Negotiations fall through in potential COTA deal

Negotiations fall through in potential COTA deal
Jul 20, 2015, 6:18 PM

IHRA parent company IRG Sports + Entertainment the suitor, but potential deal won't go through.

Construction of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, home of United States Grand Prix starting in 2012
Tower and fans watch the ALMS race Circuit of the Americas
(L to R): Bernie Ecclestone, with Mario Andretti, Circuit of The Americas' Official Ambassador on the grid
Circuit of the Americas paddock area
Circuit of the Americas
Artist's rendering of the Circuit of the Americas
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W05
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W05
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W05

A deal between Circuit of the Americas, the country’s only Formula 1 race track, and a potential buyer has fallen through due to an inability to come to terms, according to a source familiar with the weeks-long negotiations. understands the suitor was IRG Sports + Entertainment, a Jupiter, Florida-based company that owns multiple race tracks around the country, though if had the deal been consummated, COTA would have been by far the company’s highest-profile acquisition.

IRG Sports + Entertainment is best known as the parent company for the Ohio-based International Hot Rod Association, which is the second-largest drag racing sanctioning body behind the National Hot Rod Association.

The privately held IRG Sport + Entertainment has been quietly making smaller acquisitions and building its core business.

The company, which calls itself “a leading purveyor of sports and live entertainment experiences,” owns Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida, Memphis International Raceway, Southwestern International Raceway in Arizona, Cordova International Raceway in Illinois and Maryland International Raceway.

IRG bought the IHRA in January, 2013. The sanctioning body also controls the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series, the Sonic Rush Tour and Street Warriorz.

The IHRA sanctions about 130 facilities in the U.S. and Canada and has more than 13,000 racers as members. IRG is also an equity owner of the Super Chevy Show Series, Fun Ford Series and Mega Mopar Action Series.

Add a strip?

During the construction phase of COTA, there was talk of adding a drag strip and some point, and it seems likely that IRG would have pursed that had a deal been made.

The IHRA’s highest-profile track in Texas is in San Antonio, but that track has suffered from business problems recently. The IHRA does not have a signature annual event like the NHRA’s U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, and Austin could have been a prime site for one.

The 1,500-acre Circuit of the Americas hosted its first F1 race in November 2012 on its 3.41-mile road course. This year, the track has is also hosting MotoGP, the FIA World Endurance Championship and Tudor United SportsCar Championship and the Pirelli World Challenge.

The track is also increasing its profile as an entertainment site, hosting the ESPN X-Games and multiple concerts in its Austin360 Amphitheater, the largest permanent outdoor amphitheater in Central Texas.

There has been no response to a request made to COTA for comment last Tuesday.

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Series Formula 1
Author Steven Cole Smith
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