Incoming Indycar President of Competition Derrick Walker has refuelled speculation a return to Australia could be on the cards for the series.
The US racing stalwart told the Speed Café website that the series was willing to listen to pitches to hold a race Down Under. A return to Surfers Paradise, however, is expected to be unlikely, with the Queensland Government removing as much as $8m in funding for the event, which now serves as a standalone round of the V8 Supercars Championship.
Walker praised the long-running success of the Australian event. In its 18-year history, the Gold Coast event was regularly viewed throughout the paddock as having a party atmosphere and for the majority of its existence, served as one of the final races of the year, deciding the overall series championship on a number of occasions.
“We want to go where people want to watch what we’re doing and want to see our show,” Walker said.
“We’re looking for places that make sense internationally for a limited number of races and if we can find them (an event partner in Australia), why couldn’t Australia be one of those locations again?”
The last time IndyCars raced in Australia was in 2008, when Ryan Briscoe drove to victory at the wheel of his Penske Racing machine in a non-points paying exhibition event.
With the exception of Sebastien Bourdais, no driver won on the Gold Coast more than once in its long history – an amazing statistic that increasingly served as a powerful marketing pitch the longer the streak went on.
Names to have taken the chequered flag down under read like a who’s who of a global motorsport hall of fame, with Emerson Fittipaldi, Nigel Mansell, Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Dario Franchitti and Alex Zanardi enjoying local success.
The event also heralded the emergence of a number of talented young drivers who claimed victory and went on to greater success, such as Ryan Hunter-Reay, Cristiano Da Matta and Mario Dominguez.
“It’s always a commercial struggle paying to go there, but I think IndyCar needs an international portion of its schedule and we’re going to go that way (adding more events outside of North America),” Walker added.
IndyCar bosses removed the race from the schedule following the 2008 event due to being unable to reach agreement with local officials over scheduling, with Australia’s Formula One Grand Prix (in March) and national football finals (September) proving to be sticking points on which organisers did not want the race clashing.