CHAMPCAR/CART: Fun in the sun at Surfers Paradise

Fast cars, beautiful weather and beautiful people combine to provide a weekend of heart-stopping race action for the spectators at the 2003 Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast.

Pitlane activity before the session.
Photo by David Magahy.
Set on the backdrop of Australia's favourite playground, this high-octane mix of speed, noise, and the spectacle of world-class racing at its finest continues to attract huge crowds year after year, both trackside and perched on the balconies of the high rise buildings lining the streets of Surfers Paradise. This year is no different, with organizers predicting that spectator numbers will exceed last year's record-breaking crowds to bypass the 300,000 mark -- doubling the original attendance figures of 1991.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie says that this year's Indy is certainly on target to topple the 2002 record of 297, 835 spectators over the four days. "The event has the potential to draw over 300,000 people in total and if there's anything that has all the elements to draw those crowds, it's the Indy festival. There is nothing more exciting than watching the Champ Cars and V8 Supercars going full throttle along one of the finest and most highly regarded street courses in the world."

Generating more than 700 jobs and 175,000 visitor nights, with spin-offs for restaurants, bars and shops throughout the Gold Coast, the motorsports and party atmosphere of the Indy bring ample rewards for the Queensland tourism industry- annually injecting a staggering $52 million into the economy. The event also showcases the attractions of the Gold Coast to a potential worldwide audience of over 700 million people.

Although the unforgiving 4.5km temporary street course that winds its way through Surfers Paradise has been dubbed one of the most challenging circuits of the Championship series, the race remains a favourite for many drivers who enjoy the Gold Coast's relaxed atmosphere and sunny weather.

According to series rookie Sebastian Bourdais, driving for Newman/Haas Racing, "The place is beautiful, there is no doubt about that. The course is great, it's fast, it's challenging and long, so it is pretty fun."

Likewise, PF Racing's Paul Tracy says, this year, he arrived Down Under early to soak up the atmosphere before the event. "I love the Surfers Paradise race and I actually came a week early to catch up with some relatives who live here. The Gold Coast is a great place."

Sydney businessman and avid motor racing fan, Lance Walsh, echoes the sentiments of his racing heroes, claiming, "The Gold Coast is a beautiful place: great weather, great people."

BarterCard Miss Indy girl photo shoot.
Photo by CART/LAT Photographic.
Mr Walsh has been coming to the Indy carnival for the past five years, and says the chance to see the action live provides all the motivation he needs to return to the track every year. "I love everything about Indy. You can't beat the vibe of an event featuring the best drivers from around the world. How could you not want to come back? I wouldn't miss it for anything."

The establishment of the Open Wheel Racing Series, following a takeover bid for the financially-stricken CART by billionaire trio Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerry Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi, is set to take the Surfers Paradise race from strength to strength in the years to come, with Australian-born finance mogul Kalkhoven keen to promote it as the 'jewel in the crown' of the world series. He says, "This race tells the world how good we can be."

Sun, surf, speed-the Gold Coast Indy is the event that delivers non-stop action, endless parties and constant excitement from deep in the heart of Paradise.