The red, white, and blue circuit just outside Austin, Texas is one of the most interesting race tracks on any series calendar. It’s also constantly sinking and settling because of the typically clay-like soil of the local area. Just two winters ago a bunch of the circuit was ripped up, including the back straight, to remove some pipes that went under the track surface and repair the bumps that had been created where they were. This February the track will again be demolished a few layers down to get things back to good.
While the track is okay-ish for big GT cars and fancy track days, it has made for some pretty uncomfortable F1 and IndyCar races, and is damn near impossible to navigate on a MotoGP bike. In fact, some of the MotoGP riders have threatened to boycott the event next year if something wasn’t done to remedy the track surface. The Texas round of the MotoGP season is scheduled for April 2022, and the venue is already booked through Feburary, so they’ve got just a couple of months to figure out the re-pave at best. Normally I’d be concerned about tight timetables, but the Saudi F1 track basically didn’t exist two months ago. Hmmm, maybe I should still be worried.
According to Bike Sport News, FIM Grand Prix Safety Director Franco Uncini has confirmed that COTA management cannot commit to a full repave of the circuit. Instead it will work only on the turn 2 to turn 10 complex of corners, where most of the problems reside.
“We agree to make this section with the riders,” said Uncini. “That is the real minimum we want to solve. We would like to have only one asphalt complete, but they cannot. They say that no time, probably no money I don’t know, but anyway they cannot do a complete resurface. The minimum is from turn two to turn 10 and not only the last layer of the asphalt, but to go under to solve the problem with the bumps.”
If the repairs are affected quickly enough to make the circuit rideable in a couple of months, will the repairs be quality enough to last another decade, or will COTA simply be repaving every few years from now until eternity? I guess it’s a good thing the circuit attracted over 400,000 people to the US Grand Prix this year, eh? They probably need that revenue right about now.
It’s a little bit funny to me that COTA broke ground just 11 years ago, while Sebring remains a horrible bumpy and dangerous garbage dump that hasn’t been re-paved since 1941.