SBD/October 3, 2011/Facilities

Work Slowdown, Potential Management Change Threatens Austin's F1 Opening Date

Austin's inaugural F1 race is set for Nov '12, but a work slowdown has officials nervous

A "noticeable work slowdown" at Austin's F1 track site and a “possible change in the track's promoter or management is raising new questions about the future of the circuit and the ability of developers to meet a tight construction schedule with the inaugural race now 14 months away,” according to Maher & Novak of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Tavo Hellmund, the promoter behind bringing F1 to Austin, last Monday called state Comptroller Susan Combs “asking whether a change in management or promoters would affect the circuit's eligibility for money from the state Major Events Trust Fund.” The state has “pledged $250 million over 10 years from the fund.” In a letter Tuesday to F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone, Combs said that “the race would still be eligible for the incentives.” Combs' letter also revealed that “major investors in the track, including Texas billionaire Red McCombs, haven't secured the rights to hold the race.” Combs in the letter revealed that Ecclestone “bestowed the rights to Hellmund, but he has not transferred them to his partners in Circuit of the Americas.” The letter also refers to “a proposed transfer of the contractual rights from Hellmund's company to Circuit of the Americas, a group that includes McCombs, [investor Bobby] Epstein and others.” Construction of the grandstands, paddock and medical center “has yet to start.” Developers have maintained that “they are still on schedule and that building will begin soon on what has grown to a 1,100-acre site” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 9/30).

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