Oklahoma City and the Principality of Monaco now have yet another thing in common besides a fondness for French Fries.
Now we both host a Grand Prix.
Mark McAuliffe, the CEO of OKC Motorsports just signed an exclusive agreement with American Le Mans, our nations version of the organization behind worlds oldest sports car race, the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The goal is to bring a televised three-and-a-half hour car race to the streets of our city, and with it, hopefully an international media spotlight on our city.
“American Le Mans just signed a three-year agreement with ABC and ESPN. So we believe it will be a televised event” said McAuliffe.
Traditionally Le Mans races are based around teams and low riding, closed-wheel race cars with high performance engines. The entrants drive both cutting-edge prototypes, and production models from companies like BMW and Bentley.
“Right now, the plan is the Grand Prix will take place in the adventure district,” said Larry McAlister, spokesman for OKC Motorsports.
McAlister said the proposed track will go through Remington Park, then down Grand Boulevard and through a golf course, but they haven’t released the location of the official track yet.
The event is scheduled for May 19, 2013, the day after Armed Forces Day, which will be celebrated in the festivities, said McAuliffe.
If successful, it will be a yearly event.
“We have to make a three year investment and a commitment to see how well it works in this market. Right now we need to prove to Le Mans that we have the community support, a proper road course that meets their requirements, and the financial wherewithal to host and produce the race,” said McAuliffe.
“We are pretty optimistic it will work out, as we have a lot of motor sports fans in Oklahoma,” he said.
“This will give the people of Oklahoma another option for a world class sporting event. There are no major racing events in town so there’s a whole bunch of racing fans with nothing at home they can go watch,” said McAlister.
According to OKC Motorsports, an Oklahoma City Grand Prix has received unanimous support from the Oklahoma Senate, House of Representatives, County Commissioners and Mayor Mick Cornett.
The costs of bringing a Grand Prix to Oklahoma City streets will require improvements made to the roads and support from corporate sponsors and private investors. Who will pay for the road improvements is yet to be decided.
“When the Texas Motor Speedway was built and it cost 500 million dollars. We use existing roads, so it makes economic sense,” said McAuliffe.