Saturday, December 22, 2012

And the 2012 Ebenezer Scrooge Award Goes to Circuit of The Americas (UPDATED)

Recent rumors that the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is cancelling all clubs' driving events have been confirmed in this Jalopnik article. Based on feedback from two driving clubs, COTA has canceled all rentals, club races, driver's education events and other track days for 2013. This in spite of the fact that the clubs had contracts in place and had already prepaid the full track rental fees for 2013.

It looks very likely based on this news that COTA is moving toward a private club type of organization similar to Monticello and Lime Rock Park. Only the F1 race, a new Grand Am race, as well as a few other high profile professional series' races have been confirmed for 2013. This move is a total blow to all driving enthusiasts who were very supportive of getting the track off the ground and COTA should be ashamed of it. This speaks to how little they value the help from all driving enthusiasts who stood up for this idea. They are apparently looking for COTA to be an exclusive track and not something that supports grassroots efforts.

The 2012 Ebenezer Scrooge award, therefore, goes to Circuit of The Americas!

December 21, 2012 UPDATE:

Circuit of The Americas provided updated information on pending track rentals:

Circuit of The Americas™ today announced that it would honor track rentals with four organizations that had booked track days and paid rental fees in advance. “We are moving ahead with these agreements and contacting clients so they can share this information with their members and customers,” Circuit spokesperson Julie Loignon said. “The executed rental agreements will limit the number of vehicles we have on track at any given time to ensure a fun and safe experience for participants, including any amateur drivers who will be participating. We regret the confusion that was caused as we worked through these issues with our clients and look forward to providing a one-of-a-kind experience to auto enthusiasts coming to Circuit of The Americas through our track rental program.”

Our take: This announcement does not say WHICH four organizations. More importantly, it does not mention any consideration for future rentals. It only addresses those which have been fully contracted and fully paid in advance in order to avoid lawsuits for breach of contract. NOTHING in this announcement gives us any comfort that COTA will be open to clubs once they fulfill their current contractual obligations.