Bahrain's Circuit Boss Does A Pitwalk
How often does the man responsible for the running of an international
circuit make his way along the line of cars lined up for scrutineering
chatting to drivers, mechanics, families and friends.
however, is exactly how the Director of the Bahrain International
Circuit, Sheihk Fawwaz, spent a sizeable chunk of his Tuesday afternoon,
admiring the cars and talking at length to many of those who have
travelled thousands of miles to visit his facility.
As he stood on the pit
wall to survey the scene I asked him whether he was impressed with
"There are some
wonderful cars and teams here, I think we are in for a very special
The GT Festival though
is part of a much wider and more significant future:
is really part of our plans to educate the Bahraini public about
GT racing," elaborated the Sheikh. "They don't need to
be told that the cars are fantastic, the appeal of these cars is
that they are the sort of vehicle that everyone can relate to as
something that they would love to own, but we do need to introduce
them to the differences of racing this sort of car. This week is
really an exhibition event. I hope that next year we can host an
FIA GT Championship round here."
With ticket prices at
rock-bottom prices and event promotion at unprecedented (for European
GT racing) levels was he expecting a sizeable crowd?
"I hope so but again
we are trying to draw more people to this area of the sport. We
have a facility that can show off these cars very well and we have
time to achieve our goals."
Was he aware
of the comparisons being drawn between his new venue and some of
the more traditional F1 circuits?
"Of course, but
my concern is doing the best that we can. We are very proud of what
has been achieved here, the facility was built in just 15 months
with 2000 workers and was finished early, whereas other new facilities
(Shanghai) used far more manpower and were completed late. I believe
we have a wonderful advertisement for Bahrain here and I am working
hard now to bring more events to us."
The efforts of his team
extend beyond the attention to detail in the preparation of the
track and the self-evident event promotion, The Sheikh is deadly
serious about building the audience, and no project that will help
to achieve that goal is considered too small:
example, the track cleaning machine which we have just bought from
Germany is due to be repainted and we have asked our local schoolchildren
to suggest how we should paint it."
This is a venue, and
a management attitude that should delight motorsport lovers and
send chills through those who seek to compete.
If only it were a few
hours closer to home!!