Change needed for teams champs
A gear change is needed to maximise the potential of the Superstock Teams Championships and what it brings to Palmerston North, its promoter says.
Bruce Robertson said about 15,000 spectators packed out the Robertson Holden International Speedway each night this weekend, many from out of town.
The surge of people coming into the CBD to watch the stockcars get inspected during the scrutineering in The Square each afternoon showed the benefit to businesses of attracting those crowds with events, he said.
But there was also a considerable opportunity going untapped.
‘‘There were hundreds of people wandering around not knowing what to do with them- selves for most of the weekend.
‘‘It’d be great to have some more things on for them to do, but we’ve got our hands full just organising the championships and the scrutineering.’’
Speedway hoped to talk with the Palmerston North City Council about setting up more events around the city next year, Robertson said.
The Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) was already looking at what else the region could do to make the most of the event.
CEDA Conventions marketing manager Phil Hildred said the teams champs was recognised as one of the largest, regular events on the regional calendar.
The agency aimed to have surveyed 20-30 per cent of attendees this weekend about their spending habits and who they were, in an effort to identify how to make the event better.
Traffic around The Square slowed to a crawl as people looked for parks.
Downtown on Broadway shopping centre manager Grey Key said the surge of people into the CBD was noticeable, even on top of the usual long-weekend crowds.
The 42nd Street Eatery food court was packed throughout the weekend, Key said.
‘‘It’s pretty new for us to actually draw in the extra crowds [during the teams champs], because we’ve been without a food court for [past three years].’’
McVerry Crawford Motors on Princess St played host to the Gisborne Giants each morning, before they joined the other teams in The Square for scrutineering.
Giants manager Scott Ross said the car yard offered a more relaxed venue so drivers could devote more attention to fans.
‘‘The Square can be pretty hectic, with everyone getting officially scrutineered and lots of moving vehicles.’’
Aaron Murdoch, a former stockcar racer himself, appreciated the chance to talk shop with the team.
‘‘It’s good to be able to bring the kids down [to met the Gisborne team].
‘‘They love having a look, and getting a few T-shirts signed.’’
The entire Murdoch clan, all 20 of them, including eight kids, visit Palmerston North from Waiheke Island every year for the event, he said.
‘‘[Team Champs] are pretty much our Christmas holiday.’’
Stratford Scrappers supporters make their presence felt.