Friday, February 26, 1999

Auto race to
rev up economy

A tourism official says
the event will bring in about
$85 million to the isles

By Russ Lynch


Key state and city officials yesterday welcomed a major auto race to be held on Oahu later this year, saying it will boost Hawaii's economy and further broadcast the state's possibilities as a venue for international sporting events.

Seiji Naya, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, told a news conference held by Hawaiian Super Prix I that the Nov. 13 race and related events will result in an estimated $85 million in direct spending in Hawaii. Naya said the organizers will hire some 750 workers for the race.

In addition, Hawaii will get worldwide television exposure as the race is broadcast on Pay-Per-View television, Naya said. Russ Francis, a DBEDT official helping the Hawaii Tourism Authority, has been working with the race organizers for more than two years, Naya said.

"We didn't really believe that this will come true," Naya said. However, the promoters convinced the state of the reality of the event and Naya said a contract was signed yesterday morning.

Promoter Richard Rutherford has been given the right to use what is now Barbers Point Naval Air Station for the event three years in a row.

Most of Barbers Point becomes state property July 1.

Francis called the race "an important new cog in our wheel of economic recovery."

Rutherford said his group will spend about $20 million on this year's race, including $10 million in prizes for the racers. The winner gets $5 million.

David Grayson, president of Hawaiian Super Prix, called Hawaii a "premier venue for world-class sports competition."

The 200-mph-plus cars and their drivers will be provided by Champion Auto Racing Teams Inc.

The CART regular season ends two weeks before the Hawaii event.

Also present to lend support yesterday were Kazu Hayashida, director of the state Department of Transportation, other state officials, elected representatives and members of the City Council.

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