Shortly before it heads into the final stages of campaigning ahead of its state election, the Queensland government has ordered a review into the success of the current ArmorAll Gold Coast 600 event at Surfers Paradise.
According to a report in the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper, the review has been commissioned by Events Queensland to look further at the “financial and social impact” of the event on the local area.
The event has been a major part of the IndyCar/CART/ChampCar calendar between 1991 and 2008, before an aborted attempt to stage a round of the A1GP Series in 2009.
For the entire duration, the V8 Supercars have played a supporting role to the open-wheelers, but the last three years have seen the tin-tops enjoy top billing.
For the last two years, the event has been run as a ‘paired driver’ event, with international-class drivers brought in as co-drivers to the established V8 Supercars drivers.
Last year’s event attracted over 170,000 fans and brought some $35 million into the local economy.
However, fans should not fear this review, which appears to be investigating the possibility of adding another international racing category to the event.
But hopes that the IndyCar open-wheelers could make a return are slim – despite the current field including two Australians and a New Zealander as full-time drivers on the grid – because a light rail track is being built on some section of the circuit, making it unsuitable for the ultra-low ride heights of open-wheelers.
Perhaps the FIA World Touring Car Championship – which has historically scheduled a championship round on the same weekend as the Gold Coast 600 – could look to expand its international reach with a round in Australia? Not only would it be offering a ready supply of top-line touring car drivers to complement the V8 Supercars’ co-driver requirements, it would also benefit significantly from the adventure ‘Down Under’.