• May 28, 2010
There has been no shortage of entrepreneurs over the last couple of decades hoping to play host to a Formula One race. But as many of them have discovered, hopping into bed with Bernie Ecclestone is a surefire way to prove Roger Penske's motorsports maxim: "The quickest way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with large fortune."

Tavo Hellmund and his team at Full Throttle Productions have some mighty big dreams for a new dedicated F1 race track in Austin, Texas. So far, however, they don't seem to have land, financing or much of anything else. The owners of the Donington Park track in England already had a track and more time to get ready to host the British Grand Prix and they still failed.

According to ESPN columnist Terry Blount, the $200-300 million estimate for the track seems very low compared to the $250 million spent on Texas Motor Speedway – a facility that was built 15 years ago. The odds of a brand-new track being ready for a race in Austin by 2012 seem pretty slim unless the cash starts flowing and the bulldozers start moving the dirt very soon. Now, a street course, on the other hand...

[Source: ESPN F1 | Image: JJWright85 via CC 2.0]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is stupid on countless levels. Why would you build a new and boring tilke track instead of modernising a classic american track? There are many great tracks in America where racing takes place all the time and there is a great racing tradition. Why would you take F1 to Austin Texas? Even if they succed in having a race there, for how many seasons will it be on the calendar with the attendace/sponsorship expected there?

      This has the USF1 failure marks all over it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bernie thinks Silverstone is "too rural" imagine his reaction to Road America! Plus the WI county restricts crowd levels for RA. Road Atlanta is a bit less "rural" but that track would need serious FIA upgrades & would probably rob it of its charm/ character As for the Glen, the old owners stiffed Bernie, & again wat too "rural" for him.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Doesn't building a track from scratch cost a lot of money?"
      "Well, yea. But Bernie will eat this idea up for dinner"
      "Well, we don't have any money, or land right now, how do you propose to remedy that?"
      "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

      This would make a great Dilbert clip.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Barber motorsports park is gorgeous and I believe it already meets F1 specs. At least that is what I heard when they built it about 7 years ago.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It doesn't - per se. There are plans to build a longer back straight so the cars can reach a much higher top speed then is capable now and it will be used as a landing strip. However, Bernie has already said the track is too slow and the venue and city too small and won't consider bringing F1 here.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sounds like they're taking things pretty seriously:

      "But Austin promoter Tavo Hellmund, reportedly a friend of Ecclestone's for decades, said he is not worried about the tight schedule for 2012.

      'If it (the date) slides back, it slides back,' he said."
        • 4 Years Ago
        According the Formula1.com...Texas will be the home of the 2012 United States Grand Prix. They have reached a deal with F1's Commercial Rights Holder, and Bernie Eccelstone has even announced this location as the home for the US Grand Prix

        http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2010/5/10824.html

        And all I can say is hell yes. I live in AZ, and have always wanted to visit an F1 race...now it's a short flight or a nights drive from me!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why all the Austin hate?

      Austin hosts a fair few events year around, the two major ones are SXSW and ACL, and several smaller ones catering to all walks of life. F1 coming here would be amazing and given the diverse population here as well as the relatively nearby populations of Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, you would have a nice, built-in live audience at the tracks.
      • 4 Years Ago
      First of all the proposed track location is supposed to be along SH 130 which would probably place it in Austin's Extra Territorial Jurisdiction, which is no zoning powers over, or in an unincorporated area of Travis County which provides even less control by the city. Second this track will be on the eastern side of town which does not have Edward's Aquifer that feeds into Barton Springs under it. That is it is in the preferred growth corridor that has been ignored for decades b/c people want to live in the more scenic, hilly parts of Austin called the hill country.

      As far as Austin's snobbery and supposed intellectualism is concerned that is completely subjective. However for a long time this was a mostly college town that has since diversified. I won't talk numbers but if you look at some key stats like per capita incomes and % of population with degrees Austin is usually at or near the top in Texas. Of course most of the people here now did not grow up here (like me) so that may be a big part of it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      One of my customers described Austin as an oasis of progressive intellectualism and culture in the middle of hick-land. She claimed it was one of the best places she had ever lived out of San Fran, LA, DC...

      Anyway, it seems that hosting the only GP in the States, would really put this up-and-coming city on the map.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I love how progressive intellectuals can prejudicially refer to millions of people as hicks. More like self-proclaimed intellectuals.

        I have live in several parts of Texas including blue-collar areas and Austin. Austin leads the state in smugness, I will say that. But to say that Austin has some exclusivity to intellectuallism here is nonsense. Houston is home to one of the most advanced medical industries in the world as well as the energy capital of the world, bunch of dumb hicks. Dallas-Fort Worth has an enormous tech industry as well as defence industry, bunch of dumb hicks. I guess the folks from Houston and Dallas should learn to toot their own horn better.

        Between ignoran hicks who just want to live their own life and ignorant psuedo-intellectual progressive types who want to run everyone else's life - I'll take the hicks.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, yes, it is the center of hippiedom down here in Texas. Unfortunately, all the skyscrapers they've built have spoiled all the decent views of the capitol.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "progressive intellectualism and culture"

        In other words, elitist snobs who think they are better than everyone else because they went to college, drink overpriced coffee, and listen to NPR.
        • 4 Years Ago
        To Azzo: Actually from what I have found, Texas pays more in federal taxes than it receives.
        http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/266.html
        • 4 Years Ago
        While is very liberal compared to the rest of Texas, it is very different from the commie communities in California. People are still proud, independently minded Texans.

        I lived in Austin four years and loved it.

        I consider myself conservative, but probably don't perfectly fit that mold. I'm extremely fiscally conservative as far as the federal government is concerned, but I enjoy nice things like parks, libraries, schools, etc., so I don't mind paying higher taxes for higher spending at the local level. I think the federal government should be limited to doing the things smaller governments can't. Local spending is much more accountable. People are much more likely to know their government officials personally and those officials take a personal stake in their communities.

        I always thought that a small federal government, with local communities left to provide the services that their citizens wanted would allow people to locate in a community that best suited them. Somehow I think that is what the framers of the Constitution wanted.
        • 4 Years Ago
        scraejtp: I respect your numbers... but they are 5 YEARS old! My state of Michigan has serious unemployment & like Texas has surly become a tax "burden".

        I need to find a link... as I have to admit that my Texas comments came from a story of Gov. Rick Perry & seceding from the USA. One of the pundants barked out "let 'em leave" & threw out the fact that Perry's hate of the current Federal government was a bit hollow (as they don't reject Uncle Sammy's assistance).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ya carsalesman, there is a lot, and I mean a lot of left coast dumb in Austin. And by hicks does she or do you mean the real folks that make Texas work and not a bankrupt state as you find in the Meccas of the 'progressive intellectualism' ?
        As for the track and race, I do not see that happening. Land is expensive and very restricted (see left coast dumb above). The greens would be out in numbers (see left coast dumb above). Jobs and people going to work would not slow the protest of the progressive intellectualism crowd. You might refer to them as the ‘we are smarter and better than you crowd.’
        Sincerely, just a hick
      • 4 Years Ago
      A 2012 completion date would be challenging with enthusiastic support that is not likely to come from Austin. This city is the most ecologically sensitive town between the coasts if you ignore Boulder. With respect to a new track, the required ecological studies and the consequential law suits will take far more years than Bernie has left on this earth. While Austin's topography has many street course possibilities it has no better chance than the new track option. Between now and 2012 there will be several local elections. These proposals will have no problems in riling up the locals and forcing any potential supporters to seek cover.

      Perhaps these rubes think that they will get public funding similar to deranged actions of cities desperate for new NFL stadiums. If you can't get public support for the concept do you think you could still get public funds?

      Sounds like the organizers are merely trying to dupe investors into funding a project that will yield nothing formidable other than a few paychecks.

      Austin is a wealthy city and I expect that the majority of its residents firmly believe that "Austin don't need no stink'n Formula 1".
      • 4 Years Ago
      They have already announced that they have the funding, they optioned the land 3 years ago and that the roadways and water/power have already been permitted.

      You'd think someone might google this before posting.

      http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/83928
        • 4 Years Ago
        No he didn't, not really.

        http://www.statesman.com/news/local/is-formula-one-coming-to-austin-709355.html

        He says he did option some land. Optioning land is quite cheap though.

        As to funding, he points to a government program which will reimburse cities that apply (major events fund). This is not his funding, it's government funding.

        He refused to announce his financial backers and he appears to be slightly lowballing the costs of building the track.

        This isn't a very rosy picture. And it's all predicated on getting a very expensive track built that even the spokesman knows will take the full 9 years to pay back its cost if at all. How do you find backers for that? It seems like it'll be pretty tough right now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Good find!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Please don't let anyone at this firm http://www.wilsonmotorsport.com have ANYTHING to do with the track designs.

      I have disliked every track I have ever run by them!!

      Maybe they can get some advice from USF1 about completing big impossible projects with too little itme and not enough money???

      Good luck..hope it happens...not holding my breath.

      Ric


      P.S. I'll take the "Hicks" any day. I'll live anywhere they serve REAL sweet tea. Woo hoo she liked Austin compared to the progressive elite hell holes that are "San Fran, LA, DC." Please stay there....
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't see how they can get a decent road course up and running in less than two years. There are some folks with money around Austin (like Michael Dell), so I wonder who's bankrolling this thing.

      Hell, maybe Bernie has just gone completely senile, and the whole thing is something he made up. Who knows?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Come On Austin Dont screw this up. time to show the world that were about more than oil and rodeos!
    • Load More Comments
    Advertisement
    2014 Jeep Cherokee
    MSRP: $22,995 - $30,095
    2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
    MSRP: $51,800 - $103,200
    2014 Chevrolet Cruze
    MSRP: $17,520 - $24,985