China building big for 2004

The organizers of the planned Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai recently announced that they have a fund of $400m to build a racing circuit in order to welcome Formula 1 in 2004 - and that a deal is in place with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

The Shanghai International Circuit Co. says that it will have the 3.3-mile circuit finished in the time available. The track has been designed by Hermann Tilke, the man who does most of the modern circuits.

According to our information from Shanghai, construction of the new facility is due to begin this month in the JiaDing (ChiaTing) area. JiaDing is an administrative area which covers the north-western suburbs of Shanghai, between the Yangtze river and the sea. There are 19 towns in the district which has a population of half a million people.

As long ago as 1958 JiaDing was named a "science satellite city" by the Shanghai Municipal Government and now boasts the Institute of the Chinese Academy of Science, the Shanghai University of Science & Technology and the Scientific & Technology Management School.

The district is also home to An Ting town, where the Shanghai Volkswagen Car Co., produced the first automobiles to be built in China. Other car factories have followed and An Ting has now become a project called "Auto City".

The Jiading Industrial Zone Development Corporation has spent $1.5bn on infrastructure but the city still features a considerable amount of parkland (around 30%). Money is clearly not an issue in this project although it has still formerly to get the go-ahead to hold the Grand Prix from the China Automobile Sporting Association.

Little is known about the track itself except that it is likely to have a one-mile oval in the center of the road course so that other events can be held at the track. There will be grandstand seating for 50,000 people.

Communications are good with the Shanghai-JiaDing Express Highway (which was China's first motorway) covering the 20 miles between Shanghai downtown and JiaDing City. It is only about 15 miles from HongQiao International Airport.

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