Austin, Texas Circuit Lands 10-Year Deal To Host MotoGP Series

The MotoGP series is about to undergo a transformation in 2012, with the premier class returning to 1000cc engine capacity and the 125cc bikes being replaced by the 250cc four-stroke Moto3 formula. But the bikes are not the only thing due to change: the calendar itself is likely to undergo a radical transformation, with several new tracks being added while others disappear.

One of the tracks being touted as a new venue for MotoGP was the circuit currently under construction just outside of Austin, Texas. Over the past year or so, rumors that MotoGP would be heading there have been swelling to such an extent that the question appeared not to be whether the series would go there, but merely when. Would the track be ready to host a race in 2012, or would Texan race fans - of which there are many - have to wait until 2013?

There's good news and bad news on that front: Dorna and Full Throttle Productions - owners of the Circuit Of The Americas facility near Austin - have officially announced that they have signed a contract that will see all three of the MotoGP classes racing at the track. The bad news is that fans will have to wait until 2013 to see the MotoGP series visit the track, but that misfortune is generously recompensed by the fact that the circuit has signed a ten-year deal with Dorna to host the series. The contract with Dorna means that the Circuit of the Americas have snared the major series from both the two-wheeled and four-wheeled worlds, with Formula One also landing a deal to race at the track.

The deal came about due in no small part to the role played by former 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz. The Texan has been working with the circuit owners for some time to ensure that MotoGP visits the track, and the combination of his pressure and the expected quality of the facilities smoothed the path for the event to happen. The fact that two of the three Americans currently racing in the series are also from Texas - factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha veteran Colin Edwards - also made the deal a more attractive proposition.

The addition of Austin to the MotoGP calendar is not the only change expected. The Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi is expected to be part of an Arabian double-header opening the 2012 season, according to German-language publication Speedweek, while the track in New Delhi could also join the calendar in 2013. The Estoril round is likely to disappear, reducing the number of races on the Iberian peninsula from five to four, though all four of those will be in Spain.

It is unknown what will happen to the Indianapolis round of MotoGP, however. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a one-year contract to host MotoGP this year, and talks are believed to be underway for an extension of the deal. The location of the Indy circuit is strategically vital for Dorna, as it is the best facility within reach of the US East Coast and its major population centers. If IMS can be persuaded to extend the contract - and make a few modifications to the surface of the road course - then Dorna would have three races covering the three strategic markets in the US: Indy serving the East and Midwest (New York, Washington, Chicago), Austin serving the South (Houston, Dallas, New Orleans) and Laguna Seca serving the West Coast (the Bay Area, Southern California, Oregon). That would be vital to cracking the US market, a target Dorna has had its eye on for a very long time.

The official press release announcing the deal is shown below:

Texas lands MotoGP from 2013

Ten-year deal signed for new Circuit of the Americas™ in Austin includes the three classes of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP)

Dorna Sports, S.L., 3FourTexasMGP, LLC and Full Throttle Productions, LP are pleased to announce the historic signing of a 10 year contract bringing MotoGP to the new Circuit of the Americas™ facility in Austin, Texas, from 2013.

This agreement includes the three categories of the World Championship; the MotoGP class -the pinnacle of motorcycling-, Moto2 and Moto3.

The addition of a 10 year MotoGP deal is coupled with the already scheduled ten year deal to host the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™, for which the Circuit of the Americas™ in Austin, Texas is currently under construction.

Mr. Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, S.L. said "We are delighted to be adding the Circuit of the Americas™ to the MotoGP calendar. It's an honour to expand our Championship to Texas, which has a rich history of producing World Championship riders. We have had a wonderful and special relationship with Kevin (Schwantz) for twenty years and often talked about a mutual dream of increasing the popularity of MotoGP in the U.S. and raising our already successful worldwide profile. Now, with what Tavo Hellmund (Managing Partner of Full Throttle Productions) is doing in Austin, we have realised that situation and are looking forward to this new venture together. The 10 year agreement is a sign of our confidence and commitment to the future success of MotoGP racing in Austin."

"For me this is a dream come true, that the FIM MotoGP World Championship will be in my home state of Texas. I am such a believer in the sport and know how popular motorcycling is in Texas. I am sure that this will be a resounding long term success," stated Mr. Kevin Schwantz, Manager of 3FourTexas MGP, and LLC and the 1993 FIM MotoGP World Champion.

Mr. Hellmund, who has worked hard to bring MotoGP to Texas, stated: "We are extremely pleased to add the best motorcycle World Championship to our annual schedule. This is a fantastic opportunity for the State of Texas and this region and I believe it is the first time in American Motorsports history that both the cars and the motorbikes world championships are held at the same facility annually. We are very proud of becoming the United States international facility for motorsports".

"Kevin and I have been close friends for a long time and I enjoy a great relationship with Carmelo. I respect so much what they (Dorna) and the FIM have done for MotoGP globally. It's going to be great for the State, the product is fantastic and you never know, we may even have a reigning Texan in Ben Spies as World Champion for our first event…that would be icing on the cake" concluded Mr. Hellmund.

Construction of the new facility is progressing well and is scheduled for completion sometime in mid 2012, in time for the first Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™.

About Austin

For a sporting event on the scale of a Grand Prix, Austin provides an ideal site being perfectly located for North, South and Central American visitors and also being well served by international flights. The close proximity of the downtown area, airport, circuit and hotels offers a fantastic and highly convenient setting.Upon its completion the new Circuit of the Americas™ will be the only "Grade 1" listed facility in the US, and the event will be coordinated by one of the most experienced promoters in the industry which holds a 40-year history within various prominent international racing series.

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I hate to say it but 3 GP's in the US wont make it. And being from the midwest I hope Indy does'nt lose it. I was in High school in 1995 when the the ad ran in cycle world that the 1995 USGP was comming to Road America. Well we ended up waiting til 2008 til I saw my first GP bike.

Did they not have 100K+ fans at Indy on race day this yr? I think you get a lot out of the midwest and Canada comming to Indy. Austin is basically Northern Mexico and Californina is too far to the west. GPone has a good article questioning why there needs to be 3 US races. It is a shame but American fans just are not as hardcore as Euro fans. We have Nascar, NFL, NBA, and MLB shoved down our throats. When I wear a colored "Doctor" shirt out and about people think I am a gay doctor, a "69" Hayden shirt, well I'm sure you can guess what profession they think I support. 21 hr drive to Austin from my house. How many GPs in Europe could I see that are 21 hrs away?!

Altho' I'm not sure what you mean by "make it". It just seems like one too many to me as well.

Laguna Seca? Such a traditional venue, and in a nice setting. Hard to see it being dropped.

Indy? The capital of American (four wheel) racing for a long time. No race at Indy? Not unthinkable, given the known problems -- the track surface, attendance.

Austin? Unknown. No one has used the track -- ridden on it etc. Might be, as rumored, a world class facility with a track the riders would love. You'd hope the fans would come, Texans or no Texans in the race.

Probably Laguna Seca and Austin would be a good choice.

At first I thought this was an April fools joke. This is great news.

This is huge news!!! Maybe it'll spark a little more interest over here. Is there anywhere on the net we can see the track layout or the layout of the abu dabi track. This is big news!

Is it just me or is it very strange a contract for 10 years is signed with a ractrack no one has ever ridden> What if it's another boring Tilke car-track (he designed it)? What if almost no paying visitors show up like in Indy? What if everybody hates it? Let's just hope it will be a great venue, but to me it smells like money talked here...

Some of us Americans love our Motorbike Racing just as you Europeans do. Why don't you want Motogp interest to be here. Bring it to Canada too and next up South America/Brazil.
FYI...BTW Indy can hold 300,000 spectators, so it does seem like it's empty even when it has approx 90k people in it.

Austin web address:

Indy Motogp 2008 Attendance
Friday: 30,978
Saturday: 52,010
Sunday: 91,064
Total : 174,000

Indy Motogp 2009 Attendance
Friday: 26,350
Saturday: 45,200
Sunday: 75,130
Total : 146,680

Indy Motogp 2010 Attendance
Friday: 25,260
Saturday: 48,130
Sunday: 62,794
Total: 136,184

Is they do decide to drop a track, I hope it's Indy (nothing personal).

Having been there once and more recently Misano last year and Jerez the other week, Indy to me is completely devoid of any personality. It's probably fine for NASCAR if you follow that sort of stuff but I don't think it's a particularly interesting bike track.

It makes me wonder what the riders think of the different tracks.

I am laughing for ONE reason.

OK, it's more than one reason, but the main reason is because of the CATACLYSMIC ignorance that permeates so many parts of the (ostensibly) educated world concerning Texas. I say this mostly regarding the slagging and mud slinging that took place on when the F1 race was announced. Texas? Don't they ride horses? Don't they all carry guns and wear belts festooned with bullets? Those cowboys don't have a CLUE what F1 (or MotoGP) is! Right?


I know that the people who says those blinkered, philistine, ignorant things don't really mean them. It's a case of ignorance instead of stupidity. People in Europe (or almost anywhere) can't fathom what Texas is like...until they go. The same goes for people in Texas concerning Europe and other places. It's just simple ignorance, which isn't really anyone's fault. When it becomes someone's fault is when they aren't willing to learn, and that's where stupidity enters.

There's a TON of F1 fans in the USA, and in Texas. Texas is centrally located, not only for the USA, but yes, also for Central America and South America. Time zone-wise, it is also a good balance between the East and Left coasts in the USA. Texas also happens to be the 11th biggest economy on Earth.

Austin has a TON of "only"s to its name, and I know so much about it NOT from reading articles about it, but from the fact that I've lived in the Austin metroplex for years. For a sampling, it's the only place that will have a dedicated F1/MotoGP road course located five minutes from an international airport and 15 minutes from a major metropolis. It's the only city with 3 of the 10 biggest US cities within 180 miles. Austin has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the USA. Austin is home to world headquarters or major hubs of Dell Computers, IBM, 3M, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, AMD, Cisco Systems, eBay/PayPal, Intel, Samsung Group, Silicon Laboratories, and Sun Microsystems. Most importantly, Austin is a BEAUTIFUL city in a BEAUTIFUL region of Texas (Hill Country), and it's also the "Live Music Capital of the World", in more than just title. It really is. Stevie Ray Vaughan was only one of the luminaries of the music world to come out of Austin... Any night on 6th Street (THE epicenter of the music scene in Austin) is a night to remember, provided you DO remember it the next morning... :)

Perhaps the best part about the Austin race, (for me and my buddies, anyway) is the fact that I have a house on a hilltop in New Braunfels, which is about 30 minutes from the Circuit of the Americas. This house overlooks all of New Braunfels and the Comal River, has about 100 feet of river front on the windowpane-clear waters of the Comal, has truly peerless Largemouth Bass fishing, and is two miles from one of THE premier dealerships of Italian two-wheeled exotica in the USA (owned by two LONG-time friends).

It is there where I will be staying for the 2013 MotoGP race...along with at least one (and maybe more) of my friends here in the MM community.

There's also the fact that, along with all the aforementioned amenities, we have literally thousands of miles of twisty, challenging, fantastic roads...roads packed with elevation changes and jaw-dropping scenery...available for us to explore via primo machinery and cheap(ish) petrol.

Am I excited about the Austin race? Ummm...I'll have to put in my vote for "YES!" I HATED the fact that it was a Tilke track, but having seen the plans and design, I can say that I definitely DO like it now. It has a lot in common with Spa, amongst others...and that is a GOOD thing.

p.s. For any of you planning on attending, I would like nothing more than to be of whatever assistance I can be. We can disagree all we want about racing issues, but hospitality and helping others is something that Texans put above almost ALL other things. Whether you "hate me" here on MM or not makes no difference to the fact that I'll go out of my way to help you should you decide to pay a visit to this humble little piece of real estate called "Texas"...

Well CT, you've just blown the best kept secret of the south.

Austin is a fantastic area and the people are friendly as well. I live about an hour from Indy and I love the facility and track (which I have ridden) but I am going to try my best to add the new Austin race to my calendar.

Go Spies!

Yes, it truly is a magnificent area. The people who come, especially the ones from outside the USA, will be...changed. Forever. It will simply blow people's minds.

Unfortunately, many won't, and they'll succumb to misconceptions and stereotypical ethnocentrism, which will rob them of a hugely enjoyable experience. We shall see.

Countries are so much more than what is in the news, or what the tourists think of. Some people go to Amsterdam, visit the Red Light District, drop by The Bulldog and have a smoke, and then get back on the plane for home, claiming that they've seen The Netherlands. Uh, NO. WRONG. Having lived in Amsterdam, I can personally attest to just how wrong that misconception is.

In the same way, Texas isn't as easily pigeonholed and/or experienced. The race simply could NOT be in a better location--here in Texas, or in the USA--and I think that many who turn their noses up at it, be it from other countries, or from the East or Left coasts of the USA, will be missing out on a GREAT experience. Texas truly is exactly like...NOTHING and NOWHERE else.

Let me know sometime between now and then when and where you'll be coming, and I'll make good on my promise to help out. Count on it! :)

Rolllllll TIDE!

the crown jewel of Texas's motorsport heritage..........

It was the " birthplace " of Chaparral Cars. Midland is the US's Maranello.

Midland may not be on the usual tourist trail but a visit to the Chaparral Gallery in the Midland Petroleum Museum would open a few European eyes.................

We'll see how it affects attendance to the other two races (particularly Laguna), but I think the US can easily support a third race. SOMETHING is necessary on the East Coast and Midwest, and it's Indy for now. I have mixed feelings about the track, but I'll take it. California and the people that want to come see it (California) easily populate Laguna. And judging from the number of national motorcycle racers and stunt riders from Texas, Oklahoma and the surrounding area, the motorcycle racing enthusiast there is hugely underserved. Not to mention Dorna probably hopes to tap in to the Mexico market while avoiding the risks of actually going there.

I've met Mexicans at the F1 race at Indy. I've met Texans at Laguna. Will those fans now be gone from traveling to these tracks? For the most part, yes. But how many other fans couldn't make the journey across the country for a race, but will now go to one in their area?

As far as it being another Tilke circuit, the renderings so far look very promising I think. Add to that the fact that it's in Austin, a city I've planned to visit for years but just haven't made it to yet, and I'm very excited.

I think it definitely is odd to award a 10-year contract to a complete unknown. I'd say it was some combination of the track appearing to be an A++ facility and a LOT of money being on offer.

On a side note, with the Abu Dhabi race, talk about an OVERrepresented area! But the track is fairly beautiful from a facilities and surroundings standpoint and they've obviously got loot spilling out of their pockets to support the cause, so one more race it is!

VIR should be hosting the Eastern MGP race. Run the Grand West Course configuration and you have a 4.10 mile track. Its awesome. Im sure it has something to do with safety, but wow is VIR a great track. The front straight has a kink in it that AMA superbikes are taking at WOT 160MPH full lean. The east coast version of the Laguna corkscrew called the roller coaster. I mean look at these things and tell me it wouldnt be a great and technical track for GP racing.

You can't get to VIR easily from anywhere other then the berg up the road. Pretty short on hotel rooms too.

Regarding Austin, I think Euro's will show up. They've been waiting for a reason to see Texas, and now they have it. I live in Boston. Half the foot traffic on our sidewalks are foreign tourists. Why do they come here? It's not NYC. We don't have have a Times Square or Broadway. There is nothing here but a cluster of colonial structures, a few historical sites from the 'rebellion', and our Universities. I think they come because it's easy and they like American history. Austin certainly has that. It's the wild west!

The Monterey Peninsula is a struggle to get to for Euro's. It's a long flight, and then you have to rent a car and drive 2 hours. Getting back to SFO Sunday night is like an LA commute. The only way Euro's make it is if it is part of a much larger vacation.

Austin is a smart addition. Let's just hope the facility matches the hype.