NOVEMBER 24, 2000

Walkinshaw and the Russians

TOM WALKINSHAW has signed an agreement with the Moscow city government to create and develop an international racing facility in Moscow.

It will be the first time that the TWR company has been involved in developing a racing circuit, although Tom Walkinshaw himself ran Silverstone for a period when he was chairman of the British Racing Drivers Club in the early 1990s. In the end Walkinshaw was voted off the board when club members objected to an arrangement in which the club purchased a chain of Tom's garages.

The circuit being planned will be built on Nagatino Island, to the south of the city on the Moskva River, and appears to be based on the same concept as Montreal with existing roadways being linked up to form a quick and cheap racing circuit with easy access to the downtown area. Work is expected to start next Spring and should be completed within two years, although things will obviously be slowed down by the harsh Russian winters.

There have been a number of different projects for racing circuits in Moscow and in February the city government voted to build a Formula 1 standard racing circuit at Molzhaneyevsky, close to Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport to the north of the city. That program seems to have been rejected because it was too expensive and needed private investment which was not forthcoming. There were also rival bids from the cities of Tula and Leningrad.

Whether or not there are plans for this track to be used for Formula 1 remains to be seen although Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is not keen on taking Grand Prix racing to Russia because of the problems in recent years with organized crime in that country, which he feels would reflect badly on the sport.

Walkinshaw obviously has no such worries.