Austin's F1 circuit.

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Fred_C_Dobbs
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Austin's F1 circuit.

Post by Fred_C_Dobbs »

The Statesman reported in June -- IIRC -- that there was a construction slowdown on the "Circuit of the Americas." Then a month or so later came the report that the access road was being widened and was impassable by the vehicles needed for "vertical construction" (grandstands, towers, etc). Not clear that the highway problem was the cause of the earlier-reported slow-down. Now this. Could be much ado about nothing, could be signs of a mutiny.

Slowdown raises questions about future of F1

By John Maher and Shonda Novak
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Updated: 11:10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011
Published: 10:49 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011

A noticeable work slowdown at Austin's Formula One racetrack 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.

On Monday, promoter Tavo Hellmund 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.

Combs said the race would still be eligible for the incentives in a letter Tuesday to Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. Combs' letter revealed that major investors in the track, including Texas billionaire Red McCombs, haven't secured the rights to hold the race. Ecclestone bestowed the rights to Hellmund, but he has not transferred them to his partners in Circuit of the Americas, according to Combs' letter.

On Thursday, Ecclestone, Hellmund, McCombs and Rad Weaver, McCombs' point person on the project, did not respond to calls or emails from the American-Statesman. Another investor, Bobby Epstein, declined to comment.

Ecclestone's London-based company stages Formula One racing events in cities like Montreal; Monte Carlo, Monaco; and next year, Austin.

Combs' letter to Ecclestone refers to a proposed transfer of the contractual rights from Hellmund's company to Circuit of the Americas, a group that includes McCombs, Epstein and others.

The letter states, "Should the proposed assignment be consummated, the State of Texas, through this agency, looks forward to working with the Circuit of the Americas to bring the Formula One United States Grand Prix to Texas in 2012."

Brooke Botello, a spokeswoman for the comptroller, said Combs didn't ask Hellmund why there might be such a change.

What's unclear is how a change, any change, would affect a race estimated by some to have a $300 million annual economic impact on the area. Work has slowed dramatically at the 3.4-mile track in the past few months. Construction of the grandstands, paddock and medical center has yet to start.

Developers have maintained they are still on schedule and that building will begin soon on what has grown to a 1,100-acre site.

On Monday, Weaver, CEO of McCombs Partners, said in an email, "We are as committed as ever to the project and are encouraged by the growing interest."

Hellmund pitched the project to Combs for two years in more than 20 meetings before the race was announced in May of last year. Since then, Hellmund has been the face of the project.

Hellmund is a founding partner of Circuit of the Americas, yet a little more than two weeks ago told the American-Statesman he had begun doing consulting work for groups hoping to attract a Formula One race to Mexico, Argentina and South Africa. At that time he mentioned that he was basically a race promoter and that his work in Austin was almost done. He then quickly added: "The U.S. Grand Prix is the most important thing. … The next thing is to promote the U.S. Grand Prix."

Hellmund is an Austin native and a former race car driver. His father, Gustavo, played a key role in bringing Formula One back to Mexico in the 1980s. As a teenager, Tavo worked for a Formula One team owned by Ecclestone. Hellmund's long-standing relationship with the 80-year-old Ecclestone had been considered key not only in attracting a Grand Prix but in dealing with Ecclestone during the length of the race contract, which runs from 2012 to 2021.
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LewEngBridewell
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by LewEngBridewell »

Since when does a new venue NOT have doubts these days? :rolleyes:
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by Drthjustice »

All I get from that is that Hellmund is trying to pass the rights to hold the race from himself the the investors of the track. It clearly states that he's looking to get involved in bringing F1 to other places. I wouldn't read anymore into this then what it says. People don't realize that Tavo Hellmund is a race promoter not a major investor in the track and facility. So it makes since for the rights to the race be in the hands of the owners and not the promoter.
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by myownalias »

I'm still baffled as to why they decided to build a whole new track in such a short timescale when there are many great tracks in the United States already, they may not be upto F1 standards but surely bringing them upto scratch will be cheaper, easier and less time consuming?
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by Rattlehead22 »

myownalias wrote:I'm still baffled as to why they decided to build a whole new track in such a short timescale when there are many great tracks in the United States already, they may not be upto F1 standards but surely bringing them upto scratch will be cheaper, easier and less time consuming?
Agreed. I'd love to see an F1 race at Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca, or Road Atlanta. I mean they race ALMS at most of those tracks, so I imagine it wouldn't be too overly expensive to update them to F1 standards. And like you said certainly much less expensive than building a whole new track.
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by f1usa »

Drthjustice wrote:All I get from that is that Hellmund is trying to pass the rights to hold the race from himself the the investors of the track. It clearly states that he's looking to get involved in bringing F1 to other places. I wouldn't read anymore into this then what it says. People don't realize that Tavo Hellmund is a race promoter not a major investor in the track and facility. So it makes since for the rights to the race be in the hands of the owners and not the promoter.

Hellmund is playing both sides, the investors and is in bed with Bernie. Hellmund is also the managing partner of Full Throttle Productions, LP but hasn't given investors the rights to hold the race. The same thing will happen to investors in Mexico, Argentina and South Africa. If Tavo isn't carefull somebody will take him up for a helicopter ride.
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by bud »

Well if it's not ready looks like Redbull have an unfair advantage if they end up racing on dirt :hehe:
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by What's Burning? »

Meh, I find myself without a bit of emotion on this.
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by darwin dali »

What's Burning? wrote:Meh, I find myself without a bit of emotion on this.

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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by bud »

What's Burning? wrote:Meh, I find myself without a bit of emotion on this.



why not? Even Spock is concerned.

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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by What's Burning? »

It just all seems like a big Mistake, I was watching ALMS last weekend at Road Atlanta and there are so many great circuits stateside that could have been upgraded for a fraction of the cost. Plus the real kicker it that given choice to attend a GP in North America it's still economically better for me to go to Montreal rather than Austin.
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by killem2 »

In terms of long lasting support, if this puts F1 back on the map, texans, in general as a fan base are EXTREMELY loyal.
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by Fred_C_Dobbs »

Embargo over?

Construction on F1 track resumes

By John Maher
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Updated: 10:12 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011
Published: 8:07 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011

Construction resumed Tuesday at the Formula One race track being built southeast of Austin after a near-stoppage that lasted for weeks, a delay that raised questions about the future of the $300 million project.

"We just started back today," Max Chapman, construction manager for the project, said Tuesday. Chapman said contracts in excess of $100 million were authorized Tuesday and should cover most of the remaining construction.

"That's mechanical, electrical, concrete frame, all phases of the project," he said. "It's the last big piece."

On Tuesday morning, at least two pieces of heavy equipment were transported through the main entrance to Circuit of the Americas, and Chapman said more equipment will be arriving this week, a total of 21 machines in all.

Chapman said work on the foundation of the grandstand would begin in about a week and a half, but the first big project would be fill work on the 3.4-mile circuit. Although the land on the 1,100-acre site has been cleared and sculpted, additional soil will have to be trucked in.

The black soil at the site, sometimes called gumbo clay, has proved more unreliable than builders first thought.

The clay expands and contracts with changes in the weather, which is one reason why driving on the roads bordering the track can resemble riding on a roller coaster.

Chapman said initial plans were to compact the soil, but engineers couldn't get consistent results .

"Sometimes it would compact good, and 100 yards away it wouldn't," Chapman said.

Now, plans call for more-stable soil to be trucked in by Ranger Excavating and used to fill to a depth of nine feet before the 11-inch thick asphalt track is built.

The change comes with an additional cost of about $1 million.

"We can lay asphalt year 'round in Austin," said Chapman, who added the asphalt work could begin shortly after Christmas.

He said construction was on schedule and current plans call for five-day work weeks. Not long after construction began in December, workers were on the site six days a week.

"It was going great guns for a while," Chapman said. "For the last couple weeks, until we got our bookwork done, it was a trickle, and it slowed almost to a stop the last three or four days."

About the only person on the site Monday, and for the past few weeks, was a guard at the entrance gate, according to Karina Torres.

She runs Torres Taqueria, a stand that sits directly across a street from the workers' parking lot, which was empty Monday when an American-Statesman reporter stopped by.

For weeks the site has been an eerie moonscape, acres and acres of bare, graded earth, but one with little activity and no buildings being erected.

The circuit is scheduled to host its inaugural U.S. Grand Prix on Nov. 18 of next year. The provisional race date was first announced as June 17, and the switch has given developers some extra time.

A spokesperson for the circuit said it now has vertical permits from the county for the buildings.

Meanwhile, part of the $1.5 million facelift to a five-mile stretch of FM 812 was completed last week, although more base work remains to be done on the road, which was widened to add a turn lane near the track entrance.

Chapman said work on FM 812 would not affect construction at the track, which he said would accelerate quickly.

"We're really going to have some fun when we get it built," Chapman said.
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LewEngBridewell
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by LewEngBridewell »

Yet another false alarm then? :rolleyes:

Just like the one that's sizzling away in India right now, because some farmers are disgruntled about the use of their land. :hehe:
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Re: Trouble brewing for Austin's F1 circuit?

Post by Fred_C_Dobbs »

Earlier reports that construction had resumed were wrong. The circuit were only issued the necessary building permits for the "so-called" vertical construction less than a week ago.

County issuing permits for building work at F1 circuit

By Dave Doolittle | Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 02:38 PM

County officials today are issuing permits for the next round of construction at a Formula One racetrack southeast of Austin. County officials met this morning with circuit officials and developers for a progress update and to discuss traffic and emergency management plans.

“Our meeting today with the county was a regular update regarding construction progress at the site that concluded with the county issuing the next round of permits,” track President Steve Sexton said in a statement. “We are moving forward as scheduled.”

Anna Bowlin, the county’s director of development services, said, “It was a good meeting, we got a progress report, and things are coming along. It was nothing unexpected or earth-shattering just keeping the coordination of information current.”

Officials hope to have work completed at Circuit of the Americas by next summer. A provisional race date of June 17, 2012, has been set, though it could change.

The county is in the process today of issuing permits for developers to pour foundations for four of the site’s most complex buildings — the main grandstands, pit buildings, and media and medical centers — and to construct five retaining walls, Bowlin said.

The fire marshal has to approve developers’ plans for the structures on those foundations before that work can begin.

The county is issuing the permits in phases based on what developers say is critical and that includes several conditions the county has set on road improvements and traffic and emergency management.

Developers previously had only been able to grade the land, make some utility improvements and construct two tunnels to run under the track.

The circuit is outside Austin city limits but near enough to be subject to some City of Austin development rules. Austin officials approved most permits needed to build on the site June 28, a city official said.
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