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The difficult birth of the Gold Coast Indy

The traditional Gold Coast motorsport festival, which hits the popular tourist spot every October has gone through many transitions, but almost didn’t happen.

Back when the event began it occurred on March and was on a longer circuit compared to this year’s layout first used in 2010, but the Gold Coast Trophy Dash proved a difficult event to initially plan due to a number of factors.

It was to be the first CART race to be held outside of North America, but this proved a political problem as FISA was threatened by the US-based open-wheel series and its expansion.

As a result, CAMS refused to sanction the event, organised by businessman and ex-racer Ron Dickson.

Featuring Government backing, the event was in the middle of a tug of war between the motorsport governing bodies.

“In 1988-89 I did the deal with Champ Car to bring a round to Surfers Paradise,” said Dickson.

“It was always going to happen and CAMS tried to stop it. Formula 1 didn’t want it to happen, but It all went ahead; it was very successful.”

Dickson had recently retired from racing, which had taken him to Europe in 1986 as part of the Tom Walkinshaw Racing offshoot South Pacific Racing and was inspired by other motorsport events run in Australia to launch a race on the Gold Coast.

“I didn’t want to drive anymore because there were too many problems in terms of business, insurance and legal,” he explained.

“I still loved motor sport and I had looked at what was running globally, we as Australian’s could do it better. When I went and saw the IndyCars, I thought wow, but it didn’t do things like the FIA did.

“I reckon we could do better, so that’s why we decided to have a go at it. The Americans believed in us and away we weren’t, they were over the moon.

“They said ‘best event outside of the Indianapolis 500’!”

John Andretti won the first event in 1991 and has since kicked off an annual event, which moved to later in the season.

Next, when the V8 touring cars hit the track.