IndyCar eyes returns to Surfers Paradise or Perth, AU (Update) UPDATE
V8 Supercars says it is unlikely the streets of Surfers Paradise will see a return of the American IndyCar championship.
|Surfers was always a popular stop for CART and Champ Car but Anton George chose to not return in 2009 and it isn't coming back now|
The United States open-wheel championship hasn't raced on the Gold Coast since 2008, bringing an end to an event which had been running since 1991.
In their absence the Gold Coast race has become the domain of V8 Supercars, who recently extended their deal with the Queensland Government for another three years.
IndyCar executives have been repeatedly quoted over the past two years saying they are keen on an Australian return.
Australian IndyCar star Ryan Briscoe, racing alongside Russell Ingall at this weekend's Gold Coast 600, has also told local media the championship is hoping to return to Surfers Paradise.
But several factors, including track length and dates, stand in the way of the Gold Coast event becoming a stop on the IndyCar calendar once more.
The construction of the light rail on the Gold Coast means the current 2.97km layout of the street circuit - much too short for the IndyCars - is about all the space there is available for a racetrack.
The late October date is favored by tourism officials and the state government as it boosts visitor numbers during a traditionally slow period but comes after IndyCars has finished its season.
V8 Supercars chief executive James Warburton has also indicated getting additional funding to bring IndyCars back to the Gold Coast would be unlikely.
Under James leadership we are open to discussions, but the indicators are that it would be economically unviable, a V8 Supercar spokesperson told AAP.
As it stands the ARMOR ALL Gold Coast 600 is a fantastic success for the community, our sport and the government.03/13/12 The glamorous international IndyCar series could soon return to the streets of Surfers Paradise.
Organizers of the open-wheel car series -- which left the Gold Coast dramatically in 2008 -- have revealed Australia is again on their hit list.
Speaking exclusively to the Bulletin from Indianapolis, the series' chief executive Randy Bernard said it would "make sense" to see the cars head to Surfers Paradise after the China race in August.
IndyCar, formed following the 2008 merger of Champ Car and Indy, is also looking at the possibility of racing in Perth.
Mr. Bernard said a promoter had already "expressed interest" in taking the series to WA following the demise of the Red Bull Air Race.
During its Gold Coast glamour years, Indy attracted more than 300,000 people a year and injected $60 million a year into the economy.
"IndyCar would love to come back to Surfers Paradise," Mr. Bernard said.
"It was a great addition to the series and the drivers and teams all enjoyed being there.
"It makes sense we continue on after China -- it is more economical from a freight point of view."
Both the Bligh Government and LNP Opposition said they were willing to talk to IndyCar about returning to the city.
Treasurer Andrew Fraser said any proposition would need to offer "value for money".
"We already have a great Gold Coast company here (V8 Supercars) bringing an international event until 2013," he said.
"Indy walked away from the city three years ago.
"If they were to come back again we would need to know we were getting value for money."
The LNP also acknowledged the success of the V8s but added the party would like to see the "glamour" return to the city.
Surfers Paradise MP John-Paul Langbroek said if the LNP were elected, the party would be open to talking with IndyCar to see it return to the city.
"We don't want to lose out to Western Australia," he said.
"If it can stack up financially and was logistically possible, we would look at supporting it.
"We would love to see the glamour of the international open-wheeler return to the event."
Mr. Bernard said the company would need to secure a partner or promoter to bring it back, as well as discuss plans with the Queensland Government to "work it all out".
The prospect of returning comes as Queensland Events finalizes a report into the stand-alone viability of the V8 Supercars in the GC600, which attracts 180,000 people over a three-day period.
Mr. Bernard said he would be happy to combine the event with the V8 Supercars but wouldn't comment on the race billing.
"That's something you would have to ask the promoter -- we don't look at them as competition. Our cars are so different to theirs," he said.
This is the first year the IndyCar series will race in Qingdao, China, at the end of August.
Mr. Bernard said an Australian race would be an addition to the series and it would be more cost effective than securing the Formula One race. Goldcoast.com.au