There’s No Budget Problem So Big There Isn’t Room To Fund Racing

The state of Texas has been shifting family planning funds, contemplating layoffs and finding any way possible to scrimp together enough extra money to fill in the massive budget gap they are facing.

So, of course it’s the perfect time to spend $25 million on race car driving.

Via Think Progress:

At a time when Texas is dealing with a record budget deficit by slashing essential services and possibly laying off 97,000 teachers, state lawmakers have committed taxpayers to funding Formula One auto racing at a steep price: $25 million a year for the next 10 years.

The motorsport franchise left the U.S. four years ago because of low attendance, but the effort to bring it back — and base it in Texas — has been spearheaded by B.J. “Red” McCombs, the co-founder of conservative media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications. Despite being consistently ranked as one of Forbes 400 richest Americans — with a net worth last estimated at $1.4 billion — McCombs has gotten state Comptroller Susan Combs to agree to build a racing track in Austin at taxpayer expense. Austin’s city government may also invest an additional $4 million a year in tax revenue to facilitate the plan.

Even some Republicans are questioning the wisdom of committing state resources to bring the event to Texas as the state struggles to close a $27 billion deficit:

“I don’t understand why 25 people in Austin could not put up $1 million each if they thought this was a good opportunity instead of the state making a $25 million commitment,” said Senator Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican. “The developers should find the money through private sources.”

Of course, those of us from Minnesota remember Red McCombs well — he left the state after selling the Minnesota Vikings, in part because the state wasn’t going to build him a better stadium for his team to play in.

But why is it that racing always seems to be the one thing that Republicans are willing to break the budget to subsidize?  After all, when Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum suggested cutting the federal dollars that were being used to fund a NASCAR sponsorship, she actually received death threats for the proposal (the bill eventually failed, too.)

So, just a reminder yet again — Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, WIC, birth control, cancer screenings, those are all expendable.  But if a rich guy wants a racetrack, there’s always some money lying around.


Photo by Royalbroil (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago


no T.
no T.7 years ago

Red McCombs is taking away from education by building this track? Let's not forget he is one of the most generous philanthropist, especially when it comes to education. He has given millions to education, most notably $50,000,000 to the University of Texas in Austin (he's also given $35,000,000 to cancer research). The people who oppose this track simply don't understand basic economics. Formula One is one of the world's most watched sports and it will bring in Billions to Austin and the state of Texas. A $25,000,000 investment is nothing when you consider what this will do for Austin... And by the way, $25,000,000 is only a fraction of the costs... Red McCombs and others are putting up over $200,000,000.

My guess is you all like NASCAR. Now who's really the "Red" Neck???

Grace Adams
Grace Adams7 years ago

I know the Romans had circuses as well as bread. But entertainment with the possible exception of that mixed with education to get students attention ought to be either 100% funded by the private sector (either enterprise or non-profit) and done without.

Robert B.
Robert B7 years ago

there are a lot of political hacks out there. They need to go.

Karen H.
Karen H.7 years ago

Would someone please remind me why we fought to get Texas in the first place. Can we give it back now?

Robin McElfresh
Robin M7 years ago

There are morons in every state. Mr. Miller, I am progressive, hate cars & guns and I am unemployed. So please don't assume everyone in Texas is short-sighted, greedy and ultra-conservative. There are quite a few moderates and progressives in this state-unfortunately the governor is not one of them.

Pamela D.
Pamela D7 years ago

It is just inconceivable that they would even think of it.

Ernie Miller
william Miller7 years ago

Sounds just like Texas. they dont care about any thing but fast cars guns and taking advantage of the poor

Lucy D.
Lucy D7 years ago

I'm with Jeremy--Why not require potential candidates to acquire at least 500 hours of community service before running for office? And why not require them to perform a certain number of service hours in their home states during their terms? They certainly get enough time off. Furthermore, how many recipients of community service can afford a $1,000/plate face-to-face encounter with their senators or representatives? They deserve to be heard. It's way to easy for politicians to avoid any contact with us commoners in the US; citizens shouldn't have to pay their representatives to listen to them!

christopher murray

Another reason we don't need Texas. Its amazing that people get upset when stuck in traffic, yet they will pay money to watch traffic. Go figure.