Just what the world needs another
elite Formula One style motor sport – not!

Opportunist marketing types and
rich Middle Eastern investors wanting to inflict a poor man’s alternative
Formula One on world motor sport – neither solves the manifest problems
besetting Formula One’s profligacy or dodgy politics. More importantly does it provide fans
with a must-have new championship category?

Motor racing at an elite level is
prohibitively expensive and has a critical mass which is already straining under
the weight of its own international rivalries, so when former Formula One
champion driver Alan Jones tell us the new kid on the grid: “A1 Grand Prix is a
great innovation, like nothing ever seen before in motor racing” – it smacks of
the hustle of a used car salesman’s pitch of “have I got a deal for you”?

A1 Grand Prix of Nations is
essentially set up as an out of season open wheeler franchise where individual
countries put together and finance a team with its own internal management and
marketing support to then race representing their country. Hence Jones is the chairman of the
Australian A1 Grand Prix franchise which has raised or is in the process of
arranging its private funding from local investors. Presumably this also factors in a level
of comfortable salary or retainers for those involved in running the local
franchise? Jones has now confirmed
senior appointments in the organization, with also marketing and public
relations services provided by ICON International Communications, Singleton
Ogilvy & Matheron handles advertising, STW Sports and Events has responsible
for sourcing sponsorship, and Elite Sports Properties takes care of corporate
hospitality.

Racing from September this year
through to March 2006, this new international 12 race series billed as the
“World Cup of Motorsport” has scheduled the fourth leg on November 4-6, at Sydney’s Eastern Creek International
Raceway.

With A1 Team Australia still
to announce its drivers and TV broadcast rights yet to be negotiated,
there’s still much to be done before the Australian franchise is under starter’s
orders. As to who can be bothered to turn up at Eastern Creek to
watch this new “business” race, Jones is confident his countrymen will get right
behind their “national team”.

We shall see.

Peter Fray

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