IndyCar Series officials are continuing negotiations that could see the championship return to Surfers Paradise in Australia in the not too distant future. It is understood that the series has been in communication with government representatives in Queensland over the last few months regarding a return to the famous street circuit, which could take place as soon as the 2020 IndyCar Series.
Confirmation of the continuing talks came during a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, where IndyCar announced further details of the 2019 United States television schedule for the upcoming season.
Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owners Hulman & Company, mentioned during the press conference that talks were ongoing with Surfers Paradise and that he hoped a confirmation of a potential race date in 2020 could be made within the next few months.
It was announced in November that talks had been triggered between IndyCar and Surfers Paradise representatives following a visit by reigning Indy 500 champion Will Power to the area in his home country of Australia. Officials told Power that they were interested in IndyCar returning to the famous streets. This led to Mark Miles and Stephen Starks flying to Australia to hold talks with the local government.
With both parties keen to see IndyCar return to the Gold Coast, the likelihood of an event in the future is high. However, there are some aspects of the potential deal that need resolving first. Chief among which is thought to be IndyCar’s requirement for the event to be held in February so as to not disrupt the current schedule with an international race that could provide logistical issues for teams if held at any other point mid-season.
The last IndyCar race held on the Surfers Paradise street circuit took place in 2008 as a non-championship race at the end of the season. Home heroes Will Power and Ryan Briscoe took the honours throughout the event, with Power taking pole before Briscoe took the race victory.
Throughout IndyCar’s absence in Australia over the last few years, the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship has continued to race at Surfers Paradise. The Gold Coast 600 event takes place toward the end of the season in October. This could prove problematic for IndyCar, as Surfers Paradise officials are likely to want both championships racing at the same time of year so as to minimise disruption in the city due to road closures.
This issue is likely to be one of many that will need to continue to be discussed by IndyCar and Surfers Paradise officials. Mark Miles stated today that he hopes to have further news regarding the event within the next two months.
In the meantime, preparation continues for the upcoming 2019 IndyCar Series that will kick-off with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 10. There has yet to be official confirmation of the new title sponsor for the championship following the departure of Verizon at the end of last year, but an announcement is expected within the next few weeks.