Gold Coast committed to Champ Car
The Gold Coast would keep Indy until at least 2013 under plans by the Queensland Government to lock in the future of the state's premier tourism drawcard.
However, the long-term future of the Champ Car series remains a concern, amid fears there is not enough room in the US for two major open wheel racing series after the acrimonious split between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League in the mid 1990s.
Asked yesterday what would happen if the American Champ Car series folded, Indy chairman Terry Mackenroth said organizers of the Surfers Paradise event would 'come to that bridge if and when it ever happens'.
"What I can say is that the Government has made it clear that it is prepared to start negotiating for another five years," he said.
"We will sign (a new contract) sometime in the new year."
The Indy management's willingness to secure the long-term future of the Surfers Paradise event follows renewed speculation that the Champ Car series is in trouble, with just 17 drivers coming to the Gold Coast this year, two of them last-minute inclusions.
The current contract provides for at least 18 drivers.
Gun Aussie driver Will Power has implored motorsport powerbrokers to sort out the problem, acknowledging that some races in the US were struggling.
"I think they (Champ Car and the IRL) should come back together ... that's the best thing for open wheel racing in the US," he said.
Premier Anna Bligh yesterday moved quickly to quash speculation that the Gold Coast Indy was in danger of losing its international flavor, running as a V8s only event.
"Every year Indy management does a review ... it does surveys and there's no doubt that the V8s are very popular," she said.
"But my view is that the great success of Indy is that it brings the V8s and the Champ Cars together and it's an international event.
"It's a very powerful combination. Our view is that the Champ Cars are here to stay. We invest $11.4 million because it is such a big international event."
Latest research commissioned by the State Government shows Indy generates about $65 million for the state's economy.
Sports Minister Judy Spence -- who has attended about a dozen Indy races but this is her first as the minister responsible for the event -- said there had always been speculation about the future of Indy.
"As far as I am concerned this event is assured until 2013," she said. "The people of the Gold Coast should not worry about its future because it's well and truly secured from this Government's perspective."
Indy advisory events chairman John Witheriff said yesterday Indy had become more than just a race for the 300,000-plus spectators who came to the track.
"I think the fact that you have a rock concert which has attracted the caliber of Good Charlotte as its lead act augurs really well for the quality of off-track entertainment," he said. GoldCoast.com.au