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DATE News (chronologically)
07/20/10
f1
More info on Austin F1 race  UPDATE KXAN reports new details on the groundbreaking of Austin's Formula 1 racetrack. A source close to the project says groundbreaking will take place in December.  The track should be complete by June 2012, with the racing series debuting here shortly after. The series is scheduled to run through 2021, but officials have not yet released the location of the track.  Promoters say that information is expected sometime next week. KXAN.com

07/20/10 About the only thing state Comptroller Susan Combs didn't like about her recent trip to England and the British Grand Prix was the 300,000 frequent flier miles it cost her and husband Joe Duran to get there and back.

"We're still in a grieving process," Combs joked.

A little less than two weeks ago, Combs and Duran, at their own expense, took a six-day vacation to London and Silverstone, a storied racing circuit about 70 miles north of London. She was on the track's starting grid, chatting with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone , until three minutes before the start of the race.

Combs, along with promoter Tavo Hellmund, has been instrumental in Austin securing the U.S. Grand Prix for 2012 and beyond. Combs said she was even more encouraged about the project after seeing her first F1 race and meeting with Ecclestone.

"He couldn't have been nicer," Combs said. "He's really excited about the project. He has known Tavo for a long time. He likes him. He wants this to work."

Combs said she expects a U.S. Grand Prix to have an annual economic impact of $300 million for Texas. The state has pledged to put up $25 million in public funds annually for 10 years to pay the sanctioning fees for the race, which is being promoted by Hellmund's Full Throttle Productions.

The first year's amount has already been appropriated; in subsequent years, it will come out of the Texas Major Events Trust Fund, which will use money generated in sales and other taxes by the previous year's race.

State records show Combs has met with Hellmund more than 20 times since he first approached her about the project more than two years ago.

"What a serendipitous moment," Combs said. "He came to me because of my job."

What Hellmund may not have known was that Combs was already a racing enthusiast, having followed it, in a fashion, for more than three decades.

Her husband is a computer scientist who used to race cars in the 1960s and is intrigued by the technological aspect of the sport.

Not long after the Texas F1 deal was announced in May, Combs said, she decided that they should see an F1 Grand Prix. The closest one to Austin — Montreal in June — didn't work because of a scheduling conflict. Statesman.com

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