Coronavirus Causes COTA To Close, Announce Layoffs03/17/2020
Now that a policy of social distancing has swiftly become America’s reality amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, everything about our daily lives seems to have hit the brakes. Racing is no different, and several contests are among the automotive fixtures and events impacted by efforts to contain the virus. Add the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, to that group. The track announced that it would temporarily close its gates to races and let a number of its employees go.
Track officials have characterized COTA as having a “limited use” for the foreseeable future, especially after the city of Austin banned gatherings of 250 people or more and the White House revealed even stricter guidelines Monday (no more than 10 people gathered in the same place). Circuit of the Americas had already postponed a scheduled MotoGP motorcycle race from April to November, while the AutoNation IndyCar Championship was called off entirely.
COTA, which hosts dozens of races every year, has a capacity of around 120,000—that makes it one of the highest-capacity tracks on the Formula 1 calendar. But it’s uses aren’t limited to F1, and races from United SportsCar Championship, Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, and Summer X Games are all likely to be affected by the recent closure. COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein told the Austin-American Statesman that, “in the next 90 days alone, events representing nearly 600,000 ticketed visitors have been postponed, canceled, or are in jeopardy.”
Epstein didn’t how said exactly how many members of their staff will lose their jobs due to the closure, telling the Statesman it would be around “half.” A statement on COTA’s site read, “we are heartbroken for our employees (and their families) who spend all year preparing to welcome guests from Austin and all around the globe but now find themselves without work.”
We don’t have a timeline for how long things are going to take to get back to normal, but until then you can enjoy some images of the American F1 Grand Prix our friends at MotorTrend took last year:
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