IndyCar CEO Mark Miles is flying to Australia to discuss the series’ possible return to Surfers Paradise.
With recent interest expressed by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in having IndyCar race on the Gold Coast, Miles and members of his executive team will explore whether reviving the popular event is feasible.
“Will Power was in Australia for a holiday and spoke with lots of media, then met with some governmental officials which culminated in meeting with the Premier of Queensland, and she asked ‘with whom do we meet about a race?’” Miles told RACER. “He directed her to me, she sent me an email the next day, and almost two weeks later, we’re headed down there to see what’s possible.”
Fashioned as a beachfront street race by Queensland and the CART IndyCar Series in 1991, the Surfers Paradise venue was active through 2007 with Champ Car, and held one final event — a non-points round — in 2008 with the modern IndyCar Series before it was shuttered.
Using a shortened version of the circuit, it transitioned to a V8 Supercars event in 2009. And with a unique format introduced in 2010 where international drivers took part in a pair of endurance races, the Gold Coast 600 featured many of IndyCar’s biggest names though 2012; in recent years, the Supercars weekend has operated without the international component.
Owing to the strong presence IndyCar once held in Australia, Miles welcomes the idea of bringing Surfers Paradise back on to the series calendar if the terms make sense.
“There’s enormous affection and nostalgia in our paddock for when IndyCar raced there, and I believe it’s held in Australia, as well,” he said. “We’ve only heard good things about the experiences from our teams and drivers who’ve raced Down Under in IndyCar, and it’s meaningful beyond nostalgia. It means talking to broadcasters, promoters, and others with sources of funding, and there’s a strong vision of what this could be.”
With Australia’s Power serving as the defending Indy 500 winner and New Zealand’s Scott Dixon standing proud as IndyCar’s newest champion — his fifth title since 2003 — the series has two marquee names to offer local fans, and more would likely join the field for open-wheel racing’s return to Oz if a deal can be arranged for 2020 and beyond.
“It’s not like we’re trying to create the ‘Back To The Future’ series by going back to places we once raced, but it has worked in some cases; not in all of them,” Miles added. “And we’ll see whether this is the right time to try it again in Australia.”