Motor racing will return to the city in 2022 when Newcastle hosts the opening round of the Repco Supercars Championship series.
With COVID forcing the Newcastle 500, previously the final race in the championship, into hiatus for 2020 and 2021, it will be back with a vengeance in 2022, this time kicking off the championship series.
While no dates have been finalised as yet, the event is expected to take place in early March 2022.
Given the new timing, no road closures will take place before February 2022 and speaking to Newcastle Live, City of Newcastle (CoN) CEO Jeremy Bath said there would also be a shortened ‘bump-in, bump-out’ period.
“One of the conditions that I made very clear to Supercars was that any change in race timing had to come with an abbreviated bump-in period,” he said.
“The business community, particularly in the East End have said they need a shorter bump-in and bump-out and that has been communicated to Supercars. They have agreed in writing that there can be no bump in before the start of February.
“That’s a great win for the community, it’s a great win for the East end and it’s a great win for anybody who wishes to use our city and our parks during the summer holidays in January.”
It’s highly likely a big win for music fans as well with Mr Bath adding that a Novocastrians could expect a high-profile gig befitting an event of such stature.
“In my discussions with Supercars I made it clear that it needed to be what we agreed on would be a ‘tier one’ concert event,” he said.
“It needs to be a big affair and I didn’t need to twist Supercars’ arm on that. And that’s what comes with launching a season – you get that extra investment from the Supercars organisation because every sporting competition wants to launch their season with as much fanfare and excitement as possible.
“The best way to do that is having a big-name musical act tied to the event.”
With the five-year agreement to host the event wrapping up next year, Mr Bath added that a decision would be made after the 2022 event about continuing the agreement.
“The decision on whether to review the Supercars agreement for five years is one that involves the three parties – Supercars, Destination NSW and CoN,” he said.
“That decision will occur in the months after the March season opener. We will [then] have quality data for not just three Supercars races that occurred in late November/Early Dec but also for March 2022.
“It’s early days and we’re not turning our attention just yet to if we believe there are sufficient benefits to the city to seek a five-year extension. But it won’t just be a decision based on commercial enrichment. It needs to be about the impact on business in the city.”
As part of the agreement, Mr Bath added that Supercars had agreed to provide a locally-based community engagement manager for the 2022 event.