MARCH 11, 2004
Racing in Las Vegas
The big rumour in the United States at the moment is that one of the Champ Car races to be announced later in the year will be a race on the streets of Las Vegas. The race is scheduled for some time in November and one of Champ Car's new owners Paul Gentilozzi says he is negotiating with at least one Las Vegas hotel to host the series' final race of the year. Gentilozzi flew to Vegas this week for talks.
"The opportunity to race in Las Vegas will bring in tens of thousands of people," Gentilozzi told US media. "But it's not just about how many people would come or how many dollars they spend. It's the people from all over the world who would get a look at Las Vegas - maybe for the first time. It is a place we want to be. It's just figuring how we can do it and finding the right partner."
Formula 1 tried racing in Las Vegas back in 1980 in the grounds of the Caesar's Palace Casino but the event was not a great success and was called off after a couple of years. There were at least six other attempts to create an F1 race in Las Vegas. Bernie Ecclestone tried hard to do a deal in the late 1990s, the idea being to offer a free ticket to the race for anyone who bought a hotel room in the ciy.The original idea of a street race had to be abandoned because although the casino operators liked the idea they were worried that the disruption of a street race would affect the number of visitors to their casinos. There was then an attempt to promote the idea of a Albert Park style semi-permanent race track which would double up as a golf course for the rest of the year but the $70m project fell flat when a rival bid for a golf course (without the race track) was successful and the Bali Hai golf course was built on the site.
It will be interesting to see whether nor not Gentilozzi will be more successful than Ecclestone was.
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