The Adelaide Race of a Thousand Years

Event Wrap-up

Greg Sarni Photo

Don Panoz's ambitious vision for top-level sports car racing has paid off down under. By all reports it was the third most successful sports car race ever staged, with attendance reported at 130,000 over the three-day event. The only events with better figures are two of the sports most heralded venues, Le Mans and Sebring. Neither of those events however can match the overall spectacle of the combined racing and concert. Staged on New Year's Eve of the "Real Millennium", The Race of a Thousand Years will indeed go down in history as the Party of a Thousand Years.

Augmenting the on track action was an after race concert. The concert, set on two stages, featured some of Australia's best bands. INXS with guest vocalist Jon Stevens, was brilliant. Add to the mix three separate fireworks displays and this was Monaco, Long Beach and Mardi Gras all at once. Race organizers in the United States should take a long hard look at Adelaide's success and follow their example. The way to build a stronger audience for the sport is to present an exciting lifestyle destination with racing the key theme.
Appealing to two divergent interest groups, music and motorsports fans strengthens the crowd figures because it draws from a wider cross section of individuals who may not consider attending one or the other. Combine the two and the audience is doubled and people who came for the concerts may just discover a new passion.

None of this is accomplished easily, erecting a temporary road course in a major city is an enormous undertaking based on cooperation from many different groups. Civic, state, race and series organizers must work in unison for the event to even take place. Proper public relations, securing event sponsorship and diligent promotion are all important factors in ensuring that not only will the race take place, that it will do so in front of spectators. In Australia Panoz had a key ally in Joan Hall, Minister of Tourism in South Australia. Media relations and hospitality were all first rate and this will pay dividends down the line because race fans will find out what a fantastic event has transpired.

The only racing venue in America that approaches what Adelaide offers is Long Beach. It is not by mistake that another visionary, Chris Pook, also spearheads the Grand Prix through the streets in Southern California. Commitment hard work and dedication is what gets it done. Like Panoz said when asked about his latest sports car project, The Adelaide Roadster, "anybody that knows me knows that I'm a doer and not a talker." The reality is that, racing is racing, whether it is at Lime Rock or Las Vegas. Isn't it better for the sponsors, who want to be seen by the largest number of consumers as possible and the future of the sport in general, to have fans in the stands?
If sports car racing in the states is to ever flourish, politics and division in the sport have to be abolished. Traditional methods of promotion and presentation should be reexamined and removed. The Race of a Thousand Years and Don Panoz has raised the bar. Now the spotlight is on Daytona, Lime Rock and Watkins Glen to see if they are willing to make changes or are they going to continue to operate in the twentieth century mode? Racing is all about cutting edge technology, so should be the event and series management.

Greg Sarni Photo

So as the barriers on the streets of Adelaide are being removed this New Year's day, plans are being finalized for next years Asia Pacific Le Mans Series race in Adelaide December 2, 2001. American race organizers civic leaders, tourism bureaus and fans of the sport should plan today to come to Australia to see just how good sports car racing can be. There is no logical reason that foreign countries should have a monopoly on well attended successfully run races in the sport's most varied series.

Go to Sunday Race final results

Go to Saturday qualifying results and photos

Go to Friday Images from the pre-race activities

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