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The United States Grand Prix

AS exclusively predicted earlier this month Las Vegas is still bidding seriously to host the United States Grand Prix with the race promoter Tommy Baker saying that the event will go ahead if the Federal Bureau of Land Management awards a development contract on a 160-acre site to him. There are two other groups bidding for the site which is situated at the southern end of Las Vegas's famous Strip, close to McCarran International Airport. Baker's plan is build a golf course which can be transformed into a 2.5-mile racing circuit. The pit buildings would be permanent structures which would serve as the clubhouse for the golf course for the rest of the year while the fairways would be designed so as to allow for run-off areas and the placement of grandstands.

Las Vegas is very keen to build a new golf course as the only existing one on The Strip is much further north at the Desert Inn. The old Dunes course was torn up to make way for the new Bellagio, Monte Carlo and New York, New York resorts and the Tropicana course disappeared with the construction of the MGM Grand. The original idea of a street course had to be abandoned because although the casino operators liked the idea of a race in Las Vegas to attract more people, they were worried that the disruption would affect the number of visitors to their casinos.

The new plan will not include any casino land but has backing from Steve Wynn's Mirage company and from the Circus Circus empire. The site is south of the main freeway interchange, which means that traffic coming into Las Vegas on Interstate 15 and from McCarran Airport would not be affected.

The track is expected to incorporate at least half a mile of The Strip itself, although the general feeling of the track will be one of parkland, as is the case in Melbourne, the model on which the Las Vegas project seems to be based.

The track would be close to the new 14,000 room Paradise casino resort and there are 45,000 rooms within two miles. The plan calls for spectators to be ferried to the circuit by buses. If the race does happen we understand that Mirage Resorts may decide to build an F1-themed casino resort nearby. A decision is expected in May but the Grand Prix bid seems to be the favorite for success because it offers two uses for the land.

Baker hopes that the event would be the season-closing Grand Prix, scheduled for the Veteran's Day holiday weekend in mid-November 2000.

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