Queensland Premier seeks talks over Gold Coast Indy return

Will Power at the 2008 Gold Coast Indy 300

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is seeking to meet with IndyCar in the hope of luring the series back to the Gold Coast as soon as 2020.

Palaszczuk has revealed that she has invited the CEO of IndyCar’s parent company, Mark Miles, to the Gold Coast for talks over a potential return, according to a report in the Gold Coast Bulletin.

The news comes a week after Supercars announced that it was in preliminary talks with NASCAR about that category holding a race at what will next year become the Gold Coast 500, ostensibly in part to make room for another major category to race on the Saturday.

“I used to go to Indy, I can remember the tens of thousands of people that would go to Indy, it brought a lot of investment into the city and a huge entourage of fans from Southeast Asia and North America,” Palaszczuk is quoted as saying in the Bulletin.

“It’s early days but it would be wonderful if we can get this signature event back in Australia and I’d love to hear what Gold Coasters think.”

The Premier earmarked February as the preferred time of year for a revived Gold Coast Indy, a move which would bring it back towards its original March or April slot.

It and its Gold Coast 600 successor have run in mid to late October since 1998, a date which would not be palatable to IndyCar due to a desire to minimise clashes with the NFL, whose season typically begins in early September.

IndyCar first raced on the Gold Coast in 1991 and its early years are widely regarded as the halcyon days of the event, in part due to the calibre of the field at the time.

The last Gold Coast Indy took place in 2008, when the North American open-wheeler series in question was indeed IndyCar again.

However, the race was a non-championship affair due the hasty reunification of IndyCar and Champ Car in a season which even featured separate races at Motegi and Long Beach on the same weekend.

In 2009, the event was held as the SuperGP but A1GP, IndyCar’s replacement on the bill, failed to show as that category collapsed.

The Gold Coast 600 has since been run as a pair of two-driver, 300km races, initially with an international co-driver stipulation and from 2013 as a round of the Pirtek Enduro Cup.

IndyCar has scaled back its international racing to Canada only during that time, with its last race outside North America being in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2012.

In 2016, Kate Jones, who remains the state’s tourism minister, confirmed that the Palaszczuk Labor government was interested in bringing IndyCar back to the Gold Coast but that a return was “a number of years away yet if it was to be the case.”

Should talks actually occur and bear fruit, the old circuit layout could not be used due to the existence of the Gold Coast Light Rail Line beyond the current Turn 4 hairpin.

Meanwhile, NASCAR claims to have “no plans to run a national series race in Australia” at the present time.

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