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American whispers

WE understand that Bernie Ecclestone is within a matter of days away from signing a deal to take Grand Prix racing back into the United States of America - although the man himself is not giving anything away. Questioned on the subject in Australia, Ecclestone dismissed Road Atlanta because the track is too remote, rejected San Francisco because it was on the wrong time zone for live broadcasts of races around the world but admitted that a race could happen "if Vegas comes up with what I proposed". Ecclestone added that he also felt that Orlando (Disney World) would have been the perfect venue but that a deal had not been possible.

If a deal is done we expect that there would not be a United States GP until the year 2000 but that Las Vegas is closest to a deal with Steve Wynn of Mirage Resorts rumored to be willing to put up the money to build a semi-permanent race track in the Las Vegas area. The model for this seems to be Albert Park, which runs through a public park which for most of the year is used for other purposes. The park, however, has all the necessary foundations, roads and buildings so that it can be converted into a racing circuit without too much trouble.

One rumor we have heard is that Las Vegas needs new golf courses and that one of these may double as a racing circuit. The rapid expansion of the Vegas resort casinos meant that the city's famous golf courses were all torn up to make way for casinos and parking lots. We continue to hear suggestions that a similar project may be going on at Indianapolis╩Motor╩Speedway, where a golf course already exists inside the 2.5-mile oval circuit.

One intriguing rumor which popped up at Melbourne is that Long Beach may once again be discussing terms with Bernie╩Ecclestone because of the effects that the CART-IRL split is having on the event. This may explain why Long Beach promoter Chris Pook has been involved in talks with Ecclestone in recent months. As usual, however, the real intentions of Mr.╩Ecclestone are blurred by smokescreens.

One way or another, however, we are confident that there will be a United States Grand Prix in 2000, the intention being for the race to be tied into the launch of Sylvester Stallone's planned film about Grand Prix racing.

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