Berthold Bouman, F1 correspondent
Another twist in the ongoing saga of the Austin Grand Prix, which is scheduled for November 18. Tavo Hellmund and his Full Throttle Productions company, once the promoters of the race, have filed a lawsuit against their two investment partners Bobby Epstein and Red McCombs according to reports in the Austin American Statesman.
Apparently Hellmund wants to sue his partners for an ‘improper and unlawful takeover’. Last year it emerged Hellmund did not have a contract with Formula One’s commercial rights holders FOM (Formula One Management led by Bernie Ecclestone) and capital investor CVC to organize the race, reason for Epstein and McCombs to close a deal with Ecclestone themselves to secure the Austin Grand Prix.
Hellmund claims this deal was unlawful and he sues his partners for a $18 million buyout that was not ‘fulfilled’, while Hellmund also claims he would have received $500,000 per year for the next 10 years as the chairman of the Grand Prix.
In a reaction the Circuit of the Americas stated, “This is just a latest step in a pattern of behavior. Mr. Hellmund uses negative press to try and create an advantage for himself at every turn. The fact is, he has been found to be in breach of contract by Formula 1 and he has not fulfilled his agreements.”
It is now feared this latest development could jeopardize the Austin Grand Prix, as it could deter potential future investors, and according to some sources it is even feared the State of Texas -- who subsidizes the project and pays $25 million annually for the race fees -- could also withdraw from the project.
The project has already been delayed and workers now work around the clock to get the circuit finished in time, recently people who live near the construction site have complained about the late night construction activities. Last Tuesday a construction worker was critically injured, he was airlifted to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he still remains.
Spokesman of the COTA Jeff Hahn said to the Statesman, “This is our first incident here at the site. We take safety very seriously. ... Our thoughts are with him.”