APRIL 18, 2005
Street racing in Buenos Aires
Formula 1 has always enjoyed visiting Argentina. Even in the darkest days of military government in the 1970s Formula 1 was an annual fixture at the Autodromo Oscar Galvez in the Parque Almirante Brown. The race only died after the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 and it was not revived until 1995. Until 1999 the race was a popular venue but then the country ran into financial trouble and the race disappeared. The recession was a prelude to the country's economic collapse in 2001 which left Argentina struggling with record debt levels and rapid devaluation of the currency. In 2003 President Nestor Kirchner negotiated a vital deal with the International Monetary Fund and began to promote growth and recently he has restructured the national debt, offering new bonds to replace those on which the country defaulted. The economy is improving and the government is beginning to look at new ways to promote growth. In 2003 Vice-President Daniel Scioli met Bernie Ecclestone to discuss the possibilities of a race in Argentina. Obviously that meeting did not interest the Argentines as in 2004 there was talk of a Champ Car race on the streets of Buenos Aires. That has not happened yet but the track design company D3, run by Australian former racer Ron Dickson, has worked on a project for a 1.5-mile circuit in the downtown area.
Although Buenos Aires used to hold races in Palermo Park in the 1940s these were replaced in 1952 by the purpose-built Autodromo 17 Octobre. This would later become known as the Autodromo Municipal Oscar Galvez and it is still used in various different forms today as the track has a large number of variations of circuit, including the Curvon Salotto track, which is long fast blast around a lake. This section was not included in the F1 track in the 1990s.
Funding a street circuit makes little sense given the resource that already exists as the costs of preparing downtown each year are unlikely to be less than upgrading the facilities at the Autodromo when one takes into account the cost of creating the circuit infrastructure and them putting it in place each year.
Upgrading the autodromo, however, would create the possibility for the Argentines to go off and do a deal with F1 once again.
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