Second F1 race in USA ‘pipedream’ is over


Bobby Epstein most likely realised the following when speaking following the 2015 US GP in Austin he stated, “To use a technical term, I think we’re screwed.” The co-owner of COTA was referring to the financial implications for the circuit following a hurricane swept F1 weekend in the Texas capital city. That said, the attendance held up well, just 6,000 down on 2014.

Yet behind the numbers, the reality would have been clear to those allocating tickets to the fans buying in advance. The Austin based Statesman publication reveals that just over 50,000 non-Texans attended the race, down from 75,000 in 2014 and 77,000 in 2013.

Texas offers subsidiary’s for events which attract ‘out of staters’ who of course bring revenue into the state treasurer’s coffers in forms of sales tax paid on items such as food, drink and hotel accommodation. COTA did a deal with the previous governor which would see them receive $25m a year from this fund which in effect plugged the back hole in the F1 weekend finances.

Prior to the race in Austin this year, the new administration had indicated they would be cutting the COTA subsidiary to $19.5m and given the latest one third fall in out of state race going fans, this amount will be surely cut again.

Race officials have attributed the fall in non-Texans attending the race on the weather and Mexican fans choosing to attend the nearby race in Mexico City, held the weekend after Austin. If the latter is the case, then Ecclestone has some responsibility for financial difficulties COTA now faces.

Indeed this is true, following McCombs and Epstein’s eviction of Tavo Hellmund from his part in the COTA deal agreed, Ecclestone tore up the contract he’d awarded to the trio for a Formula One US Grand Prix. Ecclestone explained his thinking at the time to Adam Cooper: “Knowing that they were going to be the people bankrolling him, and knowing what happened to them [and what they did to Tavo], we don’t feel that they are reliable as they should be”.

McCombs and Epstein were eventually offered a new 10 year deal, though crucially the greedy pair omitted to ensure the agreement included the clause preventing Ecclestone back to backing the F1 COTA event with another close rival. This was a deliberate act of payback by Ecclestone for the treatment of Tavo Hellmund, the son of his good friend Gustav.

Now the future of the only Formula One race in the USA is in serious jeopardy. The event is listed as provisional on the 2016 calendar, though as yet the hosting fee for 2015 has not been paid to FOM.

Further, Bernie’s pro-Putin/Anti-American rhetoric from last autumn appears to now have some meat on the bone, as the ‘second’ US Formula One race due for imminent announcement in November remains a mystery. Even were this event to transpire, it will probably no longer be the pipedream of a second race, but again the only US based F1 event for the foreseeable future.

24 responses to “Second F1 race in USA ‘pipedream’ is over

  1. I know you hate me as much as you love me for this, but: don’t you think it’s a little bit odd to have an article titled “SECOND F1 RACE IN USA ‘PIPEDREAM’ IS OVER” that actually is roughly 95% about COTA, the _only_ current F1 race in the US and the only thing actually referring the hypothetical second F1 race in the USA is the final alinea, which does not actually state that “the ‘pipedream’ is over” but an educated _guess_ (one that I think is correct, btw, but a guess with a decent chance of being right does not equal the conclusion that the pipedream is over) mixed with an yet another unnecessary sneer at Bernie and Putin (*), all without quoting any sources?

    Just trying to help …

    (*) I think most of us readers and lurkers know by now that you think Bernie is satan incarnated and should be done something horrible to, if possible with lots of tiny forks and knives … seriously, we know it now.

        • Do you mean that you have verified it and that you are glad or that you would be glad if it were verified ? I don’t see any posts to indicate anything other than that the usual contributors (who have been reducing in number in recent months) are not currently contributing articles.

    • good post Conzo77!!
      in all due respect Judge, none of us are walking in your shoes and do not know the issues… BUT, seriously, the issues of this site being massively and inconsequentially irrelevant have been seething with stupidity and click-baiting and sheer quietness since the Summer Break.
      and never once have you offered a singular wee bit of transparency as to possible or needed re-organization!!!
      somehow, you have maintained a small but awesome group of comment providers…

      but seriously, dude. since the Summer break, your experimental “fan-based” AND non-accredited blog has been and is ignorant and worthless…

  2. I had the privilege of seeing both Indy and COTA US-GP’s and the COTA track and facility, while a bit rough the first year, really is first-rate. Indy obviously can do a good job too, because they are used to huge crowds bigger than F1, but the track kind of….sucked. Turns 1 and 2 were good, but COTA is good in many many places. The road course at Indy is more of an after-thought.

    Anyway, it still stands that the US is the 1st or 2nd most-relevant market to the manufacturers, even Renault via Nissan. I cannot believe that F1 thinks it can turn its back on the US market OVER and OVER again. This is one place where you could actually make in-roads and GAIN market share from the left-turn boys. And as for GDP, well we rock that too.

  3. The one thing that everyone keeps wrongly reporting , is on the state payment.
    There was never an agreement to pay 25 million dollars. The 25 million dollar figure, is the max amount the fund can pay out. The only agreement was, the race would qualify for the fund.
    The payment was decreased because , after looking at the economic impact, the race did not generate the money to warrant the max return.
    The fact that Cota will live or die, by the 6 million dollar difference, should prove what a piss poor business model, Booby Epstein deployed!
    Rather than leaving a mark on the racing world, as on of the most venerable tracks in the world, Bobby Epstein will be used as the perfect example of, how not to do things.

    • The thing that continues to get reported wrong is that this is a subsidy. The State of Texas doesn’t have a line item in their budget for this our any large event. The event itself generates the sale taxes which are then rebated back.

      Bobbie has made some mistakes BUT the people still come.

      What needs to happen is the power of Formula One that doesn’t include Bernie needs to get rid of Bernie or at the very least, get him to understand that the promoters need to make money or these great tracks will continue to disappear.

  4. Unless F1 has another US track ready to host an F1 race, they need to find a way to keep running at COTA. Regardless of his feelings towards McCombs and Epstein, Bernie/CVC should lower their fees. The teams need the US market for sponsors. Whatever money they lose from the race fees they will make back by getting sponsors exposure to the US market. If sponsors get US exposure there is more reason to invest in F1 and its teams.

  5. I live in California. A west coast f1 race is decades away.

    What comes first the chicken or the egg?

    Which is the chicken? COTA or decent TV coverage in the US?

    Frankly beef up the coverage and the rest will work itself out. We could have 5 races on this continent.

    Why am I the only one at work who knows what COTA stands for?

    • Given CotA is technically a Tilkedrome, the worst thing about the circuit is the name.

      But whilst bland and uninspired by name, it still produces the best racing of all the modern tracks.

      Plus it’s in a cool city that hosts a variety of cultural events and other interesting stuff not normally associated with the state that acquitted Bobby Durst and deliberately makes it hard for citizens to access their Roe v Wade rights.

      • Technically, it is not a Tilke drone .
        Tilke had absolutely nothing to do with the design. They are the engineering firm that engineered the construction of someone else’s design
        And as far as Roe v Wade, if you’re still oblivious as to where babies come from, there are still plenty of places to get abortions.

  6. Judge,

    The prevalence of misleading article titles like the one here or the article on the demise of the 2nd USA GP will eventually lead me not to click on any new article entries again. I understand that the winter break means a slow news cycle but there is plenty of other articles you could publish. For example, how about historical article series? I enjoyed the series on “the best F1 driver who never won a champion title”.

    • It’s hard to run a site with volunteers (been there once).

      But the one thing you never want to do is reduce the quality of the content in favour of some possible new readers.

      However, except for the titles and the in my view too high number of articles analysing why Hamilton might suck this year, I still like most of the content.

      Just sayin: take your community serious, they will drive your succes.

    • The best F1 driver not to win a WDC (although hugely interesting) has been done to death, how about an article on the worst F1 driver that DID win a world championship title?

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