The man largely responsible for bringing Formula One to Texas said Thursday there won’t be a Grand Prix race near Austin in November 2012 if F1 hasn’t been paid first.
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is waiting for a $25 million sanctioning fee, and Reuters reports that he’s given the Texas parties a week to come to terms. The World Motor Sports Council has until December 7 to approve its 2012 racing schedule.
“We don’t have a contract with Formula One, and the reason we don’t have a contract with Formula One is that as a project we have failed many times over to fulfill our financial obligations to Formula One,” said race promoter Tavo Hellmund. “It’s literally that simple.”
Earlier this week, Comptroller Susan Combs said the state won’t write its first $25 million check — out of an economic development fund — until a race has been held. And the owners of the track being built in southeastern Travis County stopped construction, saying they’ll start when there’s a contract for a race. Hellmund held a press conference Thursday to share his side of the story. (The track is off Texas 130, which feeds via SH 45 into Interstate 35 just north of Buda. Hays County hoped to received some residual economic benefit form the races)
Hellmund, head of Full Throttle Productions, said that Ecclestone recently laid out three options: pay now and continue with the current contract, tear the old contract up and issue a new one or cancel the whole project.
Hellmund did not have an answer to why Ecclestone had not received any payments and said that the money part of this project had never been his role.
“If I’d had the money I wouldn’t have been willing 18 months ago to give up the majority of my project,” Hellmund said.
The financial dispute between Hellmund and his partners at Circuit of the Americas had lead to attempted buyouts on both sides.
Hellmund said that he had attempted to buy his partners out a couple of months ago, but they declined his offers.
Since then, he said, his partners have offered to buy him out. The negotiations on this buyout are ongoing, Hellmund’s attorney Casey Dobson said.
Hellmund said that he was optimistic that the track would be completed and the scheduled Grand Prix race would be held next year and that there was more than a 50 percent chance of the race occurring on its scheduled date.