FEBRUARY 8, 1999
More on Russia
IN the course of the last 15 years there have been something like 10 different projects for a Grand Prix in Russia. In the early 1980s it is said that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone went to Moscow and met with President Leonid Brezhnev to discuss a race but in 1983 Ecclestone gave up on Moscow and did a deal with Hungary instead.
It now seems that there are two (or more) projects to lure Grand Prix racing to Russia. Oleg Iarovoy, who was involved in plans for the organization of a race in Kaliningrad in 1993, is understood to be behind one of the current schemes.
Iarovoy is a leading figure in the Centre Automotoclub of Russia in Moscow, a member of the council of the Russian Automobile Federation and involved with ROSTO, an organization which controls the rights to all kinds of motorized sport - from boat racing to stunt flying. To date the only major international motorized sport to have visited Russia is powerboating, which now holds an annual Russian Grand Prix in St. Petersburg. This may be significant as in January the city's governor Vladimir Yakolev announced the creation of a working group to look into the construction of a Formula 1 racing circuit in the city to help develop international tourism. It is not clear whether Iarovoy is involved with Yakolev's working group but it seems likely.
Neither Iarovoy nor Yakolev seem to be linked to a project to build a Grand Prix racing circuit in Tula. We hear that this project emerged during talks between international businessmen and the city and involves Middle Eastern and American backers. Four potential sites were identified and one was chosen. A circuit has been designed but the problem is that the Tula project now needs to get the necessary clearances from the Russian authorities.
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