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JANUARY 27, 1997

The latest on Las Vegas

TOMMY BAKER, the man who is trying to organize a Grand Prix in Las Vegas was in London last week to see F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, just days after a meeting with Steve Wynn of Mirage Resorts, the most powerful casino owner in Las Vegas.

Baker says everything is still on schedule for the race despite reports of opposition to the idea of a race from the Hilton Hotels Corporation, which recently became the largest casino operator in the city. Baker says that the top management of Hilton is behind the idea and recently hosted a small race outside its casino in Reno, Nevada.

The design of the track continues to change but Baker says he is sure that the race will happen "on The Strip in front of the new Bellagio resort". This is Wynn's new $1.3 billion flagship casino, aimed at high-roller gamblers, which is due to open in mid-1998.

Baker says that both Wynn and Ecclestone insist that the race be held on The Strip, although it may be that the eastern lanes of the famous highway - which bring most of the traffic to the casinos, from California and from McCarran Airport, will remain open, while the southbound section will become the race track. The provisional track layout is three miles in length and involves a half a mile straight and Baker says that there will not be "wiggles through car parks".

Baker refuses to say when the race will be held but it seems that the city wants the season finale, probably in mid-October 1998.