BT 18 April 2006 – Big names vie to bring back motor racing
Singapore is going into the lifestyle business big time. As i am still digesting how the Integrated Resorts in Marina and Sentosa, Marina Public Golf Court, Singapore Eyes, New Museum and soon to be completed Vivo City affect Singapore and my life in the not too distant future, Singapore is off again courting another big name in the sport world…this time it is the F1 and A1 Grand Prix franchise. The founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew had said "NO" to car racing before. It seems nothing is sacred now, not even the words of MM Lee.
Between the two, F1 will require a $200 million race track and US$30 million to host/operate; A1 can use existing streets and come with a cheaper US$18 million H/O bill. A1 host needs to field a racing team and that could spark the development of a motor racing scene here. This latest development can dovetail with the National University of Singapore effort in the development of a motor racing business eco-system. NUS has a racing team that compete in inter-varsity racing in the US.
The following locations are reported as possible venue
Tuas near Raffles Marina
downtown along the Durian
around the Padang
Downtown, despite its convenience, will create severe noise pollution and traffic jam in other part of town. Not a good idea if the government really wanted to convert more old offices into residential usage in Shenton Way. Tuas, Changi or Pasir Ris will be ideal but these are ulu places. If it is Changi, the evaluation committee will need to conduct a proper traffic impact assessment if we want to avoid a Sepang situation here, where the route to the F1 circuit share the same road to an international airport. Hei, it is no fun if you have to start your journey to Changi airport two hours earlier on race day!
Despite its many strong points, A1 is relatively young and not as established as F1. However, F1 itself is a tough call, as having two F1 circuits at 400 km apart is too near and will spark intense competition for the precious spectators' dollars. This is one neighbourly competition we should avoid. Anyway, Singapore is short of land and building a $200 million race circuit just to burn tyre is difficult to justify. A1 is a good piece to fit into the "Team Singapore" sport theme. This is another "gold medal" prospect that Singapore can realistically aim for.
My pick, if Singapore is going to host a leg of the Grand Prix, it will be the A1. Venue? either Tuas or Marina South. If this industry takes off, Tuas can be our new automobile hub and Singaporeans can wish for a new ambition… that of a race car driver. So, don't be surprise that in future, go-karting maybe offered as a Junior College core curricular activity.