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The Grand Prix of India

ALTHOUGH things have gone quiet about a Grand Prix in India in recent months, we understand that the project has been pushing ahead with the government of West Bengal firmly behind the idea - and willing to invest. The government has made available 600 acres of land at Bantola, near Calcutta's Dum Dum International Airport, and this has already been cleared of existing farmers. There are some problems with the drainage of the site but this is not expected to be a major problem and will probably mean that there will be lakes into which excess water can drain. Design work for a track has been carried out by German circuit designer Hermann Tilke (who is also doing consultancy work for planned F1 tracks in Moscow, South Korea and Bahrain) and we hear that a contract is already in place for the construction work to be carried out by the Larsen & Toubro company.

The major issue at the moment is getting the necessary clearance from the Indian national government but we hear that a full business plan will soon be presented to the politicians and national pride will probably do the rest. Funding is to come from West Bengal and from the British American Tobacco company. The only major problem appears to be hotel rooms as the city has only 1000 rooms of the necessary standard and the F1 authorities are demanding 5000.

There has also been a quiet revolution in the organization of motorsport in India with the country's sporting power having recently been taken away from the Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India and given to a new organization called the MotorĘSports Association of India, which is headed by Nazir Hoosein.

We hear rumors that Brands Hatch may be involved in the Indian project and that the head of the Calcutta Motor SportĘClub Ravi Kumar is the man most likely to be chief executive of the event. Bernie Ecclestone is also closely involved as the idea has been developed by a longtime business associate Michael Taub.

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