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Excitement Grows for Hawaii Prix

February 26, 1999

HONOLULU (AP) _ The inaugural Hawaii Super Prix, featuring the 12 top finishers of CART’s FedEx Championship Series and a record $10 million purse, might pump $85 million into the state’s stagnant economy.

The purse for the Nov. 13 race will be the largest in racing history, with a record $5 million going to the winner, promoters said Thursday. Besides the top 12 drivers, another four will be invited.

``What we’re going to be bringing here are the most exciting, fastest race cars in the world. Nobody goes faster,″ said Andrew Craig, CART chairman and chief executive officer. ``These cars can run at speeds in excess of 240 miles per hour.″

The race will be televised on a pay-for-view basis to an estimated 300 million fans around the world.

``We’re a worldwide sport and the world’s attention will be focused on this event,″ Craig said.

State sports coordinator Russ Francis estimated the event will attract 20,000 to 30,000 visitors to the islands and rival the Pro Bowl in its economic benefit to Hawaii.

A 1.8-mile track will be laid out on a runway at the Barbers Point Naval Air Station, a base 30 miles west of Honolulu that is scheduled to be turned over to the state by the Navy on July 2.

Potential drivers include Alex Zanardi, Jimmy Vasser, Greg Moore, Scott Pruitt, Michael Andretti, Bryan Herta, Bobby Rahal and Al Unser Jr.

Bleachers to accommodate up to 100,000 spectators will be set up along two sides of the track configured in a long, narrow rectangle. CART race course experts were due to arrive Friday to make any modifications needed for the track, which will see race speeds in the range of 190 mph, said Richard Rutherford, co-founder of Hawaiian Super Prix.

Negotiations are underway with several potential corporate sponsors for the race, he said.

It will have a unique format with two 60-minute heats divided by an elaborate 60-minute halftime show. The accumulated points from the two heats determine the winner.

The second heat starting order will be the reverse of the finishing order in the first heat.

The race organizers said they have made a commitment to the state to stage the event every year for the next 10 years, although their contract with CART is only for three years.

``I know it’s going to come off just fine. We’ve done our homework,″ Rutherford said.

The race will come two weeks after CART’s regular season ends with the Marlboro 500 in Fontana, Calif.

The Hawaiian Super Prix is the first major circuit race in Hawaii, where fans now have to settle for quarter-mile dirt track and drag races.

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