Ho-Pin Tung became the first Chinese driver to race in IndyCar at Infineon Raceway in August
More than 50,000 people packed Olympic Park – between the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube venues made famous during the 2008 Summer Olympics – in Beijing in early September to watch a midweek pit stop demonstration.
Ho-Pin Tung, who a few weeks earlier became the first Chinese driver to compete in an IZOD IndyCar Series race, wasn’t surprised by the turnout. China, which plays host to an annual Formula One race in mid-April and for the first time in 2011 two rounds of the FIA GT1 World Championship in September, is a burgeoning motorsports market.
“The China automotive industry is experiencing explosive growth and it is just smart to begin establishing our brand and business roots in the China marketplace,” INDYCAR Commercial Division President Terry Angstadt said.
Seeing the fan interest and potential business opportunities for commercial partners, the IZOD IndyCar Series will race on a temporary street circuit in the seaside city of Qingdao (between Beijing and Shanghai) beginning in August 2012.
“Motorsports is still relatively young in China, even though it has had Formula One for a number of years (on the Shanghai circuit),” said Tung, who turns 29 on Dec. 4. “Motorsports is developing and it’s something that I’m trying to help together with the Chinese Federation (FAC). We’re doing a go-kart program to develop young drivers and getting them up the ranks to formula racing.
“Racing is growing and one example is I was never into Twitter or anything and a friend said I should start a Chinese Twitter. Now I’m over 1000,000 (followers) and it shows the sport is alive and we’re being followed. I get so many replies and support from there and it would be amazing to race in front of my home country in IndyCar.”
Tung already has raced in China with Exim Bank Team China, driving a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 in the FIA GT1 World Championship at the Ordos International Circuit (Inner Mongolia) and at the Goldenport Park circuit (Beijing). Lucas Luhr teamed with Michael Krumm to wrap up the drivers’ title in the 10-race international series Nov. 6 in San Luis, Argentina.
“It’s a big international series, and there aren’t a lot of international formula races in China so IndyCar will definitely be an amazing addition to the calendar for the country,” said Tung, who competed for Dragon Racing at Infineon Raceway in August. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to contribute to make the race a big success.” IndyCar.com
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