If you were to put your finger on the Tilke track that you like most, I suspect you would find that the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) would be one very fondled choice. There are a host of reasons but I’ll give you one…the esses.
Building a $300 million circuit is no easy task and funding it is even harder. I was keen to see how the operation would work last November for the inaugural grand prix and to my surprise, the team had hired out many of the professional services to ensure a smooth operation. I thought at the time, “I wonder if they can afford to continue to hire out some of the essential services to a group from Australia”? My media passes and many members of the FIA accredited army found the process to be very smooth thanks to the Aussies.
One of the crucial elements to Formula 1’s success in the US market will be this circuit, the history it can build and if it can become symbiotic with F1’s legends, names and races. The services they can provide will set the fan and press experience apart from other locations and is equally vital as well as Austin’s ability to accommodate the biomass that ascends on the “Weird” city in Texas.
To those ends, it’s imperative that the track economics work. The good news is that the Circuit of the Americas may have a new investment partner in the form of current Formula One investor, Waddell & Reed.
Now I must say that I could be a little biased here but having been born and raised in Kansas City Missouri, Waddell & Reed have always been a company I admired. They are located in Overland Park Kansas, just across the state line, and have been a great corporate neighbor for the city and state.
Waddell & Reed hold a 20.9% stake in F1’s parent company Delta Topco. According to our friend Christian Sylt, Waddell & Reed have invested in the Circuit of the Americas by providing $11.8m of the debt which is due for repayment between 2017 and 2018. That brings their total investment in F1 and F1 related features to 7.6% of its net assets.
Now, let us hope that Waddell & Reed take their investment seriously and that they seek to help the series succeed in the US. There are a host of things they can do but clearly they’re getting little help from NBC Sports who hold the broadcast rights to F1 in America. the investment group should work with COTA to not only make the track economics work but to teach their way to success in the US regarding Formula 1.
Let’s build on F1’s legacy, remind fans of America’s history in F1 and make the US market fall in love with F1 again. Keeping COTA strong will be essential and certainly since the likelihood of a New Jersey Grand Prix seems to be still-born.