Get­ting back­sides track­side

Australian Muscle Car - - News -

What makes a good race­track? Not from a driver’s point of view but from a spec­ta­tor’s? It’s a ques­tion worth con­tem­plat­ing since the an­nounce­ment that the fi­nal race of the Su­per­cars sea­son will be held on the streets of New­cas­tle’s his­toric East End, re­plac­ing the much unloved Syd­ney Olympic Park.

Judg­ing by so­cial me­dia, spec­ta­tor ex­pec­ta­tions for the New­cas­tle cir­cuit are not very high. Many have clearly been scarred by Olympic Park, which was a gen­er­ally poor spec­tat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for any­one not in cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­ity or a paid seat, and not even very good for those who were.

Held just be­fore Christ­mas, the race around the con­crete and bi­tu­men Home­bush desert was al­most en­tirely shade free and, usu­ally, hot­ter than the sur­face of the sun.

Worse, Su­per­cars seemed to have gone to some trou­ble to pre­vent spec­ta­tor view­ing at the very few pass­ing spots the track of­fered. With no nat­u­rally el­e­vated van­tage points, gen­eral ad­mis­sion pun­ters were re­duced to press­ing their faces to the wire as cars flashed by. That might have been OK but for the large ad­ver­tis­ing hoard­ings that of­ten blocked their view.

Af­ter the first two years word had spread that Home­bush was a dud and at­ten­dances sank like a stone. That the NSW gov­ern­ment agreed to sup­port the event for sev­eral more sea­sons with­out fix­ing the fun­da­men­tal prob­lems was in­ex­pli­ca­ble – the very def­i­ni­tion of hope tri­umph­ing over ex­pe­ri­ence.

Those of us with slightly longer mem­o­ries were per­plexed that Su­per­cars seemed have learnt noth­ing from the de­ba­cle that was the Can­berra street race of 2000-02.

In that case it wasn’t con­crete heat sink that con­fronted fans, but bit­ing cold. Now nor­mally, hard­ened mo­tor racing fans are happy to rug up, pro­vid­ing the view is worth the po­ten­tial frost­bite. Guest colum­nist Mark Mathot pon­ders where pay­ing spec­ta­tors sit on Su­per­cars’ pri­or­i­ties list and whether mo­tor racing’s power­bro­kers have any clue how to cater for those want­ing to take in the ac­tion track­side. Against all odds, win­try Win­ton pulls a crowd in ex­cel­lent Blanc­pain GT Se­ries in Europe. Its May and I have been snowed upon at Bathurst races mostly run in front of empty spec­ta­tor in Oc­to­ber. But on the streets of Can­berra there stands and de­spite the qual­ity of cars and driv­ers was al­most noth­ing for the gen­eral ad­mis­sion the events are pa­tently lack­ing some­thing – not race-goer to see. In the ab­sence of freely sim­ply at­mos­phere but that vis­ual sig­nal that tells avail­able van­tage points it was only thanks to your sub-con­scious this race is im­por­tant. race commentary that the av­er­age at­tendee had Ma­jor sport­ing events need a ma­jor crowd and any idea at all what was hap­pen­ing. the NSW Gov­ern­ment will not be pleased if the

You’ll no­tice that I have been fo­cussing on the New­cas­tle 500 doesn’t at­tract one. “freely avail­able” view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Per­haps While the New­cas­tle lay­out ap­pears to have the key dif­fer­ence be­tween good and bad mo­tor much to rec­om­mend it – tricky el­e­va­tion changes, racing venues is the way they treat their most spec­tac­u­lar beach and har­bour back­drops and mod­est at­ten­dees. More­over, there is ev­i­dence of the sound of race­cars bounc­ing off his­toric a cor­re­la­tion be­tween the sat­is­fac­tion of gen­eral build­ings – it ap­pears good van­tage points might ad­mis­sion spec­ta­tors and the long term suc­cess be at a pre­mium. of mo­tor­sport events. One mod­est ho­tel, which for­tu­itously finds

At this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour I was re­minded it­self with a great view of the planned track, is that, amongst its many de­lights, Mount Panorama al­ready sell­ing twin per­son rooms dur­ing race af­fords price­less view­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for the week for al­most $1000 a night. cheap­est ticket. Dur­ing Satur­day af­ter­noon Of course, it doesn’t have to be like that. While qual­i­fy­ing I stood with my slightly dumb­struck it will take some imag­i­na­tion and de­ter­mi­na­tion, teenage son at the en­trance the Chase – it should be pos­si­ble to en­sure that an $80 Aus­tralian mo­tor racing’s fastest cor­ner – as we race day punter gets a good view of the race. watched in­ter­na­tional sports car stars test­ing their If done right, the New­cas­tle 500 can be­come a lim­its. It was a pre­mium mo­ment and it cost not a sus­tain­able event rather than a star­burst. sin­gle ex­tra cent. The lack of con­sid­er­a­tion given to pro­vid­ing

Con­trast this with Su­per­cars’ ap­proach. spec­ta­tors with a view of the ac­tual racing has Ac­cord­ing to one in­sider: “in the first year or me won­der­ing if those run­ning mo­tor­sport in two of a new event we put tick­eted grand­stands this coun­try (and that in­cludes the ac­tual cir­cuit ev­ery­where we can and then over the fol­low­ing de­sign­ers) ever spent time spec­tat­ing at a mo­tor years we have less and less of them. I don’t know racing meet­ing? why, that just seems to be the way it goes.” I’m pretty sure I know the an­swer to that. The

I think I know why. Su­per­cars sim­ply charges view from cor­po­rate suites doesn’t count. too much for grand­stand seats and fans can’t see Su­per­cars has shown they can do it. Ade­laide the value when they can’t see much of the track. and Townsville clearly ap­peal to many fans. But Ticket sales fall and, year by year, the un­sellable Syd­ney Olympic Park, Hamil­ton and Can­berra stands are qui­etly deleted from the venue map. were sig­nif­i­cant fail­ures and the sport should

It could be ar­gued that in this era of blan­ket re­flect care­fully as to why. tele­vi­sion cov­er­age and in­ter­net stream­ing of One of Aus­tralian mo­tor racing’s most mo­tor­sport, the ac­tual num­ber of fans that turn sea­soned ob­servers once said to me that “you up at the race track is far less im­por­tant than it only have one rep­u­ta­tion to lose.” The New­cas­tle used to be. This ap­pears to be the spin some in 500 has only one, per­haps two years to get it NASCAR are putting on its de­clin­ing at­ten­dances. right. Af­ter that the dam­age may be ir­repara­ble.

But it’s a slip­pery slope. Look at the other­wise Mark Mathot has been in­volved with cars and mo­tor racing for al­most two decades as a jour­nal­ist, film­maker, PR flack and oc­ca­sional mar­ket­ing hack. He goes by the han­dle @mar­qued­man_oz on Twit­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.