Formula 1 Deal Done with Austin?

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone

British Site Reports F1 CEO Ecclestone Says ‘We Have Contract With Austin’

Obscure Website’s Authenticity Cannot Be Immediately Verified

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone

“The reality is we have a contract with Austin and it is there where the US Grand Prix will be staged,” Bernie Ecclestone, president and chief executive officer of the F1 Group, said in an April 9 report published by The Royal Tribune, a “world news” website apparently based in London.

“Austin has signed an initial 10-year deal to host the race and the man behind the project, Tavo Hellmund, believes that such is the potential of the new venue it could become a mainstay on the calendar,” the article states.

That statement was debunked by local lawyer-lobbyist Richard T. Suttle Jr. of Armbrust & Brown PLLC, who represents Hellmund, managing partner of Austin-based Full Throttle Productions LP, the Austin company that was awarded permission to host an Austin event beginning in 2012.

“He (Ecclestone) does not have a contact with the City of Austin,” Suttle said. “He has a 10-year contract with Full Throttle to bring the race to Austin for 10 years. All this means is he’s speaking generally.”

Messages left with the mayor’s office were not returned.

The push to bring the F1 project to Austin has been heavily supported by Governor Rick Perry and Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. The state has agreed to provide a subsidy of $25 million a year for 10 years from a Major Events Trust Fund.

Last November 18, the Austin City Council voted 7-0 to authorize the negotiation and execution of a developer agreement with Land Accelerator LLC to reimburse costs not to exceed $5,373,734 to construct oversized 24-inch and 36-inch water transmission mains to provide water service to the Formula 1 United States Austin. In a separate motion that day the council vote 7-0 to strike a similar agreement for reimbursement not to exceed $8,126,619 for construction of an oversized 30-inch wastewater main to serve the project.

The Royal Tribune article headlined “Ecclestone Open F1 US Grand Prix” is dated April 9, 2011, but the majority of the content on The Royal Tribune website is far outdated.

Research The Austin Bulldog conducted using Google and Yahoo search engines found no evidence of The Royal Tribune, and the website itself provides no background about who owns or operates it.

This report was made possible by contributions to The Austin Bulldog, which operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. You can help to sustain The Austin Bulldog’s reporting by making a tax-deductible contribution.

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