FEATURE BY MAX NOBLE
Please note that this article was Max's contribution for April 1st.
Chase Carey hosted an unscheduled joint news conference earlier today. Standing near a section of the restored Great Wall of China, not far from Jinshanling, just over 100 kms north east of Beijing.
Together with senior Liberty Media folk, including chief executive Greg Maffei and senior Chinese government representatives, plus the municipal heads of both Beijing and Jinshanling, Carey outlined his vision for a giant motor sport complex in China, and indeed the changing global face of motor sport now Liberty has finalised its global expansion plan.
In an audacious move Carey confirmed they are moving the entire Le Mans circuit to China and from 2021 onward the race will be held in the scenic rolling hills around this section of the Great Wall.
"Believe me this deal has been long in the making and I can only now believe we have made it happen," proclaimed Carey. "This has involved considerable discussion with multiple national governments, organisations, and both local and global partners. Without the unstinting support from the most visionary and remarkable local officials this would never have been possible."
Carey highlighted the fact that this is not a replica of Le Mans, it will be all the existing stands, infrastructure and road surface carefully removed from France and rebuilt precisely in China.
"After their considerable experience gained over the three gorges dam project, and dozens of green field city developments the Chinese are possibly the only nation that can pull off the terrain re-profiling and circuit building required to exactly realise Le Mans here, just as it currently is in France," he continued.
Answering a host of questions from the assembled media, Carey expanded on the concept.
"Yes, we are deconstructing and moving all existing infrastructure and the racing surface. This is not a model or a recreation," he insisted. "This will be the real and only legendary Le Mans circuit, transported piece by piece and rebuilt to perfection here in China."
He then expanded on the history of the project, saying that initially he wanted Indianapolis but could not close the deal. However this move is just the first in what will create the largest motor sport complex on earth.
When pushed Carey admitted that Liberty is already in discussions with Watkins Glen and Laguna Seca. Once one, or both, of those are secured he confirmed that Monza, complete with fully restored banking, is next on his list, followed, most likely by Silverstone as the British track appears to be no longer of interest to the Formula One World Championship.
Carey beamed as Liberty's chief executive Greg Maffei took the stand and gave details building on his comments from an appearance at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference last month.
"Within a decade this will be a motorsport paradise, featuring a number of the world's most iconic race tracks along with theme park and hotels, plus permanent concert venues.
"If we can get our ambitious first five years to run to plan and have at least three international circuits transferred here and the concert venue operational then we will look to get a super bowl set-up so we can alternate the super bowl between us and the United States," he revealed.
Maffei continued by confirming that he is in negotiations with Taylor Swift and U2 to each do a residency and believes a resort casino can follow within the decade.
With a sly smile he concluded that his complete vision included building two week experience packages for visitors that would start with a Formula E race, a Le Mans round in the middle weekend, and then end with the F1 race on one of the 'Liberty Masters World Circuits'.
His dream for the Casino and Formula E racing is to have a major section of the track run directly through the centre of the casino in order to get the fans truly engaged and as the cars fly past use mobiles devices and augmented reality to enable full real-time betting each lap, and even as over takes are in play.
Carey concluded by confirming that rule changes for the Le Mans Electric series, also planned for a 2021 start, would include the release of small underpowered electric town cars towing heavily weighted caravans to provide mobile chicanes to force drivers into dramatic and unexpected cornering and over taking, while giving those behind them a dramatic "heart in month" moment when the caravan looms large in front of them forcing evasive action.
He noted that the caravans were also another great advertising opportunity, given their large slab sides. As he walked off stage people think he also muttered something about the caravans giving Williams drivers a change to finally practice overtaking.
The municipal heads of Beijing and Jinshanling then made lengthy speeches about their delight at finally getting a Super Bowl experience in their own country and promised the local fan base a Chinese language timing app to ensure they did not miss a moment of all the amazing dimensions of the sport this has already gifted to English language viewers.
Carey declined to comment on the rumour that Justin Bieber and Lewis Hamilton would be the opening act for the new concert venue, or that Taylor Swift will contest the inaugural Formula E event.
Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here