The 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon has announced that he has signed up to race in the Armor All Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercar race at Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia in October, where he will find a number of familiar faces from the IndyCar paddock. [See video
"A few of my friends raced V8 Supercars in last year's Gold Coast event and all have great memories," said Wheldon. "It seemed that with some of the names included in this year's race that it was going to be even bigger and better and I just had to be part of it."
Other IndyCar drivers already confirmed for the event include all three Team Penske drivers Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves, together with Ganassi's Scott Dixon, Dale Coyne Racing's Sebastien Bourdais and Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Alex Tagliani, making it something of an end-of-term affair for IndyCar which will wrap its season the previous weekend at Las Vegas.
Surfers Paradise was a popular regular venue in Champ Cars for 18 years until 2007, when the series unified with Indy Racing League to form the current IndyCar competition. The beach-side venue was dropped by the unified series after one year and is still much missed by those drivers who had the chance to race on the Gold Coast, and especially by the Australian drivers.
"I won a few poles in the Indy cars on the streets of Surfers Paradise, but could not get a race win so I certainly have some unfinished business," said Power, who was born and raised in the town of Toowoomba just two and a half hours to the west, and whose series début was at the 2005 Champ Cars Surfers race. "The Gold Coast is always a fantastic event. I love to come home to Queensland."
Fellow Australian Ryan Briscoe, who comes from Sydney, won the sole post-unification IndyCar event run here in 2008 and said that he had "fond memories" of the victory. "The Gold Coast really is one of the best places to race," he said. "The people, the beach, the sun and a great street track make for a great event with an amazing atmosphere - not to mention the Sunday night party!"
"I have been to the Gold Coast before in an IndyCar and the atmosphere and crowd that surround the entire event is phenomenal," agreed British-born Wheldon. "The Gold Coast is a magnificent place and it is topped off every year with this fantastic event which really is one of the best in world motorsports."
Wheldon will be partnering his friend James Courtney in the #1 Toll Holden Racing Team car, while Briscoe will be racing in the other Toll HRT entry partnered by former V8 Supercars champion Garth Tander. Power will team up with Mark Winterbottom in the #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon, and Penske's other driver Helio Castroneves will also be joining the party, reuniting again with Tim Slade in the Lucky Seven Falcon.
"I was delighted when I was asked to come back by team owner James Rosenberg and cannot wait to get back down there," said Castroneves. "You never have to ask me twice about racing on the Gold Coast," he said, adding: "We loved the place in open wheel cars."