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China fuels enthusiasm for auto racing events
( 2003-08-21 09:45) (China Daily)

Enthusiasm for motor racing in China was further fuelled here on Tuesday as two Chinese cities pledged to jointly promote the image of two high-profile Grand Prix races.

With 50 years of experience of hosting the Macao Grand Prix Races (MGPR), the special administrative region is willing to share its organizational experience and provide technical support and personnel training to assist Shanghai to host the 2004 Formula One Grand Prix, said Chui Sai On, secretary for Social and Cultural Affairs in Macao.

The hospitality was echoed by Shanghai's offer to get involved in exploring the customer market for MGPR in inland regions this year.

With accelerating private car ownership in China, auto racing is no longer considered a sport enjoyed only by westerners. It is gaining popularity on the Chinese mainland as the younger generations can afford their own cars.

There is another reason for the MGPR to have been given a special focus this year. Guangdong Province, Beijing and Shanghai were given the green light by the central government to pilot individual travel to Hong Kong and Macao beginning from this month, which is expected to substantially increase the source of spectators to the MGPR.

The deal between Shanghai and Macao is mutually beneficial. Yu Zhifei, deputy manager of the Shanghai Circuit, said the city is building a state-of-the-art racing circuit, which will boast the world's best auto racing facilities. However, what Shanghai lacks is the experience of hosting an international racing event. In this respect, Macao has a great advantage with 50 years of history of hosting the MGPR, which is almost as long as the history of the Formula One races.

Under the framework of the partnership, the two cities will not only work together in the organization and promotion of the racing events, but also create competition and training for racing drivers to get familiar with the racing events in Shanghai and Macao.

MGPR, known as a cradle of Formula One stars, is the pioneer of China's auto racing sports, which is still catching up with Western players. As the world's only automobile sporting event containing all of the Formula Three races, motor races and classic car races, MGPR will celebrate its 50th birthday in September.

"MGPR is not only a sporting event, but a tourist product to Macao," said Chui, adding the development of sports tourism is one of the tourist policies of the Macao Special Administrative Region government.

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