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TTavo Hellmund

Internal Conflict at COTA

Late last night media reports throughout the Formula 1 industry were packed with news of Tavo Hellmund, Founding Partner of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, taking legal action against COTA to regain his foothold there.

Tavo Hellmund reveals the newly named Circuit of The Americas F1 project with Red McCombs and Bobby Epstein on April 12, 2011.You may recall that in November 2011, Hellmund called a press conference where he established his position with COTA and voiced his frustrations with execution of the F1 contract outside of his control.  Things have been quiet since that announcement and Tavo has only been rumored to be procuring new investors, presumably for other track locations and not COTA.

Saturday's news has ignited a new controversy that's likely to create more distractions from the world class facility under construction just outside of Austin, Texas.  The details of the relationship between COTA and Hellmund have been discussed in more detail by the Austin American-Statesman, whose coverage has insight into this relationship before these troubles became public. 

Tavo states that he was due $18 million as part of a buyout agreement for his share of the project and the race contracts with Formula 1 and MotoGP.  As Tavo claimed in the press conference in November, that contract has not been executed and he is still legally the Chairman of the circuit, according to the lawsuit fillings.

Additional details are likely to emerge as the week progresses, but the project is not necessarily hindered by this announcement.  COTA reaffirms that construction is on schedule in the following statement we received today:

"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 has been found to be in breach of contract by Formula 1 and he has not fulfilled his agreements with Circuit of The Americas. Our focus remains positive. We are creating the most incredible entertainment and racing venue in the world, construction is on schedule and seat license and suite sales are very strong."

-- Circuit of The Americas Management
This is not the first lawsuit or threat thereof, but it is likely to cause the most rubber-necking because of the parties involved. When building a project of this magnitude there are bound to be disagreements and setbacks. While it may be some time before we have a clear and concise understanding of the behind the scenes work to bring our inaugural race to fruition in November, we hope for an amicable solution to keep this dream alive and on track (pun intended).

Hold on to your seat licenses - while Tavo had no further comments for Autoweek, he did say he would have more to share "soon."  And, the suit "does not seek to halt the F1 race scheduled for November."