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COTA cancels all 2013 track rentals


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#1 AustinF1

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 15:46

Wow.

http://jalopnik.com/...dium=socialflow

Austin’s Circuit Of The Americas Cancels Track Days, Screws Over Racing Fans Everywhere
Patrick George
If you were fortunate enough to go to the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix at Austin's Circuit of the Americas last month, you may have started counting the days until you got a chance to drive on it too. After all, the track opened to rave reviews from both fans and Formula One drivers.

That's not going to happen now. Apparently, officials at the circuit have canceled all rentals, club races, driver's education events and other track days for 2013.

Jalopnik was forwarded this email from Rick Schwalenberg, owner of The Driver's Edge, an HPDE school based out of Texas:

Dear Drivers Edge Drivers,

I just recieved a phone call from CoTA's Manager of Track Operations, it wasn't the one I wanted to get.

In short CoTA's executives have decided to cancel all "YES ALL" track rentals. They have decided NOT to rent the track, they plan to go in a diffrent direction.

The worst part is, our tipster says Schwalenberg paid in full and signed a contract for the event, which is supposed to happen in less than 20 days. On their Facebook page, The Driver's Edge said "We really don't know exactly what was behind the decision, but we were told they are canceling all rentals other than major races."

Similarly, MVP Track Time of Missouri had a track day set for Feb. 1-3. Participants received this notice last night:

Good Evening:

As many of you have heard or read, Circuit of The Americas has informed MVP Track Time, and other organizations, the track event we contracted for February 1-3, 2013 is not being honored.* This was a complete shock as we've already paid the entire rental fee (and yes the check was cashed by COTA) for February 1-3, 2013.*

I do not want add fuel to the fire until we have all the facts and have taken every possible action to secure the COTA date we have already paid (in full) for.* As soon as we have all the facts, I will send an e-mail to all attendees.

Thank you for your patience while we quickly work through this.

Circuit of the Americas' Facebook page is already brimming with angry comments from enthusiasts who feel like they've been screwed over.

Earlier this morning I sent an email to the circuit's media people, asking to confirm if this is true and if so, why it's happening. I have not heard back yet but I'll update this post if I do.

Hat tip to David!



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#2 onewingedangel

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 16:48

When they saw the interest in track days they probably decided they wanted a bigger piece of the pie and decided to do it in house rather than rent the track to third parties to run events. I'd presume such an arrangement would make things like insurance far simpler as well.

#3 kosmic33

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 16:49

When they saw the interest in track days they probably decided they wanted a bigger piece of the pie and decided to do it in house rather than rent the track to third parties to run events. I'd presume such an arrangement would make things like insurance far simpler as well.

My thoughts exactly!

Also: Does a thread about track days really belong in the Racing Comments forum?

Edited by kosmic33, 22 December 2012 - 16:50.


#4 AustinF1

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 17:13

My apologies, wrong forum.

Thanks!

#5 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 17:23

It might belong here actually, the first thing I thought of was how it affects the F1 race long term because I thought there may be issues with the track/management behind the scenes.

#6 AustinF1

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 19:02

Well, here's their response. It appears to be at odds with multiple parties' accounts of the matter:

https://twitter.com/...4430592/photo/1

#7 AustinF1

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 00:31

Here's COTA's latest statement (massive backpedal) regarding their most recent PR disaster. Looks like in the face of the massive public outcry and threats of litigation over travel arrangements that cannot be refunded, etc, they decided to honor only the 4 paid events:

http://www.circuitof...m/media-center/

Circuit of The Americas’ provides 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.”


As for COTA's event costs, several race and track day organizers have chimed in saying that the clubs almost always bear these costs (insurance, staffing, etc).

Regardless of the partial reversal, this incident is being viewed by most involved as a red flag for dealing with COTA. Buyer beware.

Edited by AustinF1, 23 December 2012 - 09:51.


#8 itsademo

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 06:54

Here's COTA's latest statement (massive backpedal) regarding their most recent PR disaster. The 4 paid events are apparently back on:

Here's http://www.circuitof...m/media-center/

well they really had only two options capitulation over the days already signed sealed and paid for, or pay everyone who had booked with those organisations (and the orgs) expenses plus compensation.
The other option would have been court with possibly far larger payouts a possibility.
I wonder if anyone's head is going to roll for this great bit of PR