From motorcycles and touring cars to Porsches and Formula Three racers, they will move like a blur through the streets of Macau at speeds that often exceed 300km/h. But no matter how fast these street racers go, they won't be moving as quickly as Macau itself, where the rapid pace of modernisation is breathtaking. The 53rd Macau Grand Prix has arrived at a seminal moment with the new Macau ready to be unveiled. With the completion of the dazzling Wynn resort and casino, as well as the nearby Sands casino two years earlier, the Las Vegas style transformation of the main strip of the Macau Grand Prix, Avenida de Amizade, is now complete. The transformation of the rest of Macau is not far behind. The Cotai Strip beckons as the massive Venetian complex is set to open in the third quarter of 2007 and Melco PBL Entertainment's City of Dreams, which features an underwater-themed casino, in the second half of 2008. Because of the massive landfill between Coloane and Taipa, three islands have now become two. And while the burgeoning neon glitter of the Cotai Strip area does not shine directly on the famed Circuito da Guia racing route, its impact on the future of the race could be enormous. Because of the developments on Cotai, over the next two years Macau will be going from having no retail malls to about five million square feet of announced mall space. It will be going from 10,000 hotel rooms to 28,000 submitted for approval and an eventual total of 60,000, which would be more than the city of San Francisco. Already, some in this former Portuguese enclave are quietly starting to wonder if a rip-roaring, 24-hour casino town can afford to close down its main vehicular route for a full week to accommodate a race that, while the principal source of tourism in the past, will soon be playing a distant second fiddle to all the new resorts and casinos. When the Macau Grand Prix began in the spring of 1954, a group of gentlemen racers, led by Fernando de Macedo Pinto, Carlos da Silva and Paulo Antas decided to run a motoring event around the dusty back roads of this fishing and gambling outpost. It remained an amateur affair until professionals began to show up in 1966 and in 1983 it was upgraded to a Formula Three race, won by legendary Brazilian racer Aryton Senna. Despite the increasing stakes, over the years the race managed to maintain the charm, quaintness and community spirit that have long come to define Macau. While Macau became the breeding ground of future Formula One champions such as Senna, Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill and Mika Hakkinen, it also became renowned as one of the most demanding tests of skill in motor racing and motorcycling. 'I would even say [Macau] was better than Monaco, because while Monaco is good, it is not all there,' said Jenson Button, who raced at Macau in 1999 and is driving for the Honda Racing Formula One team. 'Macau has got everything, with those long straights which would be absolutely awesome in a Formula One car.' These days, Macau truly does have everything, including a number of state-of-the-art sporting facilities that put most major urban centres in Asia to shame. Where this festival of motorsports fits into the new Macau is a looming question. It is not an accident the famed circuit has remained basically untouched, despite the wild orgy of construction throughout Macau. Except for the introduction of curbing aimed at funnelling cars into the notorious Lisboa bend, this is basically the same circuit that launched Senna's memorable career 23 years ago. The fact it remains virtually unchanged speaks volumes about the work the Macau Grand Prix Committee has done with various government departments to ensure that new infrastructure and construction plans do not adversely affect the layout of the circuit. Still, looking around the new Macau, one can't help get the feeling the circuit and the race could soon be an anachronism. The signs are everywhere. Most mainland China tourists, the bread and butter of the new Macau, have no interest in motor racing, only gambling. If this was Hong Kong, where sacrilege is the norm, the race and its circuit would have been gone long ago and in its place another hole would have been kicked in the sky, one more monument to colossal greed. But this is clearly not Hong Kong. Whether it is due to the fact the Portuguese influence is still very much alive in Macau or because the locals truly have a communal spirit, Macau still clings to and honours its past despite the onslaught of modernisation. Names like Senna, Schumacher and Villeneuve are every bit a part of that past. Change is natural and inevitable in Macau. But we can only hope that some things around here won't bend to the future.