COTA plans to hire new chief operating officer - Austin American-Statesman

Kevin Lyttle  American-Statesman Staff

Innovative international marketer Katja Heim, this week named one of the most influential women in Formula One, is expected to become chief operating officer at Circuit of the Americas.

Heim, a 56-year-old German native, is CEO and founder of KHP Consulting, an integrated marketing communications agency that specializes in F1 and motorsports and also has worked with the NBA and PGA European Tour. KHP has pioneered strategies that have helped how people experience sports.

“Katja is our soon-to-be-named COO and has been consulting in an increasingly more active role for COTA since its inception,” Bobby Epstein, COTA’s chairman, told the American-Statesman. “She has organized and helped launch more grand prix races than anyone else and is intimately familiar with the business of F1 and the challenges faced by a race promoter.”

Wednesday was the sixth anniversary of the announcement that Formula One was coming to Austin.

In November, COTA parted ways with CEO Jason Dial after a fourth U.S. Grand Prix plagued by stormy weather and termed “financially devastating” by Epstein.

Heim was ranked 87th on Paddock’s annual list of the top 100 movers and shakers in Formula One. She was 80th last year.

Paddock, motorsports’ business and lifestyle magazine, placed Epstein 67th in this year’s grouping.

The panel at Paddock offered this comment on Epstein: “Bobby was the key player in bringing F1 back to the US following the Indianapolis race which had its problems. Despite financial worries, F1 needs to be in the US, so we hope Bobby can persuade Bernie (Ecclestone) of this!”

Epstein’s world-class track in Southeast Austin, which has a capacity of 120,000, will host its fifth U.S. Grand Prix on Oct. 23.

He took the honor in stride.

“I can be off the list and irrelevant just as fast as I got on it,” Epstein quipped. “My inclusion reflects the relevance of the U.S. to the future of F1. Coming into our fifth Grand Prix, we hope our team’s experience and input prove valuable to the sport.”

Eighty-five-year-old F1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone, to no one’s surprise, is No. 1 on the 2016 list.

Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helú, CEO of Telmex, is No. 15. Previously identified as the world’s richest man, Slim and his son Carlos Junior were highly influential in luring an F1 race to Mexico City.

Claire Williams, deputy team principal at Williams F1, is the top-ranked woman at No. 20.

Gene Haas, a NASCAR owner now making his presence felt in Formula One, made the list for the first time at No. 30.

Three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is the top-rated driver at No. 37.

Michael Cox