Motorsport Australia wants more permanent circuits04/20/2020
Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca says Australian motor racing is being ‘held back’ by a lack of permanent circuits around the country.
According to Arocca the governing body has long been concerned about a lack of permanent facilities in Australia, with existing venues usually booked out for months and certain regional populations having nowhere to race within a reasonable distance.
He says that the under-resourcing is obvious when compared to the UK, which has more circuits despite being geographically more compact.
Arocca also acknowledged how street circuits have helped shaped the current landscape, with the big Supercars events like Townsville and Newcastle great for breaking into new markets, but limited when it comes to boosting non-professional participation.
“We’ve wanted [more circuits] for the last seven years,” Arocca said on a recent episode of TCR Australia’s Parked Up podcast.
“We’ve worked hard to look at [new] tracks. Tailem Bend has our fingerprints all over it. There’s probably 15 developments at the moment that are on the drawing board in one form or other.
“Personally, I like the concept of street circuits because they bring people to the city. They bring people to a specific area where you can really showcase the sport.
“But the problem is that once you dismantle all that, people haven’t gone anywhere to race.
“Townsville for example, the Supercars event in Townsville is the biggest event in town for the year. But you dismantle all that, and people don’t have anywhere to race.
“When you consider how big our country is, we have less tracks than the UK. The UK, in a much smaller space, has 120-odd tracks. We’ve got between 90 and 100 at best, and there’s a lot of street circuits.
“And we’ve only got 10,000 less licensed competitors in our country than [the UK]. So the demand is there.
“Historically we’ve been told, many times by people, if we build tracks, we’ll have more people racing. It’s holding back our sport.
“We are a country in need of more tracks and we’re working on. But this [COVID-19] crisis is going to re-configure things in a big way.”
Expanding on that expected ‘re-configuration’ in the post-coronavirus future, Arocca warned that obtaining government funding for new venues is likely to be tougher than ever.
“The problem that we’ve got is that all this money is being sucked in to helping us get through the crisis,” he said.
“In the past I’ve often been told by governments ‘we haven’t got $40 million’ or ‘we have to wait a couple of years’. But this money that’s being plowed into keeping us going for the next six months is going to have a long-term effect on us being able to get more venues built.
“From my point of view, we have done nothing less than try our best to find more venues, more locations. This [pandemic] could highlight the need for it.
“But there’s got to be some money to make it happen, and that’s never easy.”
There are currently a number of development plans for new circuits around the country, including one in Pakenham, an hour south-east of Melbourne, and one a similar distance south of Perth.
There is also a significant re-development of the existing Wanneroo Raceway facility in Western Australia, which includes a brand new circuit, undergoing community consultation.
The most noteworthy new circuit to be opened in recent years is The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia, which was funded and built by the Shahin family.
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