Gold Coast Indy 300
|Surfers Paradise Street Circuit|
|Most wins (drivers)||Sébastien Bourdais (2)|
|Most wins (constructors)||Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (6)|
|Circuit length||4.47 km (2.79 mi)|
|Race length||269.88 km (167.70 mi)|
|Last race (2008)|
The Gold Coast Indy 300 was an open-wheel motor race event that took place at the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit in south east Queensland, Australia from 1991 to 2008. The challenging 4.47-kilometre (2.78 mi) track had several fast sections and four chicanes. The event had various names during its history for sponsorship reasons; in its final year it was known as the Nikon Indy 300.
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 some 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 further devalued the event, with NASCAR dominating the U.S. racing scene. The waning interest led to the V8 Supercars (a support category since 1994) take equal top billing with Champ Car in latter years of the event, an unprecedented move across the Champ Car calendar. Traditionally the CART/Champ Car race was the final event of the programme, but in later 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.
Demise and A1GP
On 11 November 2008, 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 prevented the cars from leaving the UK[clarification needed] in time to be on track in Surfers Paradise on 22 October. Therefore, A1GP withdrew from participation in the Nikon SuperGP. A1GP refunded Gold Coast Motor Events Co the sanction fee paid, and donated A$50,000 to a charity designated by the board.
Following A1GP's withdrawal, V8 Supercars, who had been a support category to the Indy 300 since 1994, became the lead category, and the event became known as the Gold Coast 600 as of 2009. This event continues to the current day, albeit on a shorter version of the original Surfers Paradise circuit.
Events which were not championship rounds are indicated by a pink background.
- 1991: Gold Coast IndyCar GP
- 1992: Daikyo IndyCar GP
- 1993–94: Australian FAI IndyCar GP
- 1995: IndyCar Australia
- 1996: Bartercard IndyCar Australia
- 1997: Sunbelt IndyCarnival
- 1998–2002: Honda Indy 300
- 2003–07: Lexmark Indy 300
- 2008: Nikon Indy 300
- "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.