IndyCar Series planners have admitted that losing the trip to Surfers Paradise will open up an opportunity for another, historic, venue to join the calendar for 2010.
After just one trip, the series has confirmed that it won't be returning to the Gold Coast in 2009, bringing the curtain down on 18 years of US open-wheel action in Australia. Scheduling problems and worries over funding have been blamed for the demise of the popular event, which saw many of the famous names of American motorsport triumphing in front of passionate local support since 1991.
The Surfers Paradise was one of two former Champ Car events - along with Edmonton - added to the IndyCar calendar for the first year of unification, but had to run as a non-points demonstration race as the late October date fell outside the already agreed calendar, which ended contractually at Chicagoland in early September.
Queensland state premier Anna Bligh announced that event organisers - comprising the government and entertainment/media giant IMG - and the Indy Racing League had been unable to reach agreement on a long-term scheduling solution and financial terms for the future of the race, and confirmed that the IndyCars would be replaced by the A1 Grand Prix Series from 2009.
Despite having already been told that neither option was acceptable, Indy Racing League officials are again understood to have tabled alternative dates in March and September - the latter to tie in with the scheduled trip to Motegi - when both sides met for talks during the recent Nikon Indy 300 event, but organisers were understandably unwilling to shift from a slot that has become a fixture on the Australian sporting calendar.
"They have an expanded series of events and our Indy clashes with the early part of the American football season," Queensland minister of sport Judy Spence confirmed, "Moving our race to March, as they had requested, was not an option due to the clash with the F1 grand prix in Melbourne and the Clipsal V8 race in Adelaide."
IRL commercial president Terry Angtstadt admitted that, after the welcome that the series had been given 'down under', it was regrettable that an agreement could not be reached for future seasons.
"We are disappointed that we could not find suitable solutions for both the IndyCar Series and Gold Coast Indy organisers, but it was not due to lack of effort," he insisted, "Chairman Terry Mackenroth and general manager Greg Hooton rolled out the red carpet for the IndyCar Series last month, and they are to be commended for their efforts in conjunction with the Queensland government."
The setback, however, will open up a slot for another event to be added to the IndyCar schedule, most likely in two seasons' time, Angtstadt admitted.
"We appreciate the efforts and support of the organisers and the government to North American open-wheel racing dating back to its debut at Gold Coast in 1991, but we will move on, offering our competitors one of the most diverse and challenging schedules in all of motorsports," he reported on the series' official website.
"We're happy with '09 [which includes the IRL debut of former Champ Car events at Long Beach and Toronto], but what it does do give us flexibility for 2010. A Cleveland, a Portland - some of these venues that have real historical significance on the Champ Car calendar - are very interested in holding a race."