Could we see international drivers compete at Austin?

The growing success of the ‘international class’ drivers being in action at last weekend’s ArmorAll Gold Coast 600 has sparked suggestions that a similar format could be adopted when the V8 Supercars championship stages its maiden race on American soil at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas in 2013.

Last weekend’s event at Surfers Paradise saw 28 overseas-based drivers – from categories such as Formula 1, IndyCars, touring cars, Le Mans and GT racing – compete alongside the established V8 Supercars drivers over two 300-kilometre races.

It is understood that organisers of the US event are keen to see American-based drivers compete alongside their V8 counterparts, and the V8 Supercars officials will meet with those from Texas in the coming months.

“We’ve had lots of discussions with the Circuit of The Americas and we’re scheduled to meet with them in America in March or April next year,” said V8 Supercars chairman, Tony Cochrane.

“They have a couple of ideas of their own but certainly the idea of American drivers doing one stint of the weekend is one of the ideas on the table.

“There will likely be a large delegation coming to Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 in March, so after they have a look at that event we’ll make a decision.”

Cochrane added that announcements confirming the date and format of the Texas event will be made together.

Certainly the notion of pairing home-grown drivers alongside the V8 Supercars drivers will help build a far greater interest in the event; America is certainly a difficult foothold for international motorsport events at the best of times.

Last weekend’s round at Surfers Paradise saw 180,000 fans attending over the four-day event, an increase of 10,000 spectators from the previous year.

“My attitude is it (the international format) is here forever,” Cochrane added, no doubt delighted with how the event has given the series more international exposure.

“One of the indirect benefits of the new format is that we’ve got all these world class international ambassadors and that’s got to be a good thing not only for V8 Supercars but for the Gold Coast event.”

The next round of the V8 Supercars championship is in two weeks time, when the cars head to Symmons Plains for the Falken Tasmania Challenge from November 11-13.

[Image via Getty Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.