CHAMPCAR/CART: Gold Coast Diary Wednesday, Day two

Gold Coast Diary, Wednesday, Day Two By Ron Richards Surfer's Paradise, AUS (October 14, 1998) Day Two It's time we got our bearings straight so today we're gonna talk a bit of geography. When you get on the plane in Los Angeles and head...

Gold Coast Diary, Wednesday, Day Two By Ron Richards

Surfer's Paradise, AUS (October 14, 1998) Day Two

It's time we got our bearings straight so today we're gonna talk a bit of geography.

When you get on the plane in Los Angeles and head off to Australia, you go about as far south as you do west.

Australia's Gold Coast is located about 30 degrees South of the equator - that's farther south than Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where we raced back in May. Here, we are south of the Tropic of Capricorn

Surfers Paradise is located just south of the halfway point of Australia's east coast. It's about 450 miles north of Sydney, which it seems everyone around here is quick to remind you, plays host to the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.

The city of Surfers Paradise itself is much like any ocean resort location. As we rolled into town Tuesday night, Keith Allo, CART's Vice President of Broadcast Services, commented on how it reminded him of Highway A1A on Florida's east coast where he grew up.

It is very similar - lots of surf and t-shirt shops, high-rise hotels and apartments. There is a river that runs parallel to the ocean, too, much like Florida's Intracoastal Waterway. The one thing that always strikes me here, though, is the size of the surf - it's much larger, on average, than Florida; hence the name of the city.

Additionally, there are a few casinos here. And plenty of additional shopping opportunities. It's funny how difficult it is to find something unique. T-shirts and caps make it seem like just about anywhere you would shop in the U.S. It says something about how American culture has, in many ways, become a significant part of culture throughout the world. It also reminds us of the growth and popularity of CART and Champ Car racing in countries all over the globe.

The Surfers Paradise beach was busy Wednesday (remember, we're 14 hours ahead of the US's Eastern Time zone) with springtime (seasons are reversed) vacationers, many of whom are in town for our Honda Indy weekend. The surfers were out in full force but beach games were big, too, with everything from volleyball to building sand castles happening in the sunny, 80-degree weather.

Tomorrow actually is a very busy day on-track but it doesn't include our Champ Cars. All the support shows get their first round of practice and some qualifying in on Thursday. Four different Australian sedan series are part of the show: the Courier Mail GTP (6 classes of cars ranging from BMW 323s and Suzuki Swifts to Maserati Ghiblis, Ferrari F355s and Nissan 300ZXs); HQ Holdens (an Australian make spec series); V8 Supercars (Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons); and the Porsche Cup (mostly 911s).

Wednesday was somewhat of a busy day for the Champ Car teams although the real crush comes Thursday when the 28 crews conclude preparations for the initial practice which is scheduled for 10:30 (local time) Friday morning. Arriving on Tuesday night allows drivers, teams and officials alike to adjust to the significant time change and, hopefully, get onto a somewhat normal sleeping schedule.

Drivers were active Wednesday, too, doing much to help in promoting the race. A group of them went to a nearby Sea World theme park where they were able to swim with dolphins and enjoy the sea life, accompanied by a large contingent of local and national media. Communing with nature continued in the afternoon as several drivers went to a sanctuary to view koalas, kangaroos, birds, wombats, snakes and lizards in their natural environment. Inside CART, which appears weekly on Fox Sports Net, was along to chronicle it all and you will be able to see it on an upcoming episode.

We'll continue the countdown to the race on Thursday and I'll have another installment of the diary. Until then - G'day.

Source: CART Online

------------------------ Internet Access Australia------------------------ --- IAA is MNI's ISP of choice at the '98 Gold Coast Indy --- ---- Melbourne -- Tel. 03 9686 6677 -- Fax 03 9686 6644 ----- ------------------ http://www.iaccess.com.au ---------------------

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Series IndyCar