The Gold Coast Indy 300 was an open-wheel motor race event that took place at the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia from 1991 to 2008. The challenging 4.47-kilometre (2.78 mi) track, alongside a strip of beaches, 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.
|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 race had been an annual event since 1991 originally as part of the CART IndyCar World Series, being the first race in the series to be held outside of the Americas. Following the split between CART and the newly formed Indy Racing League (IRL) in 1996, the race continued to be sanctioned by CART until it folded after the 2003 season. From 2004 to 2007, the race was part of the Champ Car World Series, a successor to CART. Following the merger of the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series in February 2008 it was announced that the race would continue as an IndyCar Series event; however the race was omitted from the 2009 IndyCar Series season calendar, and subsequently dropped by the IndyCar Series completely.
The event arrived in Australia on the back of lobbying from a consortium of businessmen from the state of Queensland. The event's 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 had been largely supportive of the event, whereas support at local level from the Gold Coast City Council varied, and was occasionally openly hostile to the event.
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 Indy move permanently to October, starting in 1998. By the late 1990s, as political tensions subsided, the race 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 event.
The 1993 race was particularly notable as 1992 Formula One champion Nigel Mansell's first race in American championship car racing, which he won in front of a large number of travelling British fans and media. It was also the first of a record seven race wins at the event for Newman/Haas Racing. 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 and shortened race distance.
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 (the leading touring cars category in Australia and a support category since 1994) move from a non-championship to championship event in 2002 and take equal top billing with Champ Car, 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 Supercars race 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. Australian driver Ryan Briscoe nonetheless became the first local winner of the event, in what remains the final running of the event to date.
Demise and A1GPEdit
On 11 November 2008, after extensive negotiations with the IndyCar Series 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 would combine one of the first few rounds of the 2009–10 A1 Grand Prix season and the 11th round of the 2009 V8 Supercar Championship Series, would be produced through a partnership between IMG and the Queensland Government. The event was also renamed as the SuperGP for 2009, with the iconic Indy name becoming obsolete.
However, on 17 October 2009, A1GP Chairman Tony Teixeira announced that the United Kingdom operating arm of the series went into liquidation in June, with access to the A1GP cars and their ability to pay its suppliers having been impeded. That prevented the cars from leaving Europe in time to be on track in Surfers Paradise on 22 October. Therefore, A1GP withdrew from participation in the 2009 Nikon SuperGP, with V8 Supercars instead running additional races. 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 became the permanent and sole lead category of the event, which became known as the Gold Coast 600 as of 2010. This event continues to the current day, albeit on a shorter 2.96 km version of the original Surfers Paradise circuit. The original longer circuit has also now been rendered unusable by the G:link light rail network, which now extends along Surfers Paradise Boulevard beyond the existing second chicane.
In June 2016 the Gold Coast Bulletin reported that "secret government talks" were underway to bring back the IndyCar race for 2017 or 2018, and that an area consortium had been given rights to negotiate with IndyCar for an Australian race with a preference for the Gold Coast. IndyCar management would not comment other than to say they were investigating potential overseas venues. With Supercars later signing an extension of their exclusive deal for the event from 2017 to 2019, combined with the prohibitive shorter track layout, and costs of bringing the series to Australia, there are several barriers preventing the revival of the event.
Events which were not championship rounds are indicated by a pink background.
|Season||Date||Driver||Team||Chassis||Engine||Race Distance||Race Time||Average Speed
|Champ Car history|
|1991||17 March||John Andretti||Hall/VDS Racing||Lola||Chevrolet||65||181.545 (292.168)||2:12:54||81.953||Report|
|1992||22 March||Emerson Fittipaldi||Penske Racing||Penske||Chevrolet||65||181.675 (292.377)||2:20:33||77.561||Report|
|1993||21 March||Nigel Mansell||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Ford||65||181.675 (292.377)||1:52:02||97.284||Report|
|1994||20 March||Michael Andretti||Chip Ganassi Racing||Reynard||Ford||551||153.725 (247.396)||1:44:58||80.994||Report|
|1995||19 March||Paul Tracy||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Ford||65||182.26 (293.319)||1:58:26||92.335||Report|
|1996||31 March||Jimmy Vasser||Chip Ganassi Racing||Reynard||Honda||65||181.61 (292.272)||2:00:46||90.218||Report|
|1997||6 April||Scott Pruett||Patrick Racing||Reynard||Ford||57||159.315 (256.392)||2:01:04||78.948||Report|
|1998||18 October||Alex Zanardi||Chip Ganassi Racing||Reynard||Honda||62||173.29 (278.883)||2:01:51||85.328||Report|
|1999||17 October||Dario Franchitti||Team Green||Reynard||Honda||65||181.675 (292.377)||1:58:40||91.849||Report|
|2000||15 October||Adrian Fernandez||Patrick Racing||Reynard||Ford||592||164.905 (265.388)||2:01:14||81.607||Report|
|2001||28 October||Cristiano da Matta||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Toyota||65||181.675 (292.377)||1:51:47||97.511||Report|
|2002||27 October||Mario Dominguez||Herdez Competition||Lola||Ford||403||111.8 (179.924)||2:00:06||55.849||Report|
|2003||26 October||Ryan Hunter-Reay||American Spirit Team Johansson||Reynard||Ford||474||131.365 (211.411)||1:49:02||72.28||Report|
|2004||24 October||Bruno Junqueira||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Ford||57||159.315 (256.392)||1:46:45||89.532||Report|
|2005||23 October||Sébastien Bourdais||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Ford||57||159.315 (256.392)||1:39:26||96.123||Report|
|2006||22 October||Nelson Philippe||CTE-HVM Racing||Lola||Ford||59||164.905 (265.388)||1:50:50||89.259||Report|
|2007||21 October||Sébastien Bourdais||Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing||Panoz DP01||Cosworth||61||170.495 (274.385)||1:45:49||96.669||Report|
|IndyCar Series history|
|2008||26 October||Ryan Briscoe||Penske Racing||Dallara||Honda||60||167.7 (269.886)||1:45:50||95.068||Report|
- "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.
- Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Lomas, Gordon (23 October 2016). "GC600 marks silver anniversary of street race". Speedcafe. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- "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 2010.
- "A1GP statement". a1gp.com. 17 October 2009. Archived from the original on 19 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.
- Weston, Paul (29 June 2016) IndyCars tipped to return as V8 Supercars lock in deal to secure Gold Coast race until 2019 Gold Coast Bulletin.
- INDYCAR: Gold Coast group tries for return Racer Staff, Racer.com. 29 June 2016.