Can future of Aussie GP be secured?

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The current contract on Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park runs through the 2015 season, but talks toward making the event a long-term stop on the F1 calendar may be getting underway soon.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun reports that Denis Napthine, the new premier of the state of Victoria, is ready to speak with Formula One officials about a new deal for the race. According to his spokesman, Napthine will meet with said officials during the lead-up to the Grand Prix.

This comes on the heels of Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone telling the Herald Sun late last month that he wanted to keep Melbourne on the schedule for another 50 years.

“We get proposals from other parts, but we’re happy in Melbourne,” he told the Herald Sun’s Peter Rolfe in a Feb. 27 article. “Everybody loves Australia and loves Australian people, and it’s good to be there…and Melbourne, in itself, is a nice place.”

The race is a well-regarded part of the calendar, but a very costly one as well; the price tag for last year’s Aussie GP broke the $50 million mark. With that said, the race has certainly raised Melbourne’s global stature — and at least some believe that it has been worth the cost.

“You can, of course, argue that $57 million last year and likely rising again this year is not the best use of public money. But the greater argument is that it is an important and cost-effective investment in maintaining Melbourne’s international brand,” wrote Mark Fogarty of Melbourne’s The Age on Feb. 24.

“Forget claims of direct economic benefits derived from spending by visitors. What the Grand Prix at Albert Park does is promote Melbourne to the world, further reinforcing its visibility and status as a sporting and cultural [center].”

Takuma Sato’s likeness revealed on Borg-Warner Trophy (PHOTOS)

Photos; Walt Kuhn
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INDIANAPOLIS – Rather than the traditional December unveil, this year’s reveal newest likeness added to the Borg-Warner Trophy came Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Takuma Sato got to see the result of the sculpting done by William Behrends and then turned from wax, clay and ceramic into sterling silver on Tuesday evening, as the winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil saw his face revealed on the trophy.

Sato took the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport to the win in thrilling fashion this year over Helio Castroneves, denying the Brazilian his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in the process. It atoned for his near-miss in 2012, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the team he’ll return to in 2018.

It’s been a whirlwind last week-plus for Sato, doing the podium interviews at the Japanese Grand Prix, reflecting on his Indianapolis 500 triumph, then sharing the victory spoils with another Japanese pilot in Yoshihide Muroya, who won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Indianapolis this weekend.

Photos of Sato’s face on the most unique trophy in sports are below. This post will be updated following tonight’s full unveil. (All photos: Walt Kuhn)