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Le Mans bid offers plenty

THE offer by US billionaire Don Panoz to bring one of his Le Mans Asia-Pacific races to Perth has far wider ramifications than the potential $87 million in tourism it could bring each year.

It could mean the creation of a much-needed driver training facility in WA that the car movement has been seeking for several years.

The Combined Car Clubs of WA, with around 80 member clubs, have lobbied in recent years for a race track and driving training facility to be built within the 9000 acre Whiteman Park.

Combined Car Clubs president Maurice Brockwell said: “It would be an ideal opportunity to combine what we have been seeking for the historic and classic car movement with what Don Panoz wanted.”

Mr Panoz was in town on Monday to talk to the business community and racing enthusiasts to gauge support for the event.

He was also hoping for a meeting with the Government but with the switch in power base that didn’t happen.

Acting Chief Executive of the Tourism Department Richard Wilson said the new Labor Government had said it was keen to keep events coming to WA.

“But the new Government has a lot on its mind at the moment ,including appointing a new cabinet and seeing what is in the coffers,” Mr Wilson said.

Mr Panoz made it quite clear that Wanneroo Raceway is not suitable for his proposed Le Mans racing festival, and that a street event is also out because of the costs of setting up and pulling down the track.

He says that there is a need to create a special facility similar to his Atlanta track, which is now used 320 days of the year for racing and driver training.

“We have two skid pans as well as other facilities for teaching defensive driving,” he said.

“It is very successful and could also be successful here.”

The Asia Pacific series would start in Perth around March and finish in Adelaide around November with the rest of the series run in Malaysia, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.

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