MotoGP is Coming to Texas - Racing

Austin-based Circuit of the Americas signs 10-year contract with MotoGP-rights-holder Dorna.

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MotoGP is coming to the Lone Star State in 2013, specifically to the work-in-progress Circuit of the Americas, located just a few miles from the state capital of Austin.Earlier this week, Circuit of the Americas (CotA) management held a press conference hosted by SPEED reporter Bob Varsha, who described the planned $300-plus-million facility as an “iconic sporting structure.” Both MotoGP and Formula One have inked 10-year contracts with the track. MotoGP intends to bring all three classes—MotoGP, Moto2 and yet-untested Moto3, the 2012 replacement for 125cc Grand Prix. F-1 will make its inaugural stop at CotA next year.Currently, the U.S. hosts two rounds of the MotoGP World Championship: the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca held in July and August’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Laguna has a three-year contract that runs through 2014; Indy’s current contract ends this year.

Designed by Tilke GmbH of Aachen, Germany, the 20-turn Texas track is set on 350 acres and will be 3.4 miles in length with elevation changes of 133 feet. Dallas-based architect HKS, Inc. has penned a sophisticated media center, executive suites, an entertainment venue called the Grand Plaza with a 22-story tower, a conference center, a 300-yard-long, three-story pit building with a banquet hall and commercial kitchen, plus a 5500-square-foot trauma center. Future phases will stretch another 620 acres. The track is located just 2 miles from Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

CotA principals Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, Robert Epstein and Tavo Hellmund were joined on stage by 1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz, factory Yamaha MotoGP rider Ben Spies and members of local and state government.

Circuit of the Americas Racetrack

Construction of the 20-turn, 3.4-mile Circuit of the Americas began earlier this year. The track will run counterclockwise.

"It's a big deal," beamed McCombs, "and we're really excited."

Epstein, a partner with investment firm Prophet Capital Management Ltd., and billionaire McCombs are financing the build. Named one of the 400 richest Americans by Forbes, the 83-year-old McCombs is the founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group, a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications and a past owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Vikings.

Hellmund, a former race-car driver and managing partner of Full Throttle Productions, said the circuit’s general contractor, Austin Commercial, is working six days a week on the project and that, to date, all construction milestones have been met.

Schwantz introduced Spies to the audience, and the two Texans then had a brief question-and-answer session. Spies, who hails from Longview, remarked that for the first time in his career, he will be able to drive, rather than fly, to a MotoGP race.

“I’ll be asking for a lot of tickets,” he laughed.

“Tavo and I have done our best with the guys from Tilke to try to make this as challenging as we can,” said Schwantz, who intends to move his riding academy, the Schwantz School, to CotA from its current base at Barber Motorsports Park.

“During my career, I poured everything I had—my heart and soul—into Grand Prix racing,” said Schwantz. “Everybody could see that when I got on the bike. That’s exactly what we’re going to do for both the riders and spectators with this facility. Expect nothing less.”

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