F1 Boondoggle

Yesterday’s AAS Metro&State lead article headline was misspelled. “F1 track could reap millions” should have read “F1 track could rape millions.”

And this morning the hype continues with “Proposed track would be a giant” in a blitz to convince readers that it’s a good idea for the State of Texas to commit $25 million in annual support for this boondoggle of the rich and famous.

Who needs F1 when we have I35? You can get all the excitement you need simply trying to stay alive. Maybe it’s just me, but the issue of disclosure is just the tip of the iceberg as Titanic Texas steams into partnership with Full Throttle Productions.

The excuse that to release all the documents filed with the comptroller by Full Throttle Productions would reveal proprietary corporate and financial information is nothing more than a smokescreen. If you approach the State of Texas asking for a handout to finance your plans for anything, why shouldn’t you be required, along with the comptroller, to lay it all on the table?

Does anyone really  think it’s okay for fat cats drinking brandy and smoking cigars in back rooms to make deals like this? And if you don’t think that’s what’s happening, you aren’t paying attention.

Do yourself a favor and read today’s article. Race promoter Tavo Hellmund addressed an overflow crowd of more than 400 at the Headliner’s club in downtown Austin, supposedly as the result of  “an overwhelming response to tell you the truth.” Glorious predictions for the future flowed from his mouth during the speech, and the ordinary citizens of Texas who don’t attend such gatherings are supposed to swallow his blather as if it’s the gospel truth, so help him God.

But he doesn’t want to tell you everything. Oh, no. He has to keep some things secret. And when he jets into the sunset with his profit and the citizens of Texas are left with the aftermath, who in government will admit to having made a mistake? And who in their right mind thinks that what you see now is what you’ll get?

Color me dubious, but I’m not buying it.

On second thought, I will be, along with the rest of you, when one budget crisis after another makes the contribution of $25 million per year to a race track lose its luster.

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8 Responses to F1 Boondoggle

  1. Vance says:

    You left out the following:

    -F1 jobs will be created
    -Economic development will follow creating more jobs
    -There are more people who support it, than oppose it
    -Information is being released in a timely manner
    -Tavo lives in Austin, he’s not going anywhere

    You use the word “Rape” very loosly. Don’t think you should compare violent acts of sexual abuse to something you are strongly against. I respect your opinion and look forward to seeing a successful USGP in 2012 for all of Texas.

  2. Tosh McIntosh says:

    Vance: I sincerely respect your opinion as well, and I apologize for playing loose with wording in the headline. We’ll probably never agree, but I hope for the sake of all citizens of Texas, not only F1 fans, that this project is successful.

    I didn’t name this logbook Rants and Raves for no reason, and in this case, my somewhat emotional reaction has to do with the current economic environment in which so many people are struggling to make ends meet. In the final analysis, the expenditure of funds by government at any level is never guaranteed to produce the projected benefits, and based upon recent events, it’s hard for me to hop on the FI excitement bandwagon.

    Again, my apologies for the way in which I expressed my opposition.

    Tosh

  3. Matt says:

    Tosh, I’d have to agree with Vance here.
    It seems like your ‘beef’ isn’t with F1, but rather with government spending. In that regard, I support your view and can respect your reservations. However, Formula 1 is a BIG (worldwide) event and I think we, as a community, should embrace the attention and opportunities the sport will bring to Austin.
    Formula 1 will bring worldwide notoriety to Austin and attract companies and events to keep the track making money throughout the year. The track is expected to be utilized 270 days out of the year and will, likely, be utilized for concerts, automobile R&D, Police training, etc.
    —Matt—

  4. Tosh McIntosh says:

    Matt: Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. And not to be petty about it, but you did use the word “notoriety,” which means “being famous or well known, typically for some bad quality or deed.” Neither you not I want that to be the case.

    You are absolutely correct that I have nothing against racing of any kind or the people who support it, and that my concern is primarily the use of government funds to promote private endeavors. I fully realize the potential benefit of such collaboration, but in my opinion, no level of government has a very good track record a few years down the road when the projections are bumped against reality.

    I’m not saying there aren’t notable exceptions, but the opposite side of that argument is never acknowledged by the promoters or givernment during the early stages. I doubt that any F1 advocates have mentioned the potential for failure, and why would they? The goal is to obtain state funding. Can we not agree that no one has a crystal ball? And that bullet points on a PowerPoint presentation have no bearing on the final result?

    And bringing all of the projected advantages to Austin says nothing about the benefit to citizens of this great state who will never in their lifetimes either want, or be able, to see a race or any other event at the facility. And yet we’ll be using state funds which belong to everyone. Has anyone projected how F1 in Austin will improve the lives of the majority of us? Is it not reasonable to ask why entrepreneurs who love F1 racing can;t provide the venture capital on their own and to the specific benefit of the fans?

    Supposedly, we live in a country in which the actions of government reflect the will of the people. To say that more people support F1 than oppose it is a dubious claim at best. Do the citizens living close enough to get a job, or a better paying job like it? Of course, as well they should, and I’m happy for them. But all over this state, we have needs not being met in terms of infrastructure, education, and health care just to name a few. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the State of Texas to address core issues first.

    One of the great things about living in freedom is the ability to engage in spirited discussion on any subject we choose. I fought to protect that right, and respect you and our differences with no less conviction.

    Thanks again for visiting.

    Tosh

  5. Vance says:

    Tosh,
    Not sure if you are aware of how the F1 folks are expecting to get money from the state, but here is a link to help explain how it works:

    http://www.texastrustfunds.com/6.html

    From what I have read the money will come from increased sales tax revenue generated by the event. If nothing is generated nothing is given. The event itself is the driving force in generating the revenue. So if the event never happened the money wouldn’t be there anyway. This is more of an incentive to generate spending in Texas. The money is not given up front as far as I can tell.

    Do you ever fly over this area?

    Vance

  6. Tosh McIntosh says:

    Vance: Thanks for visiting and taking the time to engage here.

    I went to the trust fund website to check it out, but the legal jargon tumbled my gyros (pilot talk). If you’re correct in your description, then it would appear that no state funds are being used as venture capital in advance of a fully functioning racetrack facility. That’s not what I got out of the articles I’ve seen, which could be the fault of the articles, my comprehension, or both.

    Playing the role of skeptic, however, I might still question the bottom line benefit to all the residents of Texas. Sales tax revenue pays for a lot of state services, right? Let’s say that the $25M per year mentioned in the paper is what the state promises the promoters they can count on under the provisions of the Texas Trust Fund. In other words, if the racetrack generates sales tax revenue, they can get some of it. It’s a sales tax kickback, if you will, that the vast majority of business enterprises don’t get.

    Does this promise of monetary commitment from the state affect the promoters’ decision process? Absolutely. Would they still build the racetrack if the state didn’t offer monetary incentive? Maybe. And if it would be worth it to the promoters to build it anyway “because they will come,” what’s wrong with that? Why not leave state money out of it? Why not let all the sales tax revenue do what it’s designed to do, which is pay for services the state owes to its residents? I think these are valid questions that should be asked and answered.

    As for flying over Elroy, not in a while now. I used to fly a Citation III executive jet out of Bergstrom and very likely have rattled a few windows there in my time (not really!). I fly little airplanes out of San Marcos now, and usually remain clear of the Bergstrom traffic pattern with all the heavy metal there.

    Tosh

    • Vance says:

      I hear ya, don’t like the legal mumbo jumbo either, they should keep it simple. Will it be risky? Absolutely, for simple reason that no one has pulled it off before. But keep in mind, the area wouldn’t see this type of revenue if the USGP wasn’t here. I would also like to see more figures, projections and estimates to get a better understanding of the full business model. I’m sure the state will control the fund distribution as they have in the past with other large events and I would expect it to be fair and equitable for all involved.
      My dad was with the 924th at Bergstrom (F4’s, F16’s and C130’s). I’m use to the rattling windows as I’m directly in the flight path of Bergstrom. Be safe…

      Vance

  7. Tosh McIntosh says:

    Well, I think we’ll just have to respectfully disagree that the state will be fair and equitable.

    On a totally different subject, how about this? In May of 1981 I arrived in Austin for my last assignment in the military as the Air Force Adviser to the 924th. When I showed up, all the C-130 ops types had already departed for Kelly. Three of us F-4 guys sat down in a room and for at least a day, we were it. From there we built the 704th TFS from the ground up.

    Sometimes the world does indeed get a little smaller . . .

    Tosh

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