V8 Supercars heading to the US
AUSTRALIA'S V8 Supercar series is heading for the land of 10-gallon hats and JR Ewing.
The local touring car championship is believed to be on the verge of announcing it will race in Texas – the US state made famous by the 1980s television oil drama Dallas.
The Holden and Ford teams will race at an all-new race track in Texas’s capital, Austin, called the Circuit of the Americas. The venue is already confirmed as the stage for a Formula One United States Grand Prix from 2012 and a round of MotoGP bike races from 2013.
V8 Supercars boss Tony Cochrane has made no secret of his desire to expand the series’ appeal beyond Australia. In recent years there have been rounds held in the Middle East and China, in addition to closer neighbour New Zealand.
V8 Supercars spokesman Cole Hitchcock said the US race was “all speculation at this stage” but admitted some new venues were closer to being confirmed than others.
“We’ve been talking to a number of venues and circuits all around the world, for the best part of 18 months,” says Hitchcock. “Some of those arrangements are closer [to being confirmed] than others. These things are difficult to negotiate; but sometimes things can move quickly, sometimes they can move slowly
“Tony [Cochrane] has said anywhere east of Turkey is a potential destination. Now our international status has been confirmed by the FIA, there could be up to five or six overseas races each year, certainly something without alienating the Australian V8 fans and not eliminating any of our Australian races.
“There are circuits all over the middle east, sub-continent, Asia and US who are all looking at us and talking about potentially running us. Obviously as a one-off - we’re not going to challenge the likes of Nascar.”
The FIA has approved expansion of the V8 Supercars championship to 18 races by 2013, with up to six of those to be held at international venues.
The 5.5km-long Circuit of the Americas is a purpose-built grand prix track in the US. F1 races in the US have typically been held on converted courses, such as the Detroit street circuit in the 1990s and, most recently up to 2007, the country’s famous Indianapolis speedway – which combined parts of the high-speed oval with a twisting infield section.
The venue’s owners say the track is “designed for any and all classes of racing”.
Motorsport series outside of the US, including F1, have struggled to appeal to US fans who are typically devoted to homegrown oval racing-based championships – notably Nascar.
The Holden brand will also be unfamiliar to Americans, though many will recognise the Commodore that was sold as the Pontiac G8 in the US in recent years before the latter brand was axed as part of General Motors’ bid to stave off Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Commodore is also expected to be sold in the United States as a Chevrolet from as early as 2013.