The Formula 1 race scheduled to be held in November 2012 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas appears to have been saved, and with it, the MotoGP race the season after. After a dispute over the sanctioning fee and the terms of the contract between Formula One World Championship Limited and the Circuit of the Americas, and a game of brinkmanship between F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and CotA founding partner Bobby Epstein, the Austin facility finally buckled, wiring an advance payment to Ecclestone's organizing firm just hours before the deadline - a meeting of the World Motor Sports Council in New Delhi - and securing the contract for the F1 race.
With confirmation of a signed contract from Ecclestone, work resumed at the circuit almost immediately. Construction had originally been halted on November 15th, when the dispute between Ecclestone and CotA first blew up. A series of press releases followed, and some hard bargaining ensued. But Ecclestone held the upper hand throughout the negotiations, throwing in an announcement of another F1 race to be held in the US, the New Jersey Grand Prix at a street circuit on the banks of the Hudson River looking across to New York City. In the end, the Austin circuit appears to have acquiesced to Ecclestone's demands.
The contract was crucial for the inaugural Austin round of MotoGP due to be held in 2013. Without the F1 deal, the circuit owners did not believe the project would be viable, and construction would have been halted, and possibly abandoned. No F1 race would have meant no MotoGP round, and with the F1 deal now secured, the US now seems certain of hosting three rounds of MotoGP in 2013, as planned.
Below is the press release from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin announcing the F1 deal:
Formula 1 (TM) and Circuit of The Americas (TM) Ready to Roll
10-Year Race Contract Brings F1 Back to the U.S. in 2012; Construction to Resume Immediately
AUSTIN, Texas - December 7, 2011 - Circuit of The Americas announced today that they have reached an agreement with Formula One Management that ensures the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix remains on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship race calendar.
Red McCombs, chairman of McCombs Enterprises and founding partner of Circuit of The Americas stated, "Mr. Ecclestone received his check today. We want to thank the fans supporting us, the local officials and businesses that have encouraged us, the State of Texas, Circuit of The Americas' staff and Bernie himself. I want to thank and commend Bobby Epstein for getting us across the finish line. Bobby's perseverance and leadership kept the project on track despite unfair and unfounded criticism."
"Our investors have believed all along that this project has tremendous benefit for our region, and provides a strong economic engine for the future," stated Epstein, founding partner of Circuit of The Americas. We remain committed to reaching our goal of being valuable community partners as we establish a platform for sports and entertainment. We're glad that Tavo's vision of bringing F1 to the people of Texas will become a reality."
Engineering and construction teams working on the track will resume immediately, ensuring completion for the 2012 race date.
"We have a substantial number of fans who have expressed interest in buying tickets and hospitality, so today is a win for all of them as much as it is for Circuit of The Americas," said Steve Sexton, president of Circuit of The Americas. "We encourage everyone to visit our website and register for information. Registered fans will receive the first communication regarding ticket sales plans. In a matter of weeks we will have more exciting news as we unveil our full calendar of world class events."
Fans interested in receiving information about tickets for next year's United States Grand Prix can register their contact information at www.CircuitofTheAmericas.com. Ticket sales information will be communicated to those registered prior to general public notification.
About Circuit of The Americas
Circuit of The Americas will be a world-class destination for performance, education and business. It will be the first purpose-built Formula 1 Grand Prix facility in the United States designed for any and all classes of racing, from motor power to human power.
The master plan for Circuit of The Americas features a variety of permanent structures designed for business, education, entertainment and race use. Its signature element will be a 3.4-mile (5.5-km) circuit track. Other support buildings will include a medical facility, 14 executive meeting suites, a conference center, and a banquet hall, as well as an expansive outdoor live music space. Future proposed amenities include a driving/riding experience, a motorsports driving club, kart track, grand plaza event center and tower, and a trackside recreational vehicle park.
For more information and downloadable video, audio and photos, visit: www.CircuitofTheAmericas.com.