Champ Car musical chairs: Philippe to return UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' tonight. We await the formal announcement on Wednesday. AutoRacing1.com has learned that Nelson Philippe's car will be displaying over 5 brand new sponsors to the series. We learned that a young Australian businessman has been working on the sponsor deals and brought them to fruition.
The decision to replace Jan for Surfers makes commercial sense because 1) There will be new Australian sponsors, and 2) Nelson, who won in Surfers last year, has a huge profile in Queensland. The Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper has an article every month regarding Nelson and girlfriend Sarah Buller, who is from Queensland and was last year's Miss Indy. The couple have become the darlings of the tabloid media. Mark C.
10/01/07 [Editor's Note: With the rate at which Champ Car changes drivers from year to year, and race to race, they will never develop a big fan following. The musical chairs of drivers has resulted in lower TV ratings and cancelled races due to fan's getting disgusted and walking away from the sport. Instead of adding more cars, Philippe replacing Heylen, who replaced Matt Halliday who replaced Charles Zwolsman (etc.) before that in the Conquest No. 34 does nothing to increase the car count nor the fan count.]
Last year's Lexmark Indy 300 winner Nelson Philippe was back on track at a charity kart race at Ormeau yesterday, and it won't be his last Gold Coast race for the year.
The flamboyant Frenchman joined five locals in completing 100 laps of the track at Karting in Paradise, to raise money for Buccan man Kris Canning, who received severe brain injuries after a domestic accident last year.
Despite playing it coy about whether or not he would defend his Lexmark Indy 300 title, Philippe said he would participate in this year's event, one way or another.
"Well I have some news but that's going to be announced on Wednesday," he said.
"I'm going to be racing something at Indy but I'm not going to tell you what.
"Especially since I won there last year, it might be tough to sit and watch."
Philippe has spent the past two months in Australia but will fly home to Miami, US, tomorrow, before returning to the Gold Coast for the start of Indy celebrations, which get under way on October 18.
It is rumored that Philippe will sign up with the Conquest racing team and return to defend his crown.
Philippe said he had kept his eye in on the Indy circuit.
"The good thing is that it's like my home race now. I've been here for two months, I've seen the track and I'm very acclimatized and I'm ready to kick some a**."
Philippe said he always enjoyed Indy.
"It's a big big party. Indy is always a good event. I feel very at home, I also have a beautiful Australian girlfriend."
Philippe's girlfriend, 2006 Bartercard Miss Indy Sarah Buller, was on hand to witness her beau complete his 100 laps yesterday morning.
As her commitments start to accelerate in the lead-up to Indy, Ms Buller said she too had big things in store for Indy 2007.
"I have been pretty busy, but once October hits, I've got something pretty much every day.
"All the other girls arrive on the 13th of October so I'll be busy with Miss Indy."
Lexmark Indy 300 general manager Greg Hooton is another looking forward to this year's event.
Mr. Hooton told The Bulletin preparations were moving along well and on time.
"The general feeling of excitement has been increasing over the last couple of weeks and all is looking good. We're down to the last couple of corporate hospitality packages, which is an excellent result," he said.
"We've also had to release a couple of extra grandstands, which we're adding on to the existing structures.
"Of course we're always looking to increase general admission as much as possible and ticket sales have been promising."
Mr. Hooton said he hoped the inclusion of the Indyfest music festival in this year's event would introduce a new generation of fan to Indy.
"Obviously the racing during the day is central, but part of moving forward with this event is to have it seen as an all encompassing festival and we see the Indyfest performances as a vital part of that," he said.
"Part of it is about bringing through the next generation of Lexmark Indy 3000 fans."
The Indy carnival runs from October 18 to 21 - The Gold Coast Bulletin.