JUNE 15, 1998
Bernie meets Tony George
TONY GEORGE, the boss of Indianapolis and the man who runs the Indy Racing League, flew to London last week to meet F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to discuss the possibilities of a Grand Prix at Indianapolis in the year 2000. George flew over with Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever and had a meeting with Ecclestone on Thursday. George is hoping to get the go-ahead from Ecclestone within the next two weeks. "We either have to pull the trigger or pull the plug," George told Agence France Presse, "the year 2000 is right around the corner. F1 cannot afford to misstep in the United States again. If there is going to be a US GP, it should be at Indianapolis."
George said that he hoped that a race would attract 150,000 people which would make it "the largest crowd ever for a Grand Prix".
The meeting between George and Ecclestone comes just a few days after Indianapolis officials handed over details of a race track at the Speedway to the FIA. We understand that the plan is for the Grand Prix track to run down the main straight at The Brickyard in the opposite direction to the Indycars. The track would then turn right into the infield and work its way through the golf course, probably using sections of Shaw Drive, before linking up with Hulman Boulevard - which runs down the middle of the infield to rejoin the oval in Turn One, where there is currently access for emergency vehicles.
When the golf course was designed corridors were left between the fairways in case Indianapolis wanted to build a road course and George says that only one of the holes would be disrupted by the building work.
George said that he has the budget to do the work and to run the race and added that Indianapolis is the only F1 project in the United States which is ready to go immediately. George says that a Grand Prix at Indianapolis would complete his program to "maximize the assets" of the Speedway, which his family has controlled since 1946.
In addition to his meeting with Ecclestone, George visited Goodwood's Festival of Speed and demonstrated one of the Indy turbine cars. He also flew down to Perpignan in southern France, a trip which we believe is related to plans to build an oval circuit in the Rivesaltes area. That plan first emerged six years ago and had the backing of the local Console General des Pyrenees Orientales which agreed to release a 200-acre site for "The Catalan Motorsport Center" close to the main A9 highway to the north of Perpignan. George is also understood to be interested in work on an oval track which has just begun on a site near Berlin, in Germany.
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