Plans in works to keep Champ in Australia until 2013

Updated: October 22, 2006, 3:03 AM ET
Associated Press

SURFERS PARADISE, Australia -- As the Indy 300 welcomed its 4 millionth spectator Sunday, plans were under way to keep the event in Australia until at least 2013.

The current contract between race organizers and Champ Car expires in 2008, but race chairman Terry Mackenroth said Sunday that meetings have already taken place to extend that another five years.

"That's subject to negotiation, but the Premier [Peter Beattie] and the government are committed," Mackenroth said.

The Queensland state government has heavily subsidized the race since it was first held in 1991, but Beattie says tourism and the local economy benefit.

Champ Car series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven, an expatriate Australian and team owner, said the series would also like to see the Australian race continue.

"There's a lot of mutual respect on both sides and we would like to keep everything going," said Kalkhoven.

Former Formula One owner Paul Stoddart, an Australian who lives in Britain, has been meeting with Kalkhoven and other series officials about the possibility of entering a team next year.

The race has averaged more than 300,000 spectators for the past several years, and topped that total again this year.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press