Sunday, June 9, 2013

JB street race fans rejoice

The Petronas-AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championship event has always featured very exciting and action-packed racing. A street race will create even more excitement.

BY next year, the state capital here may see a revival of the famous Johor Grand Prix street race, marking the start of interesting motorsports events for the country.

The street race will be part of the popular Malaysian Cub Prix Championship and will be modelled after the famed Esplanade street race in Penang.

The New Sunday Times learnt that several potential locations in the city have been proposed for the street race. Among them are the Danga Bay stretch of Jalan Skudai, the Stulang Laut area and Larkin.

Another possibility is the city centre fronting Lido Beach, which was the original location for the Johor Grand Prix, which last saw action in the 1960s.

The original Johor Grand Prix was the brainchild of the then Tunku Mahkota of Johor Almarhum Sultan Sir Ismail Sultan Sir Ibrahim in 1940 as an effort to contribute to the war fund. In the 1950s and 1960s, the event sparked the interest of many budding car racers and motorcycle racers from the region.

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It is learnt that race promoter Safe Aim Mutual Sdn Bhd (SAM), which was instrumental in the revival of Penang's popular street race several years ago, is in discussions with the state government and the city council on the feasibility of reviving street races in the state.

SAM promotions director Ron Hogg said the planned street race in Johor Baru would revive the interest and promote competitive motorcycle racing in the state.

"It is no doubt a great time for Johor race fans, as a street race promises lots of excitement and has a different feel to it."

However, Hogg was quick to point out that his company was in the midst of discussions and was still looking for a reasonable location in Johor Baru.

"As organisers of the Malaysian Cub Prix Championship and the Asia Road Racing Championships, our priority will always be the road's suitability as a race track, the safety aspects and ample space for spectators."

The proposed Johor Baru street race would ideally need a road surface of between 1km to 1.4km and enough spectator area for up to 50,000 to 70,000 people a day.

The organisers are looking at a cost of more than RM1 million for the event, a figure based on the cost of the Penang street race.

Besides the state capital, it was learnt that SAM had also been offered to host a street race in Kluang as a possible alternative.

Hogg, who has close to 20 years experience in organising motorsports races, said that Johor Baru's scenic view of the Johor Straits, as well as its historical buildings would make it a unique setting for a street circuit.

He hoped that if the street race materialise, it would be a permanent part of the Malaysian Cub Prix Championship and would offer an exciting venue for Malaysian motorcycle race fans.

"As organisers and race promoters, we want a win-win situation for Johor as it not only promotes motorsports but also benefits tourism in the state," he said.

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