Reaction to the Cancellation of Adelaide: Don Panoz
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26 FEB 2001
ASIA PACIFIC LE MANS SERIES UPDATE
STATEMENT: DON PANOZ
I would like to say that I really do like the city of Adelaide and the people here so much so that I brought my entire family of 26 there for 10 days over Xmas.
I would like to thank the media and the race fans who supported our racing and the terrific team we have in Adelaide for giving us a chance to bring international motorsport back to Adelaide in such a dynamic way.
I would also like to thank the hundreds of people who have supported us heavily, our key sponsors, business connections and those Government people who have joined us in a partnership to heavily promote Adelaide.
Contrary to what has been reported, this announcement caught us completely by surprise. While in Adelaide I had several productive meetings with the Premier and Minister of Tourism for South Australia. Before I left Adelaide I was presented with a draft contract that confirmed a Le Mans Series race would be held in Adelaide for the next four years. We had agreed to all of the terms. I shook hands on the deal because I was told by the Government's negotiation team that the terms were in line with Cabinet requirements.
My next contact with the Government was a conference call with the Minister for Tourism and Dean Rainsford on Friday 22nd February (Adelaide AM time). The Minister had called a meeting with our people the day before to explain her difficulties in obtaining a sign off on our agreement and was suggesting the investigation of combining the Le Mans series Race with the Clipsal 500.
This was my original concept and an idea we have fostered including re-iterating this offer with the Premier during a meeting on Friday 9th February. The Minister proposed holding the combined races in March and I explained that it would have to be at the end of the year in order to allow for the inclusion of European and American competitors. Our conversation lasted 55 minutes and we discussed the issues at length and looked at the options.
I feel sure that the Minister could not have been aware of the Government's decision to cancel the race because she did not mention anything about this during our long discussion.
I first heard of the cancellation of the race with a phone call from Dean Rainsford on Friday evening (Adelaide time) and we have been severely embarrassed with sponsors, the car companies, our Asian affiliates and their sponsors, entrants and race fans as we have not been given the opportunity to at least make our announcements at a similar time.
I have always said that our race would remain in Adelaide and would not leave the State for a better offer and for as long as the people of South Australia wanted it. It seems that the South Australian Government has made the judgement.
I really do love Adelaide and South Australia. However, some other state will now see some great motorsport and receive the benefits of our association.
I would like to thank the people of Adelaide for their support and hope they enjoyed the Race of a Thousand Years unfortunately they will have to leave South Australia to see the show this December.