Hopes of Indycar staging a race in New Zealand remain a pipe dream at the moment despite talk of Pukekohe Park Raceway attempting to entice the American series Down Under.
Kiwi driver Scott Dixon – a four-time winner of the championship – sparked interest when he was quoted recently giving his full backing to the bid. But the 37-year-old was speaking more out of hope than anything and isn't planning on racing in front of his home fans anytime soon.
While discussions have taken place about the series making a trip to this part of the world it appears most of it has been focused on a return to the streets of Surfers Paradise, where the series made an annual visit from 1991-2008.
"There have definitely been talks – more on the Surfers Paradise side," Dixon told The Herald. "[Talk about coming to New Zealand] could strictly be rumours. I can't say I have spoken to anyone of substance that is looking into it or in a governmental role. That is ultimately is where a decision will be made.
"I am from that neck of the woods so it would be brilliant if that was a possibility.
"I also know how extremely tough it would be to pull off. A pipe dream is all it is at the moment but it would be good to see it come to reality."
Dixon admits if there was ever a way to make a compelling case to bring the series to New Zealand it would be on the back of a round in Australia as well.
"It would be a great way to bring Indycar Down Under again," he explained. "You could race in Surfers Paradise and then in New Zealand somewhere. You can somewhat split travel costs, two promoters from those two countries makes it easier to get to a round number that the series thinks is an appropriate number to go all that way."
But actually making the trip financially viable is much easier said than done.
"The issue you have is it is based on a North American series right now," Dixon said. "I think 90 percent of the sponsors are US based and most of them are only US based. It has to be financially viable for the teams where the sponsors don't have to kick in.
"And the television side – the timing for a live race is off significantly for an audience over here."
Pukekohe Park Raceway declined to comment while ATEED – Auckland Council's events arm – said they had not been approached or involved in any discussion around an Indycar event.
ATEED is poised to announce a new three-year deal to help bring a round of the Supercars championship to Pukekohe while a group of promoters continues to work on enticing the all-electric Formula E championship to Auckland.
The cost to stage an international event like Indycars or Formula E is tipped to be $10m-15m. It is safe to assume there would be significantly more return for the city and country with Formula E than Indycars.
In the meantime Dixon is promising to do what he can to help should talks ever get more serious.
"I would do all I can with Indycars, if they think they have something that is worthwhile, to point them in the right direction," he said.
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