Fittipaldi F1 track near Rockdale, Texas up in smoke
It looks like there will be no Formula One track designed by Emerson Fittipaldi in Rockdale.
“Duh?” you say?
Well, in October Florida-based developers Velocita Holdings Inc. signed a letter of intent to evaluate the purchase of 11,000 acres in the Rockdale area owned by Alcoa. Velocita planned to build a self-sustaining community for green research, one that Velocita claimed could eventually create 5,000 jobs.
Those plans called for the “largest motorsports facility in the world.” According to Velocita literature those plans included state-of-the-art wind tunnels and an F1-grade test track designed by Fittipaldi and Tilke GmbH, the German engineering firm that is designing the F1 circuit for the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin.
Fittipaldi twice won the F1 Drivers’ Championship and also won the Indianapolis 500 two times. Fittipaldi has been involved in ethanol production in Brazil and is listed as one of Velocita’s team members.
Last year, in response to some skepticism about the project, Alcoa spokesman Jim Hodson told the Rockdale Reporter, “Whatever the size of Velocita itself, it’s the middleman in all this. They are actively out finding the companies and organizations to come here and make this vision a reality. … They have tons of people working on it, in engineering, consulting, public relations, government.”
At that time Hodson said the two parties would know in early 2011 if a deal was possible and then would probably take another six months to iron out the details. In late December, however, negotiations fell apart and the letter of intent was terminated.
On Tuesday, Hodson said a sticking point was that Alcoa needed to be able to keep the aluminum smelter on the site, idled since 2008, in operational condition in case production needed to be resumed. A few days ago Alcoa announced plans to restart idled potlines at three aluminum smelters, two in Washington and one in New York.
Velocita Holdings founder and CEO Doug Hutchinson could not be reached for comment. In late December, however, Hutchison told the Rockdale Reporter that Velocita is now looking at an alternate site in the Austin metro area.
On a trip to Austin last fall, Peter Wahl, managing partner of Tilke GmbH, denied any involvement by Tilke in the Velocita project. The Statesman