Formula One organizers get $29.3 million from taxpayers


No one is quite sure how officials arrived at the dollar amount, but state Comptroller Susan Combs cut a $29.3 million check to the group that staged the first Formula One race in November outside of Austin.

The public has been waiting for more than two years to learn exactly how the payment would be calculated and a raft of other details involving its stake in subsidizing an event described in the local media as something close to The Rapture, were it fast, loud and smelly.

No one involved in staging the race has been too sure of how much anything cost taxpayers, not that it seems to have mattered much. The Austin American-Statesman, which did its full share of cheerleading for the event, has carried on a rather lonesome effort in court to try to get to the bottom of some of it.

It is the Statesman Tuesday saying the comptroller authorized a payment based on an estimate of the tax revenue the event is supposed to have generated. The estimate was developed by the comptroller’s staff with the assistance of the Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee, a group affiliated with Circuit of the Americas.

The organizing committee this summer had estimated the three-day race extravaganza would generate $26.4 million. Still, the group thought nothing of asking for $30.6 million from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund.

Trust fund guidelines give the comptroller’s office up to 18 months to arrive at the true tax revenue figure. That would be approximately six months after the 2013 Austin race, the exact dates of which have not been finalized.

Contact Mark Lisheron at or 512-299-2318.

Photo of racecar by flickr user Phil Ostroff, used via a Creative Commons license.