Supercars eyeing Big Bash style Sydney night race

Tom Howard

Friday 2nd June, 2017 - 10:13am

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Triple Eight’s Shane van Gisbergen drove a Supercars drift car under lights at Sydney Motorsport Park last year

Supercars is investigating the possibility of hosting a quick-fire ‘Big Bash’ style night race event at Sydney Motorsport Park next year.

The category is investigating the possibility of putting on a new type of event held on the 2.8km layout of the Western Sydney venue in a bid to attract new audiences.

Confirmed on the series’ official website, the event could feature a combined main game and Dunlop Super2 grid racing under lights in a quick-fire race format at a midweek meeting.

The event, which aims to mimic the success of cricket’s fan-friendly Twenty20 Big Bash League, may even be a non-championship round.

Supercars last hosted a night race in the country in 1997 after plans to hold a floodlit meeting at Darwin this year were abandoned.

Garry Rogers Motorsport driver Garth Tander believes an event of this nature is the direction the sport needs to take to entice casual fans.

The 2007 Supercars champion would be an advocate of a format that comprises two 20 minute sprint races followed by a pit-stop race.

“You have to look at where sport is heading at the moment and using Big Bash as an example and the beauty of that its very quick,” Tander told Speedcafe.com.

“The days of expecting fans to come to the race track 10 hours a day and three days in a row are getting close to running out especially the casual fans.

“The dedicated hardcore fans love it and will continue to come all three days to an event but for us to attract new families and new fans is a good idea.

“I think we could go back to 20 minute races and then have an hour race so we are still keeping the pit stop element involved in it.

“The old 20 minute format on the super-soft tyre or an even softer tyre would be good.

“We don’t want to make it too technical with big convoluted strategies especially for the casual observer.

“We just want to have a race move onto the next race and then have maybe have pit stop race to showcase the sport in its entirety.

“I think we need to be doing night races. From a television point of view its important and for an attendance point of view.”

Supercars CEO James Warburton says the concept is an ideal way for the championship to explore new formats.

“What we want to do is create something unique,” Warburton told the official Supercars website.

“We’re currently costing up the lighting we’d need and the next piece to that will be the format and how it works.

“You’ve got to continue to innovate in your sport and you’ve got to push the boundaries and find new levels of interest.

“It’s hard to get a crowd at Sydney Motorsport Park. It’s always been difficult because of the location.

“It might be a made-for-TV event that we’d run mid-week, on say the Wednesday and Thursday nights, or be based around fan activation at the event.

“It could be non-championship which allows a lot more freedom in terms of the format, including opening it up the Super2 teams as well.

“At the moment there’s a few pieces in the puzzle that need to come together to get to where we need to be to make it a reality.

“At this stage it’s all conceptual. It is a work in progress which we hope to bring to life in 2018.”

The emergence of Supercars’ latest concept arrives as the series continues to work on its 2018 calendar, which will include a championship rounds at the Australian Grand Prix and The Bend Motorsport Park, and a possible meeting in Asia.