Circuit of The Americas owner considered selling Austin track during pandemic

Sam Cooper
A view above the Circuit of The Americas.

A bird's eye view above the infield section of the Circuit of The Americas.

The owner of the Circuit of The Americas has revealed he considered selling the track during the COVID pandemic.

COTA debuted on the F1 calendar in 2012 and, aside from a COVID-enforced break in 2020, it has been present every year since.

Formula 1 is getting ready to return to the Texan track for the first race since Max Verstappen’s World Championship was secured, but the future of the circuit could have been much different if owner Bobby Epstein had made a different decision during the pandemic.

Epstein has revealed that the lack of races and financial strain of COVID almost convinced him to sell the circuit but, given F1’s rise in American popularity, he is now glad he did not.

“Everyone feels great about where we are and couldn’t be happier about the path to get here,” he told Sports Business Journal.

“Certainly, it wasn’t as smooth as we would have hoped, but the hard work of all the employees and our city being very welcoming, and the fans and teams embracing what we’ve created, made this possible, along with Netflix and ESPN drawing extra attention to the sport.

“Certainly, several years ago, with COVID, there was a time where we would have been happy to sell the track alone.”

Epstein said that was no longer the case and instead wants to entice more companies to invest on the COTA campus and continue to build out its site which currently has an amphitheater and amusement park.

Fans invade the track after the US GP. Austin October 2021.
Fans invade the track after the United States Grand Prix. Austin October 2021.

“There’s unquestionable demand right now from investors looking to capture part of the success of F1,” the managing general partner of asset management company Prophet Capital said. “We don’t need a partner as of right now for the racing business, and we’re very happy with that business.

“What we do have the opportunity for is to grow out the rest of the campus.”

Epstein suggested that one area they were looking to expand on was accommodation with the idea of a hotel being added to the site mooted.

Since its arrival onto the calendar, COTA has been joined by first the Miami Grand Prix and then the Las Vegas Grand Prix which will debut in 2023.

Three tracks in the US is a signal of the rapid rise in the sport’s popularity stateside and Epstein is expecting more record numbers for the United States Grand Prix.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been this prepared because the tickets sold out so far in advance,” he said. “It let us focus on executing the fun part and not just worrying about grandstand production and the installation of temporary structures.

“Things will be a lot smoother. We’ve had our challenges with food and beverage. Our business is not putting on the race, it’s everything else, executing on the fan experience as good as we possibly can.

“So to that extent, we’re focusing on things like a massive food and beverage operation, extra bands and entertainment, more shaded areas, improved walkaways, improved parking lot … things that make the guest experience better.”

Read more: The F1 records currently held by Max Verstappen…and ones on the horizon