Hawaii wins a 10-year runBy Joe Edwards
of the CART $10 million
Super Prix at Barbers Point
Hawaii will be home to the richest auto race in history, the event's organizers are announcing today.
The Hawaiian Super Prix, which will offer a purse of $10 million, will be run Nov. 13 at what is now Barbers Point Naval Air Station. The winner will get $5 million, the largest winner's prize ever awarded. Race organizers said they have committed to staging the race here for at least 10 years.
The top 12 drivers in the CART FedEx Championship Series will make up the core of the 16-driver field. Four additional racers will be invited. They will drive Champ cars on a two-mile, mostly flat, rectangular track at Barbers Point.
"The Hawaiian Super Prix has chosen the CART FedEx Championship Series cars and its world class drivers for this historic event, and we've chosen beautiful Hawaii as the best locale in the world to showcase the greatest talent in the world," said Super Prix co-founder Richard Rutherford.
The event will be televised live on pay-per-view worldwide.
The race will be divided into two hour-long heats, with accumulated points determining the winner. Points will be awarded for laps led, fastest lap, number of passes and qualifying position. After an hour intermission, drivers will start the second heat in the reverse order of their finish in the first heat.
"This will be an incredible way to end the millennium," said CART's chairman and chief executive officer, Andrew Craig. "To have the opportunity to win $5 million in a single day is staggering."
By comparison, the winner of last year's Indianapolis 500, Eddie Cheever, took home $1,433,000. The total Indy purse was $8.7 million, the richest in auto racing history.
The Super Prix group has not asked the state for any funding.
"The plan they've put together obviously has a lot of appeal," said City Council Chairman Mufi Hannemann. "They really aren't talking about any outlay of government money. We should continue to support it."
"I'm obviously quite bullish," said John Reed, chairman of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "For the state, it's a great deal with very little risk."
Russ Francis, sports coordinator for the tourism authority, said, "I've been working on this event since August of '97. My thought through all of this has been, 'How can we get this thing done?'"
The Super Prix management and ownership team is comprised of auto racing veterans:
President David Grayson is an advertising and marketing specialist with an emphasis on the auto industry. His clients included Mercedes Benz, Volvo, BMW and Jaguar.
Co-founder Bob Kachler has been involved in procuring race-car sponsorships for 25 years. Clients included CART, NASCAR and NHRA.
Phil Heard, general manager and chief operating officer, will run the race operations in Hawaii. He has track management affiliations in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and with CART, Formula 1 and other racing organizations.
Co-founder Rutherford has been involved with CART racing since 1970. He was the first president and co-founder of the American Racing League, which is now the Indy Lights Series owned by CART.