work in 2012, ’13 and ’14. Really for the last eight months, I pretty much handed the keys over to CIE. They’re running the show.” Some of the challenges of putting together a Mexican Grand Prix were similar to those faced in Austin; others were dramatically different. “It was a 14-month build, which was similar to what we had in Austin,” Hellmund said. “The difference is that in Austin, we had the luxury of it being in a field. Just an open field. (In Mexico City) we had to get rid of buildings, and getting rid of that old pit building was pretty monumental.” He estimated that the cost of bringing Mexico’s storied Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez up to F1’s standards was about $85 million. In Austin, the engineers at German firm Tilke GmbH had to account for the expanding and contracting road-buckling black clay soil in Southeast Travis County. “The soil conditions in Mexico have been terrible, too,” Hellmund said. “A lot of people don’t realize Mexico City is on basically a dried-up lake bed, so they have a lot of shifting stuff, too.” The old track was notorious for its bumpiness. Tilke, which paved the Austin track, is known for concocting asphalt surfaces that are as smooth as a pool table top, but that wasn’t the plan in Mexico City. “Tilke has done a pretty good job of keeping a little of that bumpiness to give it a little bit of character. So the track is not as smooth as Austin,” Hellmund said. “That’s intentional. It was by design. The question is, did they get it just right?” Perhaps the most famous feature of the old track was the 180-degree final turn known as the Peraltada. On Formula One’s website, McLaren driver Jenson Button recalled: “I remember as a kid watching some incredible battles there, and the drivers hanging onto their cars around Peraltada, which looked mega, if a bit scary! It’s a shame that corner hasn’t been included in the new layout.” The treacherous turn has been redesigned for the new F1 race because of concerns about the lack of runoff space. It will be known as the Nigel Mansell Turn. In 1992, Mansell won the last Mexican Grand Prix in its previous form, but he’s just as well-known for a daring pass he made at the Peraltada in 1990 that allowed him to finish second behind Alain Prost. “A lot of people think that the Mexican Grand Prix has this rich history,” Hellmund said. “I don’t necessarily know that it’s a rich history. There have only been 15 Mexican Grand Prix. The United States Grand Prix, there have been over 50, but the ones that were held in Mexico produced some really good racing.” The Mexican Grand Prix was held from 1963-70 and from 1986-92. A decade ago there were plans to bring Formula One to the Mexican resort town of Cancun, but those fell apart. The return to Mexico City was initially planned for 2014 but was delayed when the Mexican government had to deal with a far more pressing issue, hurricane damage on the Pacific Coast. Mexico City’s metropolitan population is estimated at just more than 21 million, which is similar to the combined metro populations of Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and Austin. In Mexico, though, there’s no NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball for F1 to compete against, only soccer. Mexico also has a well-known F1 driver, Sergio Perez, whom fans can support. There has been speculation that the Mexican Grand Prix will hurt attendance at the Austin race, but Hellmund said, “I think those people will still come to Austin because Austin is an awesome city, a fantastic city, and, in my opinion, the best racetrack in North America is Circuit of the Americas … they should enhance each other, not hurt each other.” Although he never realized his dream of becoming an F1 driver, Hellmund has now carved out his own niche in F1 history, helping to revive the sport in two different countries. “When people rolled their eyes and said how crazy it is that there’s going to be a race in Austin, I knew what everybody else didn’t know, that it was really going to happen, and the same thing is true for Mexico City,” Hellmund said. “The event in Mexico City, I know my dad will be looking down and be really happy and proud.”
  16. According to Hellmund in this new article, it's not SoCal, and it's potentially a new track. He says Bernie is looking at a race in SoCal. He also talks quite a bit about the prospect of a Manor buyout. After F1 success in Austin and Mexico, what’s next for Tavo Hellmund? http://www.mystatesman.com/news/sports/motor-sports/after-f1-success-in-austin-and-mexico-whats-next-f/npKsz/ Tavo Hellmund knows he should be done with Formula One. After eight years of hard work, insane hours, brutal international travel, legal wrangling and almost constant stress, he has just hit motorsport’s equivalent of a walk-off home run. The recent Mexican Grand Prix he helped organize — after being ousted from his dream project of Circuit of the Americas in Austin several years ago — has been drawing praise from even the most reserved critics. +DEBORAH CANNON Tavo Hellmund has been a key player in bringing Formula One to Austin and Mexico City. If you’ve seen director Ron Howard’s 2013 Formula One movie, “Rush,” you know that Niki Lauda isn’t exactly known for tossing out verbal bouquets. Yet the blunt three-time world champion and current Mercedes chairman gushed to reporters after the Mexican Grand Prix, “It was the best I’ve ever seen in my whole life.” Hellmund, 49, knows this is as good as it gets. As a racer, he never really sniffed the big time, but he has now proved vital in bringing Formula One, the world’s premier racing series, back to the United States and his hometown of Austin, and to his father’s homeland, Mexico, after a 23-year absence. Nothing he can do from here on out can top that. + The Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on Nov. 1 was a huge hit ... Read More “Mission accomplished. I’m at peace. I’m good,” Hellmund said. He added, “I’m in the fortunate position that I don’t really need to do another project. … I plan to take a step back and really enjoy the moment, try to learn how to smell the roses that everyone keeps telling me I need to do — although I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that.” And yet, while he maintains he’s going to hit the brakes, he’s now involved with a pair of projects that, if they pan out, could change the face of F1 racing in the U.S. If he and his group of investors succeed in acquiring a struggling F1 team, Manor Marussia, Hellmund said he’ll offer a ride to none other than NASCAR’s ultrapopular Dale Earnhardt Jr. He’s also involved in a plan to create an F1 track in California, a project different from the urban street race in Southern California that Hellmund said F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is currently pursuing. Hellmund, if he slowed down, could probably smell roses or a lot of other soothing plants and flowers at the lush Spanish Oaks Golf Club, where he pulls up for lunch and an American-Statesman interview. He raves about the club but, of course, doesn’t play golf there. His sport of choice was racing — all fumes and foul smells, bone-rattling noise and frantic action. “I think I worry that maybe I can’t relax,” he acknowledges. Many times, however, his restless energy served him well in the far-flung, round-the-clock world of Formula One, where one man’s 8 a.m. start to the working day is another man’s 2 a.m. Beginning in 2007, he worked tirelessly to bring F1 to Austin and later to Mexico City, where he partnered with investors and entertainment conglomerate CIE. “The last eight years have felt like 30,’’ Hellmund said. “To do anything right in Formula One, it’s all-consuming.” Sometimes there’s a payoff. At the Mexican Grand Prix, world champion Lewis Hamilton uneventfully trailed winning teammate and rival Nico Rosberg, but hardly anyone complained about that procession. The race-day attendance was 134,850, and the three-day mark was 335,850. The crowds were not only huge; they were loud. “It did not feel like a motorsports electricity in there. It felt like a prize fight, or an SEC or Texas-OU game,” said Hellmund. Part of the charged atmosphere was created by moving the podium from its traditional place above pit row to an area in front of the baseball stadium grandstands at the park/track, which seats 40,000. Hellmund said Ecclestone was initially skeptical about the switch but was won over by the spectacle. Hellmund added that he fully expects the Mexican Grand Prix to win F1’s Race Promoters’ Trophy for the best organized event of the year. “I think Mexico City set a new bar the way we did things,” Hellmund said. “I think Bernie is pretty pleased with both Austin and Mexico City.” Ecclestone knew Hellmund’s late father, Gustavo, and has known Tavo since he was a child. Hellmund’s friendship with and his ability to work with Ecclestone has not gone unnoticed in the F1 world. “I get approached from a lot of places now — not just North America, but all over,” Hellmund said. He realizes, however, that his window of opportunity, if not closing, might be narrowing. Ecclestone recently turned 85, and the leading shareholder of Formula One, CVC Capital Partners, might finally be close to parting with its stake. No one really knows what Formula One will look like a few years from now. One possibility, however, is that the teams near the back of the grid will get a bigger share of the revenue than they do now. That’s one reason Hellmund’s investor group is looking to purchase at least a controlling interest in the Manor Marussia race team from British businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick. If that does happen, a big goal of the team would be to put an American driver on the grid. Hellmund said he’s serious about his first choice being Dale Jr., even if that seems like a pie-in-the-sky idea. A more realistic option would be his second choice, Alexander Rossi. He raced in the U.S. Grand Prix this year and has competed successfully in a couple of series that are considered steppingstones to F1. “He has the resume,” Hellmund said, adding that Rossi has done better than any American driver who journeyed to Europe with hopes of making it to F1, a path Hellmund once tried. Although the teams at the back of the F1 grid have complained about their financial plight, Hellmund said there is a way to be financially viable. “It would never be our goal to compete with the manufacturer teams. We’re never going to spend $400 million a year like Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren,” Hellmund said “But we think you can run it respectably and not be in the red. I think you can fight for fifth.” Hellmund said a fifth-place team could get $60 million or $70 million in prize money from F1, and that would cover about half of a $110 million to $120 million budget. Money from sponsors would also be key. To compete for fifth place, currently five places higher than the team’s dead last standing, Manor Marussia would need to be powered by better engines. “Manor Marussia cut a deal to be able to have Mercedes motors next year, which is a step forward as opposed to a year and one-half old Ferrari spec engine,” Hellmund said. The engine deal would have to go through and the team’s financials would have to check out for a purchase to happen in time for the 2016 F1 season. Hellmund said there’s about a 60-day window for that to happen. “I think if we get to late January or February, it may be too late, and my partners and I would probably lose interest,” he said. He said there’s a similar time frame to see whether an effort to bring Formula One to California is serious. While Ecclestone apparently has been looking at a couple of sites in Southern California, Hellmund said he was contacted about a year ago by a Northern California party interested in building a track. “They own some of the land but not all that would be required. So that’s one of the hurdles,” Hellmund said. “And then, can you get all the permits?” He said that the land would be a really good location for a track and that the German engineering firm that has built most of F1’s newest tracks, Tilke GmbH, will be checking it out. Hellmund said he would not be a principal in that project, only a consultant. “We’ll see if they have the stomach for it — I guess that’s the right word,” Hellmund said of the myriad hoops to jump through in the F1 world. There, plans for races in Las Vegas and New Jersey have faltered in recent years, but there always seems to be some group or country angling for a race. “Some people are really enthusiastic and have a decent business plan in mind. Some of them are just dreamers and actually don’t understand the undertaking, and once that’s realized, what is required, it kind of fizzles out,” Hellmund said. Both of the projects he’s currently working on could melt away within two months. Hellmund said he’d be OK with that. But after his part in bringing F1 back to the U.S. and Mexico, there will be those who will tempt Hellmund to be sucked back into that frantic world. Can he stay away? Can he really slow down and just relax? “I think we’re going to find out,” Hellmund said. “I’m certainly going to give it a good try.”
  17. A ‘tough weekend’ for Austin’s Formula 1 after rain, Mexico race By Marty Toohey - American-Statesman Staff Shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday, the city of Austin tweeted out a message urging Formula One fans not to drive out to Austin’s track for the weekend’s F1 race. Since the downpours had turned many of the lots into mud pits and the park-and-ride lots were full, a shuttle service was set up to make quick runs from the Austin Convention Center to the track. It didn’t go as smoothly as the track’s management had hoped. Fans slog through mud at Turn 1 at the F1 U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas on Sunday. (Jay Janner photo) Shortly after Lewis Hamilton won the U.S. Grand Prix in one of the closest races in modern F1 history, a large portion of the crowd — announced at just more than 100,000 — found itself waiting for buses that took as long as two hours to get them out of the lot. A stream of people were walking in the streets around the track, a relatively isolated site just east of Austin, trying to stay out of the bogs and getting in the way of the buses. “It was a tough weekend,” said Bobby Epstein, chairman of Circuit of the Americas. In a wide-ranging interview with the American-Statesman, Epstein lauded the efforts of thousands of employees and volunteers who endured the downpours, highlighted a post-race Elton John show that delighted an audience of more than 40,000, touted the race’s contribution to Austin’s economy and remained upbeat about the long-term financial potential of Circuit of the Americas. But Epstein said a confluence of problems last weekend resulted in “a financially devastating weekend for the company” that operates the track and is still losing money. Race fans endure rain while waiting for the start of F1 Practice Session 2, at the Circuit of the Americas on Friday. (Jay Janner photo) “We lost millions on concessions” that under normal circumstances race fans would have purchased, Epstein said. “And we suffered from some fans having such a bad experience they won’t be back, though I hope we can change their mind.” The main issue was the weather. More than 6 inches fell over the weekend, spun off of Hurricane Patricia, which was for a time the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere. Epstein said that on Oct. 21, as the magnitude of the upcoming weather problems became clear, Circuit of the Americas staff began scouring the region for buses to help with transportation. The Austin school district produced 40 buses to rent, in addition to those the track had already chartered for its shuttle service. Travis County rented nearby lots to Circuit of the Americas, Epstein said. And the Del Valle school district allowed the track to use its nearby high school’s lot as a shuttle pickup. “We had help from every corner of this community,” Epstein said. On Saturday, some fans who had arrived that morning found the gates closed as the qualifying rounds kept being pushed back before finally being canceled. Formula One races can run in the rain — it can add a layer of strategy — but the lightning made the cancellation necessary, Epstein said. He said track officials made the decision to delay the opening to give employees and volunteers some respite after having worked extended shifts for days in the cold, windy, damp weather. Qualifying resumed at 9 a.m. Sunday but was cut short by the weather. The rain finally cleared in the afternoon, and the race was run. Throughout the weekend, track officials posted warnings through their website and social media telling people that many of the parking lots had become unusable morasses. The roads around the track also lack sidewalks. And when many race attendees chose paid parking on the property of nearby residents, their choice was to either navigate a series of swamps or walk in the road alongside automobiles, Epstein said. On Sunday morning, that wasn’t a big problem. But when the race let out, the people walking on the roads gummed up what was meant to be “relatively quick loops for the buses” to the park-and-ride lots, Epstein said. Track officials did set up bus-only lanes in some areas, a process that took about an hour. The weather exacerbated an attendance dip that appears to have been caused by a new F1 race that will be run in Mexico this weekend. Speculation that the Mexico City event could give that country’s fans their fill of F1 racing turned out to be true, Epstein said. “The Mexico race hurt us,” Epstein said. The announced Sunday attendance of 101,667 — down from an estimated 107,778 last year and 117,429 for the inaugural 2012 race — would actually have otherwise topped last year, were it not for the race in Mexico, he said. Epstein declined to give specific figures, but he said the drop in Mexican attendance cost the track millions. The weekend was a financial setback for one of Austin’s most polarizing civic features — one beloved in some circles and hated in others. Circuit of the Americas has become a flash point in larger cultural arguments about what the Austin of the future should be. Critics have also savaged a special tax arrangement the track made with the state — an arrangement that track officials say is key to its financial survival, even if future races avoid the setbacks of this weekend. The track isn’t owned or managed by the billion-dollar F1 racing enterprise, but by an independent ownership group. Each year the track’s ownership group pays a fee to Formula One for the privilege of hosting the race. It is widely speculated that the fee is large enough that all of the sales tax revenue the state gives up, about $24 million a year, is paid to Formula One. To critics, this is a giveaway of public money. The state officials who struck the deal said it is worthwhile because the tourism generated by the race is a significant net-gain for the region’s economy. And track officials say the deal is a lifeline. Even with ticket sales and concessions, the track loses money on Formula One and the annual X Games competition. Even smaller, profitable events haven’t gotten the track’s finances into the black, because track owners are still paying off the construction debt, in addition to operating costs and other expenses, Epstein said. Austin F1 race day attendance 2015 — 101,667 2014 — 107,778 2013 — 113,162 2012 --- 117,429
  18. Oh by the way, final attendance figures for the event: Friday: 89,365 Saturday: 111,964 Sunday: 134,845 3 days: 336,174 And no, I don't think they used the COTA counting method. They had something like 20 grandstands and everything was packed.
  19. Jason Dial, president & CEO of Circuit of the Americas, is out Move comes on the heels of 'disastrous' Formula One race at COTA On the heels of a disastrous Formula One race affected by foul weather -- followed by an even worse storm that flooded parts of the track and caused additional damage -- several sources are reporting that Jason Dial, president and CEO of Circuit of the Americas, is leaving that position, apparently the latest in a long list of track executives to have come and gone. Dial was hired two years ago from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he was the marketing director, to be the track president, assisting CEO Steve Sexton. A month later, Sexton was out, and Dial assumed the CEO title. FORMULA ONE United States Grand Prix F1 race 'financially devastating' for organizerLewis Hamilton, who won the U.S. Grand Prix and his third F1 World Championship, left Austin with his childhood dream achieved, but for the race organizers, it was a horror. "It was a tough ... Dial said in an interview just after the Austin F1 race that heavy rain, coupled with the debut of the Mexico Grand Prix this past Sunday, affected ticket sales for his race. “Inclement weather is never good,” Dial told Sports Business Daily. “You maybe can sell a little bit more hot cocoa, but generally speaking your per caps are higher on sunny days.” Jason Rittenberry, the track’s newest executive, could not be reached for comment, but the current chief strategy officer, who formerly ran the International Hot Rod Association and engineered that organization’s attempted purchase of the track, is Dial’s likely successor. By Steven Cole Smith Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/formula-one/exclusive-jason-dial-president-and-ceo-circuit-americas-out#ixzz3qSidjCJa
  20. I think we could all see the writing on the wall when Epstein hired Rittenberry to be the "Chief Strategy Officer", whatever that is ... just like when he brought Dial in with Sexton still here, and like when he brought Sexton in with Hellmund still here. The revolving door continues to spin away at COTA.
  21. Unreal. Two days, over 200,000 fans. I've honestly never seen F1 crowds like what we're seeing in Mexico City. I'm truly blown away, but at the same time I know this is what we could have seen in Austin had TH not been run off.
  22. So, in a post-qualifying interview of Tavo Hellmund by Will Buxton, Hellmund stated he's working on a new project in North America that's still a couple of weeks or so away from going public. Interesting. Wonder what it is...He also said there's still a possibility of investment in an F1 team. Hellmund working on new GP project in North America http://motorsports.nbcsports.com/2015/10/31/hellmund-working-on-new-gp-project-in-north-america/ Some people are talking about Sean Kelly's tweets about his proposed San Diego F1 project as the project Hellmund referred to today. Kelly is saying that he's only talking about it now because it's dead. Today: Sean Kelly @virtualstatman 7h7 hours ago How intriguing that Tavo Hellmund says he's ready to announce another North American F1 venue..... an area of passing interest of mine.... Sean Kelly @virtualstatman 7h7 hours ago When he was bumped from the Austin project we discussed approaching Tavo about San Diego. Hopefully somebody else did! smile emoticon 10/27: We proposed this F1 layout to San Diego officials in 2011. Convention Center is a full-size pit/paddock with pitlane
  23. Important USGP Shuttle Info: The Shuttle service from downtown to COTA for the USGP is now two-tiered: $10 per person for standard service, $25 per person for 'Express' service. The "Express' bus drops you off by the Grand Plaza. The 'Standard' bus drops you off out in the boonies, a 30+ minute walk away from the Grand Plaza entrance (about twice as far as the long walk to Lot F). God help you if you take the Standard bus and your seats are anywhere but T12 or 15. You're looking at a very long walk. ****Here's the important bit, though...if you want the $10 'Standard' service, tickets are available only via online pre-order, and only through this Sunday, 18 October. After that your only shuttle option will be the $25 'Express' bus. Tickets for the Express bus will be available online and at the Convention Center on the days of the event.**** IIRC, last year the $10 tickets were available throughout the weekend at the Convention Center. Not so this year. If you want Shuttle service this year and you wait beyond the 18th to purchase it, you'll be left with no choice but to buy the more expensive $25 per person Express option. Vance has written up a nice piece covering all the shuttle and parking options for this year's USGP, with links to various COTA pages on the topic. http://racingtexas.blogspot.com/2015/10/have-you-weighed-your-2015-usgp.html If you opt for the $10 Standard shuttle, you'll be dropped off at the McAngus Road shuttle lot (the unmarked gray shape in the top left corner of this map).
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