Despite the Gold Coast Indy Carnival being Queensland’s biggest annual major event, it has had an implacable critic in Gold Cost Mayor Ron Clarke since his election in March 2004. But all that changed yesterday when Clarke finally put his shoulder firmly behind the wheels of the Surfers Paradise street racing four-day carnival.

Today’s Gold Coast Bulletin is fairly chortling at Clarke’s “I was wrong” backflip. More astounding is his admission of how he came to be “walking along the beach this morning with my wife and I decided I was wrong. I don’t know how else to say it.” The Bully saw it as nothing less than an “epiphany”; and by his own yardstick the Mayor would have to agree.

Interestingly when Deputy Premier and number-one Indy booster Terry Mackenroth was contacted for his thoughts on the Clarke conversion, he was travelling to Los Angeles to attend the opening round of the Champ Car World Series — and not for the first time. Just because Melbourne has an F1 Grand Prix would that justify Steve Bracks or John Brumby flying half way around the world to attend a Grand Prix junket of what is after all a commercial business enterprise?

Or was his visit prompted by the racing debut of the Queensland-Gold Coast sponsored Team Australia Champ car entrant owned by Gold Coast businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish who have bought into a team operated by the US-based motorsport identity Derrick Walker, in the ailing series that lost upwards of US$45 million last year? One assumes there is no state government money tied up in this commercial racing team, given the state already pays an inflated $8.5 million race sanction fee to the Champ Car governing body, which already admits the Surfers race is the “jewel in its racing crown”.

In fact given commercial realities, Champ should be paying Queensland and the Gold Coast for the privilege to use its street circuit to help flog its struggling series to everyone else rather than the other way round!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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