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DATE News (chronologically)
11/06/07
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F1 could push Champ Car out of Surfers  UPDATE #6 This rumor is almost downgraded to 'false' today.  Greg Hooton, General Manager of IMG, the company that oversees the annual Gold Coast Indy 300 Champ Car event in Surfers Paradise, Australia, has reacted to this claim and in his opinion, a Formula  One event taking place on the Surfers paradise street circuit is not really a viable option.   How many race promoters can one series (F1) bankrupt? 

“I have seen those reports. Now I can't comment on what's going to happen within the future, but for the race to come to the surface, I think it's highly unlikely,” Hooton said. “The street circuit I don't think would serve, and also the investment from the state government. It would probably take an investment from 10 to 15 times what they make now, and I don't necessarily think they'd be prepared to make it. I don't think the figures would stack up. So the government, like all good governments, do their due diligence, but I think it's highly unlikely. As the Premier of Queensland said at the last race, she's looking forward to the continued support with Champ Car and moving forward into the future. So I think the governments have sort of already moved beyond thinking about that race.(F1)”

11/01/07 F1 bosses have approached the Queensland Government to host its Australian race in Surfers Paradise.

The Bligh Government said yesterday it would give 'appropriate consideration' to any proposal from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, but was reluctant to take on 'someone else's $35 million bill'.

Melbourne's Grand Prix contract is up for renewal in 2010 and its future is in serious doubt after a report tabled in the Victorian Parliament this week showed the Melbourne race ran at a $34.6 million loss -- a cost picked up by the Victorian Government.

The losses were attributed to dwindling ticket sales and sponsorship revenue. Albert Park residents have waged an ongoing battle to stop the race.

Speculation about the future of the F1 in Melbourne comes as the Gold Coast Indy faces its own problems, with the long-term future of Champ Cars in America under threat.

Champ Cars has been hit hard by driver defections, loss of sponsorship and revenue stream issues, a problem exacerbated after it split with the Indy Racing League.

Despite troubles in the US, the Gold Coast Indy continues to be the series' marquee event, attracting 314,000 spectators this year.

Queensland Events Corporation chairman Des Power said yesterday F1 bosses had approached the Queensland Government 'some time ago' to host F1 in Surfers Paradise.

"It was a clandestine approach but the price tag was enormous," he said.

"If we were again approached by F1, obviously in collaboration with (Indy) chairman Terry Mackenroth, any proposition would have to be given appropriate consideration."

The Queensland Government pumps $12 million a year into Indy and the economic benefit to the Gold Coast is estimated to be $60 million.

Mr. Power said the Gold Coast had proved it could put on a world-class motorsport event.

"It's an indelible part of the Gold Coast tourism landscape and one of the biggest events in the country," he said.

"There's no doubt Surfers Paradise is a terrific venue for an international motorsport event. It's become more than a car race."

The Melbourne grand prix report showed revenue decreased from $47.5 million in 2006 to $43.4 million this year while the event cost more than $78 million to run.

Indy bosses are determined to keep the international flavor of the Surfers Paradise race, but the contract with Champ Car extends to 2008.

The Bligh Government has committed itself to the event until 2013.

Mayor Ron Clarke said he was certain Surfers could host an F1 event.

"Anything Melbourne can do, we can do better," he said. "I think it would be a good fit.

"The problem is money. Bernie Ecclestone always drives a hard bargain and that would be the sticking point."

Cr Clarke said F1 was 'dwindling in popularity in Melbourne'.

Another option being considered if Indy falls over in the US is the World Cup of motorsport, the brainchild of Sheik Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum of Dubai.

The World Cup concept is popular, designed to bring close racing back to the sport. All A1GP cars are identical, except for being painted in national colors, with a lightweight 3.4-litre Zytek engine.

It has 22 countries vying for the championship. The Australian race is currently held at Eastern Creek, west Sydney.

But Victorian Premier John Brumby said the Government would review its position on the race next year.

"I have set two tests," said Mr. Brumby. "It's got to be a good event for the state.

"And it's like anything we do, it's got to represent good value for money.

"So that's the test, and we will be examining these things in much more detail next year." Goldcoast.com.au

05/22/07 (GMM) As a rift between Bernie Ecclestone and organizers of the grand prix in Melbourne threatens to widen, rival Australian state Queensland could be shaping up to bid for the annual formula one race.

The event, staged at Albert Park since 1996, is in doubt after F1 supremo Ecclestone warned that only night racing might attract a new contract beyond 2010.

Queensland's famous Gold Coast region had already expressed interest in wooing F1 organizers with tentative plans for a $650m floodlit circuit emerging last month.

Now, in the newspaper Gold Coast Bulletin, the local tourism boss Pavan Bhatia says he has written to his state counterparts to explore the formula one option.

"If there is an opportunity there for us, I believe we need to go for it," he said.

The state government's premier Peter Beattie, however, warned that the priority for Queensland should be the domestic V8 touring car series and the annual Champ Car race, which is held on the streets of the Gold Coast.

But Beattie added: "Let's see. I never say no to anything but I have to say it would have to be a good story."

As a result of all this, perhaps we will see F1 push Champ Car out of Queensland (Bernie would like nothing better) , and Champ Car move to Albert Park in Melbourne to replace F1. Champ Car races are not even broadcast on Australian TV this year (not even tape delayed), which must indicate that Champ Car thinks their days in Australia are numbered so why invest any money in it. Being invisible to fans in Australia all year should ensure a drop in attendance at Surfers, making Bernie's job of pushing Champ Car out and taking F1 to Queensland that much easier.

04/05/07 The head of Queensland's government has poured cold water on reports that a proposed $530 million floodlit race circuit could steal the Australian grand prix from Melbourne. Premier Peter Beattie told the Brisbane Times that planning permission for the land, which is currently used for farming, has not yet been given.  The newspaper also said Beattie has "no interest" in helping the private project to woo formula one.  "This is quality agricultural land," he said, "(and) we've got to be careful what we do with it," he was quoted as saying. Beattie also suggested that the story had been given to the media in a bid to force the government to give planning approval in an environmentally sensitive area.

04/04/07 (GMM) A planned $650 million formula one-style circuit near Australia's famous Gold Coast could pose a real challenge to the status of the current GP in Melbourne.

Local media sources say the proposed 6km track at Nowell, to be penned by renowned F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke subject to a government land planning review, would be equipped with infrastructure for night racing; a concept being championed for the region by the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

The news of Queensland's possible bid for the Australian GP comes after a sustained period of criticism about the cost of the Melbourne race within the rival state of Victoria.

"If Mr. Ecclestone decides that Queensland is a better place to host a formula one race, then that's where it will go," Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker told the Herald Sun newspaper.

The Gold Coast project is being headed by Ron Brown, who intends the site to also host Australia's round of the World Rally championship next year.

He said: "We are not about stealing events from people, but if the grand prix people want to talk then we would welcome that."

04/03/07 More details are now emerging about a bid for a huge new motorsport facility in the Brisbane area. The circuit would be part of a $500m development to be called i-METT, which stands for Integrated Motorsport Education Tourism and Technology. This 1000-acre development would be on land that is currently farmed for sugar cane, between the Pacific Motorway and the coastal Southern Moreton Bay Islands National Park. This is around 25 miles to the south of Brisbane, between the villages of Gilberton and Norwell. It is close to the Holden Performance Driving Centre, a circuit that was created for BMW in the early 1990s then later sold on to Mercedes-Benz and more recently to Holden. It is not clear whether this would be part of the development but that would make sense. Whatever the case the track will be designed by Hermann Tilke and it will include flood-lighting technology from the start so that the racing can take place at night.

Rather than being just a racing circuit, however, the facility would be part of a huge business park and it seems that 90% of the land acquisition for the project has already been completed. The local government says that there is a land planning review going on in relation to the area to decide whether the zoning should be changed. The first event at the site will be the World Rally Championship in 2008 but the aim is to get the Australian Grand Prix to the facility when the current contract with Melbourne runs out. [If the F1 race moves to Queensland it will be a major blow to Champ Car's race in Queensland]

The plan is for there be no public money involved in the project and the organizers say that the facility will be able to fund the Grand Prix itself. It will be interesting to see how things develop. Grandprix.com

04/03/07 There are reports in Australia of plans for a new racing circuit to be built in Queensland, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The stories suggest that the facility would be floodlit. Information is somewhat limited at the moment but the location is said to be at Nowell. The plan is being fronted by Ron Brown. It is not clear if his company has got the money to fund such a construction nor whether it is the same Ron Brown who is involved in organizing Rally Australia in the same region. The rally organization has spoken of a "permanent infrastructure" not far from Brisbane as part of its dealings with the FIA. It remains to be seen if this is a serious threat to Melbourne (F1) or Surfers Paradise, Queensland (Champ Car). Grandprix.com
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