Texas calls Formula One decision 'foolish move'

Texas Motor Speedway

Texas Motor Speedway's Sprint Cup race on Nov. 2, 2014, will be the same day Formula One runs at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Getty Images)


LAS VEGAS - Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, lashed out at Formula One officials Wednesday after they announced that the U.S. Grand Prix would be held three hours away in Austin, Texas, on the same day that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas.

Both races will be Nov. 2, 2014.

“It’s a foolish move by Formula One,’’ Gossage said in a statement. “Our two NASCAR Sprint Cup races draw the two largest crowds in Texas sports. It isn’t the smartest move to try to compete with that. I’m sure regardless of what they say publicly, the folks at the Austin track are pulling their hair out over this one. They don’t have any say over their date.’’

Geoff Moore, chief marketing and revenue officer for Circuit of The Americas, confirmed that the track doesn’t pick the race dates. He noted how this year’s race was on the same weekend as a University of Texas football game in Austin.

Bobby Epstein, chairman of Circuit of The Americas, didn't express much concern about the two series racing so close together on the same date.

“Due to the large number of NASCAR events scheduled annually, there will occasionally be overlaps with events at Circuit of The Americas, and that will happen next year,'' Epstein said in a statement from te track. “However there are few similarities between a NASCAR race and the Formula One weekend we have developed.

“The F1 USGP is a massive, fun and entertaining experience that has performed well against all kinds of competition. Many members of the public were concerned that our first F1 race fell on the same date as the season-ending NASCAR race in Florida, and it proved to be a non-issue. Ultimately, we see this as a great opportunity to draw sports fans from around the world to Texas and to proving again that Austin is the place to enjoy premium racing and entertainment.”

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, said he didn’t have any concern with the schedule for both tracks.

“We’re very happy with Texas Motor Speedway and our schedule,’’ he told Motor Racing Network. “We can’t control what F1 does with their date. We’re confident in Eddie Gossage and his staff at the speedway. We’re confident in the product we put on at that racetrack and looking forward to racing there again in 2014.’’

Moore said during the NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum at the Aria Resort & Casino that the Formula One race at Circuit of The Americas drew 250,000 for the weekend this season. 

NASCAR no longer provides crowd estimates for its races. It last did in 2012. The November race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway drew an estimated crowd of 269,500 for the Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck races in 2012.

As for a Cup, Nationwide or Truck race at the Circuit of The Americas road course in the future? That doesn’t seem likely.

O’Donnell said NASCAR had “some discussions’’ with the track about a Nationwide or Truck race there but didn’t feel it was best for the sport.

“Candidly, we’re very happy with Texas Motor Speedway,’’ O’Donnell said. “When you look at where you’re going to run certain series, it’s got to make sense from the fans’ perspective. It’s got to make sense from the garage area. Is this a new market place where they believe they can sell sponsorship? Is it going to really create that brand lift for the series? For us, we’re already in Texas.

“We’ve chosen to look at Canada, we’ve chosen to look at Mid-Ohio, Mexico, places that we’re seeing huge success, Eldora. (Circuit of The Americas) is a great facility, but we want to go to places that potentially will drive some markets.’’               

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