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COTA Boss on F1/MotoGP shared weekends: Possible, not probable

U.S. Grand Prix promoter Bobby Epstein hopes his Austin circuit will be a major beneficiary of Liberty Media’s takeover of MotoGP raising the sport’s profile in the Americas.

The Texan played down, however, a suggestion MotoGP and Liberty-owned Formula One might eventually hold races on the same weekend at his Circuit of the Americas (COTA).

Austin is MotoGP’s only U.S. round but the race draws a much smaller crowd than the Formula One grand prix there.

U.S.-based Liberty announced on April 1 a takeover of MotoGP’s parent company Dorna. F1 currently has three grands prix in the United States.

“We’re excited by it, probably more than anybody,” Epstein told reporters on Thursday. “I think MotoGP has come to the U.S. and really not had a whole lot of attention paid to it. And once they leave that’s sort of the end of it, that’s all you hear for about another 51 weeks.

“It’s just waiting for more people to discover it. I hope we’re one of the biggest beneficiaries of that purchase,” he added.

Epstein said Liberty did not need to change the sport, just bring more visibility and shed more light on the series through broadcast agreements and social media.

“Right now there’s enough fans for one race. Even that’s not a sellout,” he said. “Right now, there’s not enough fans for more than one race.”

Asked whether MotoGP and F1 might one day share a weekend at the circuit, Epstein saw plenty of complications.

“They do both bring different sponsors and different activations and manufacturers. We would be bulging at the seams from that standpoint,” he said. “And also you’d have to do a lot of changeover of track signage.

“It’s possible, I don’t know that it’s probable,” Epstein maintained.

On the Formula One front, Epstein announced COTA was offering fans the chance to make a profit by selling back their general admission early bird tickets for $350 in an unusual promotional ploy.

More than 10,000 such tickets have been sold already for some $299 each and Epstein was confident they would be worth far more once the concert line-up was announced later this month and that most would hold on to them.

Headline acts in the past have included Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Pink and Billy Joel. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)