Formula One coming soon to Austin, hopefully

Formula One coming soon to Austin?, photo by Larry D. Moore

The Circuit of the Americas are potentially going to be forced to reveal secret documents relating to a law suit by former project partner Tavo Hellmund.


It seems that today is a day for bad news for a whole host of circuits that were expected to join the Formula One Calendar over the next couple of seasons including the New Jersey race, French Grand Prix and Russian Grand Prix (see articles coming up). The US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin though is meant to be taking place this year and though this isn’t going to see it cancelled or developments stop this is perhaps an indication that all is not well.


The Circuit of the Americas has already been through some choppy waters and was almost cancelled in 2011 when fees weren’t paid to the Forumla One Group and contracts had to basically be started from scratch. It was when contracts were being reworked that Tavo Hellmund, who originally found the project, got pushed out: he is meant to have been bought out of the project but according to contracts should have remained as Chairman of the Grand Prix on a ten year contract with a $500,000 annual salary.


The resulting lawsuit by Mr Helmund against the Circuit of the Americas has seen a huge amount of speculation including that it may endanger the United States Grand Prix being staged in 2012 but in reality little is known and documents relating to the case have been kept under wraps.


Now though the Austin American Statesman newspaper has made a request to the district court that documents are made public claiming this is in the public interest: with a lot riding on the staging of the race for involved local contractors and for the local economy there is a good chance this will be granted; for example Austin currently has a lack of hotel rooms and many are rushing to create extra accommodation before the race but need to know that the race is going to go ahead before investing, if not in 2012 then in 2013.


The fact that the Texas state government is putting taxpayers money into parts of the project such as upgrading transport links also increases the chances documents will be opened up. While a Circuit of the Americas spokesperson claims that they are simply trying to keep business practices private many speculate that the documents may reveal financial or contractual vulnerabilities that may threaten the race.