The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has disrupted many racing series, and it now has led to the suspension of major operations at a racetrack.
The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, announced in a statement that it essentially is going on hiatus as restrictions take effect on large gatherings.
COTA chairman Bobby Epstein told the Austin American-Statesman that events that would have drawn nearly 600,000 visitors to the facility over the next three months had been canceled, postponed or placed in jeopardy. The American-Statesman reported that Epstein confirmed a “reduced staff” without specifying how many remained at the track.
The American-Statesman and Associated Press both reported the track was “indefinitely closed,” but a track spokesperson disputed that characterization and said “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.”
“COTA is an amphitheater, racetrack, sports stadium, conference center and place where fans and friends come together to create lasting memories,” the statement read. “Without concerts, races and games, we have limited use. … 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.”
Two major racing events recently were scrubbed at the track. The MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas has been rescheduled from April 5 to Oct. 25. The IndyCar Challenge on April 26 has been canceled.
The track plays host to the Austin Bold’s games in the United Soccer League, which has suspended its season.
COTA also is a concert venue, but its shows are on hold with Austin banning large gatherings through at least May 1.
Formula One is scheduled to race Oct. 25 at the Austin track.