Surfers event creates Wheldon trophy

Organizers of the Gold Coast 600 this weekend announced that the international driver in the V8 Supercars races in Surfers Paradise, Australia, with the best performance will be presented the Dan Wheldon Trophy.

IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Alex Tagliani and Simon Pagenaud are competing in the series’ 11th event of the season as a tribute to their friend and on-track competitor. International drivers are paired with V8 Supercars regulars for the 102-lap races on the street circuit Oct. 22 and 23.

The lineup of the 28 internationals scheduled to compete also includes Marino Franchitti, Patrick Long, Boris Said, Jan Magnussen, Joey Hand and Mika Salo. Wheldon, who was to partner with Holden driver James Courtney in the street race, died Oct. 16 from injuries suffered in a race crash.

"It will be nice to be on track again and hopefully in memory of Dan," said Tagliani, who will have a tribute graphic on the Kelly Racing car and wear the belt of one of Wheldon's firesuits around his arm this weekend.

For Briscoe, a native of Sydney, Australia, the race has been a staple on his schedule since 2006. The drivers tested Oct. 19 on a nearby closed-course circuit.

“Surfers Paradise has always been an enjoyable race," Briscoe said. “It’s a great event; the Aussies put on a great show and it’s always fun to do. I wish we were racing IndyCars there. It’s a great opportunity to race in Australia’s top form of motorsports.

“As a kid, I used to watch the V8 Supercars and over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to race them a few times. I don’t think it’s changed too much since last year."

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