NASCAR considering Gold Coast exhibition race
Australia’s Supercars Championship is in talks with NASCAR about a stock car exhibition race on the Gold Coast in 2019.
A NASCAR demo was held Friday when DJR Team Penske drivers Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard took the 2016 Charlotte All-Star winning car of Joey Logano for a ride around the Surfers Paradise track as part of a crossover promotion with Shell. The car was already on display at the DJR team shop.
“It is still very early days,” Supercars CEO Sean Seamer told Speedcafe.com. “We don’t want to get carried away, but those guys came down and met with us in August, and we committed to having a more open and regular dialogue.
“We have spoken to DJR Team Penske and we are gathering information on how we might be able to get cars out and when we might be able to get cars out. Obviously, they have got a lot of cars in rotation along with engines, so we will work through all that with that. Is it a combination of main game, Xfinity or Trucks? All that needs to be worked through.”
NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell and well as vice president of innovation and racing development John Probst visited the series’ inaugural visit to Bend Motorsport Park two months ago.
“We look forward to working with our friends in Supercars to share best practices, but right now we have no plans to run a national series race in Australia,” NASCAR told RACER in a statement.
NASCAR currently has one national series race outside of the United States: the Camping World Truck Series competes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park during the summer. What is now the Xfinity Series also once ran points races in Montreal (2007-’12) as well as Mexico City (2005-’08).
In the late 1990s, the NASCAR Cup Series ran exhibition races in Japan, when drivers like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Rusty Wallace took part in events at Suzuka. Then in 1998 an exhibition race was held at Motegi, which is now remembered as the first time that Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ever raced against each other.
As for the Gold Coast, its connection to American sports and fans lies in its status as a popular stop on the CART/Champ Car schedule from 1991 until 2008.
“We’ve had very productive conversations between Supercars and Tourism Events Queensland, and I give this assurance, I want to see this event continue to grow,” said Kate Jones, Queensland’s Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, according to Speedcafe.
“Certainly, looking at new products and new races to add to the event are part of those discussions. We know that Supercars is a race product, but we also know there are many fans out there that would love to see NASCAR added.
“We will continue to have those conversations to ensure we grow this event and have even more people coming to the Gold Coast to enjoy this experience.”
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ABOUT KELLY CRANDALL:
Kelly has been on the NASCAR beat full-time since 2013, and joined RACER as chief NASCAR writer in 2017. Her work has also appeared in NASCAR.com, the NASCAR Illustrated magazine, and NBC Sports. A corporate communications graduate from Central Penn College, Crandall is a two-time George Cunningham Writer of the Year recipient from the National Motorsports Press Association.