COTA Texas Payment
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COTA receives nearly $27 million annual payment from Texas for F1

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AUSTIN, Texas — The home of Formula One in the U.S. was denied the chance to host a race at Circuit of The Americas this year, but COTA has received its big payment from Texas to cover expenses for the 2019 U.S. Grand Prix.

Texas made its annual payment to the beleaguered Circuit of the Americas in Austin, sending nearly $27 million on July 2, according to state records. That was about three weeks before F1 formally canceled the 2020 U.S. Grand Prix because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. That race was supposed to be held in late October.

The money will pay the costs of staging the 2019 race, track Chairman Bobby Epstein said Tuesday. That includes a massive rights fee estimated at about $30 million paid to F1 just to host the race.

“This is not a windfall,” Epstein said. “It’s just catching up for money already put out.”

The track has collected nearly $200 million in public revenue from the state since 2012 under Texas’ Major Events Reimbursement Program. It allows organizers of big events to cover their costs by giving them tax money that was collected around the event.

While critics have called it a corporate giveaway of taxpayer money, it has been used by big events such as the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four. The U.S. Grand Prix has been the largest recipient of state cash by far.

The racetrack missed out on a $25 million payment for the 2018 race because of a paperwork error. The track has also been hit hard financially by the pandemic, losing not just the F1 race but also this year’s canceled MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, and cancellations of numerous concerts, including the Rolling Stones.

“We have not a revenue-producing ticketed event since last fall’s Formula One,” Epstein said. “Hopefully we’ll be back in the spring with MotoGP.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.