Nikon Indy 300
|Surfers Paradise Street Circuit|
|Circuit length||4.47 km (2.79 mi)|
|Race length||269.88 km (167.70 mi)|
|Most wins (drivers)||Sébastien Bourdais (2)|
|Most wins (constructors)||Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (6)|
|Last race (2008)|
The Nikon Indy 300 was an open-wheel motor race event that took place at the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit in south east Queensland, Australia. Known generically as the Gold Coast Indy 300, Japanese camera giant Nikon was announced as new naming rights sponsor in early August 2008. The challenging 4.47 kilometre track has several fast sections and four chicanes.
The race had been an annual event since 1991 originally as part of the CART IndyCar World Series. Then, following the split between CART and the newly formed Indy Racing League (IRL) in 1996 and the subsequent dissolution of CART in 2003, as part of the Champ Car World Series.
Following the merger of the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series in February 2008 the future of race had been secured until 2013 as an IRL IndyCar Series event, however the race was omitted from the 2009 IndyCar Series season calendar, and subsequently dropped by the IRL completely.
The races early years were dogged by controversy as Australia's motor sport governing body the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) initially refused to sanction the event. The Queensland State Government has been largely supportive of the event while the Gold Coast City Council support at local level has varied in its level of support, even occasionally openly hostile to the event. However by the late 1990s the race had become a well attended and popular event on the Gold Coast calendar with tens of thousands of spectators attending each of the four days of the IndyCarnival.
From 1991 to 1997, the Gold Coast Grand Prix was typically held in March, and several times served as the CART season opener. In 1996, the Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne) moved from the fall to the spring. It created an undesirable scheduling conflict which eventually saw the Gold Coast Grand Prix move permanently to October starting in 1998.
In the 2002 event there was a frightening incident when a nine-car pile-up occurred at the start in very wet conditions – however no significant injuries were sustained. In 2003 a massive thunderstorm struck the area during the race, leading to a red flag. Again no injuries were sustained.
The event lost much of its lustre from 2004 as the split between American open wheel racing series started to draw teams from the Champ Car World Series across to the IRL IndyCar Series whose calendar was considerably more domestic than the well travelled Champ Car World Series. The falling popularity of open wheel racing in America has further devalued the event in recent times with NASCAR dominating the U.S. racing scene to the point where the growing influence of support category V8 Supercar removed Champ Car from top billing of the event into an equal top billing not seen at any other Champ Car event. Traditionally the CART/Champ Car race was the final event of the programme, but in recent years the final V8 race has held this place.
On 5 March 2008, it was announced that the IndyCar Series would travel to Australia for the first time, but due to contractual issues the race would not count towards the 2008 championship and would be a stand-alone demonstration event, in light of the recent merger between Champ Car and the IRL.
On 11 November, after extensive negotiations with the IRL broke down, the Queensland Government reached a new five-year deal with A1 Grand Prix to stage a race at Surfers Paradise, severing its eighteen-year history with American open wheel racing. On 25 February 2009 it was announced that the event which combine one of the first few rounds of the 2009/10 A1GP and the 11th round of V8 Supercar Series would be produced through a partnership between IMG and the Queensland's local government. The event which was formally known as the Gold Coast Indy 300 would be renamed as the SuperGP.
However, on 17 October 2009, A1GP Chairman Tony Teixeira announced that the UK operating arm of the series went into liquidation in June. Access to the A1GP cars and the ability to pay its suppliers has been impeded. That caused the cars could not leave the UK[clarification needed] to be on track in Surfers Paradise on 22 October. A1GP had been forced to withdraw from participation in the Nikon SuperGP. Contractors engaged directly by A1GP who have already incurred expenses on their behalf will be fully reimbursed. A1GP will refund to Gold Coast Motor Events Co the sanction fee paid, and will donate A$50,000 to a charity designated by them. Since A1 Grand Prix subsequently withdrew from the event and for 2009, it became a V8 Supercar only headline event, the Gold Coast 600.
- "Nikon announced as naming rights sponsor for Indy". Queensland Government. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
- "'09 expansion". Official Website of the Indycar Series. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
- "Indy car race secured by Gold Coast until 2013". couriermail.com.au. 5 March 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
- "A1GP to race in Surfers Paradise". a1gp.com. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
- Stolz, Greg (11 November 2008). "Race over for Gold Coast Indy". couriermail.com.au. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
- "Gold Coast race gets new name". a1gp.com. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- "A1GP statement". a1gp.com. 17 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
- Mival, Al (17 October 2009). "V8 Supercars to replace scrapped event as A1GP cars fail to show". couriermail.com.au. Retrieved 17 October 2009.