COTA May Not Survive COVID-19 (Updated)

 TGR Staff

Circuit of The Americas (COTA) has begun laying off staff due to the majority of the 2020 calendar being cleared by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. In a statement released on Sunday, March 15th COTA management announced that the track has been closed indefinitely. A laid-off COTA employee reached out under the condition of anonymity confirming that lay-offs happened on Friday the 13th, affecting most employees. In a statement to the Austin Statesman COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein said that "half" of staff had been laid-off, but he didn't elaborate on what the future of the venue may be.

This announcement comes on the heels of MotoGP rescheduling, IndyCar canceling outright, and uncertainty around if there will be a Formula 1 US Grand Prix. With the City of Austin and Travis County banning all gatherings of 250 people or more through at least May 1st, smaller events like concerts, car shows, and cycling events were also canceled.

These early hits to the 2020 season are compounded by the loss of over $25 million state funding for the 2018 Formula 1 Race due to COTA's failure to submit a human trafficking prevention policy. The financial loss from 2019, the recent cost of resurfacing large portions of the track over the winter, and the loss of all major events for the next 60-90 days may require a major restructuring or further investment to reopen to full capacity after the danger of COVID-19 passes.

The track has struggled since opening in 2012 and has faced financial issues as well as several management changes over the last eight years. We are sure that management is working to find a way to get back to business as usual.

UPDATE: A COTA representative has reached out to members of the media stating that COTA is still open, but under "limited use" the unnamed representative told The Drive.

 "COTA is not shut down... COTA is working with a smaller workforce to keep all afloat so when we can safely be on the other side of this pandemic we can be fully functioning once again," the spokesperson wrote.

UPDATE: An email sent out by Edge Addicts (a company that hosts track days and automotive events at COTA) on March 12th to their members states that "local track rentals are not affected at this point" and they will still be hosting their events in May. 

UPDATE: COTA has now canceled all track rentals through May 31 (March 18th).