AUSTIN, TEXAS – Formula One may delay its first Austin race. But the delay has nothing to do with construction setbacks. Austin’s hot weather is the problem.
Within hours of announcing the 2012 F1 calendar, organizers announced that the US Grand Prix race in Austin scheduled for Jun 17, 2012 may be delayed until later in the season. It seems organizers and promoters are just now discovering Austin temperatures can exceed triple digits in mid June.
The average high in June in Austin is 91 degrees, but can go higher. 2011 has already seen record breaking temperatures of 100 degrees and summer isn’t even in full swing. If the race is postponed until Fall it would make the most sense to schedule it in October when the average high temperature is in the low 80′s.
“The date won’t be final until the September or December meeting. A fall date is, therefore, possible, which would possibly offer cooler weather,” said Nick Craw, president of the FIA senate.
The Austin Formula One track has been extremely controversial. Texas is in the midst of steep budget cuts, yet state lawmakers have committed $25 million a year for the next ten years in order to fund Formula One auto racing. Proponents claim it will create jobs and bring new business to Texas. Opponents argue that it is a huge waste of tax dollars at a time when Texas is struggling with a huge budget deficit and is laying off 97,000 teachers.
F1 racing has always struggled to gain a foothold in the US. It has attempted to build popularity and an audience here without success since the 1970s. The question many are asking is if it is such a sound business model, why do the Texas promoters need taxpayers to subsidize it with taxpayer dollars?
“I don’t understand why 25 people in Austin could not put up $1 million each if they thought this was a good opportunity instead of the state making a $25 million commitment. The developers should find the money through private sources,” said State Senator Dan Patrick.
The promoters didn’t only get their hands on state tax dollars. The city of Austin is on the hook for $4 million a year for 10 years as well.
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