Yes, when Bernie Ecclestone announced that Austin, Texas would host the U.S. Grand Prix starting in 2012 on a “purpose-built” track not yet constructed — tossing aside his earlier deal with an exclusive New York driving club that has a top-notch road course 90 minutes from Manhattan — it sure seemed to be all about the money. Today that’s eminently clear. It is the Texas state government that will fund the initial $25 million for the event, all of which goes straight to Ecclestone’s company as the first-year sanctioning fee for the event license.
Contrary to earlier assertions, Texas taxpayers are putting up the first $25 million in a deal aimed at luring Formula One racing to Austin. And the money, to be deposited in the state’s Major Event Trust Fund, would pay the sanctioning fee London-based Formula One Group charges for the privilege of hosting the first of 10 annual F1 races planned for Austin beginning in 2012.
Gotta say one thing about Bernie. He’s short, but really big and ballsy in financial negotiations!