Rogers keen on summer fan push
Sunday 31st January, 2021 - 5:09pm
Barry Rogers is keen on moving more racing into summer in a bid to attract new fans following the success of Boost Mobile Race Tasmania.
The twin events at Symmons Plains and Baskerville Raceway, the latter of which finished today, essentially kicked off the motor racing year in Australia with the opening rounds of Supercheap Auto TCR Australia, the VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship and Gulf Western Oils Touring Car Masters.
Already, S5000 is in a transition phase with a short 2021 campaign before moving to a ‘summer calendar’ for a 2021/22 season beginning in September.
Rogers promoted Race Tasmania with father Garry and is a large shareholder in the Australian Racing Group, having already been a competitor in its biggest categories as director of Garry Rogers Motorsport (GRM).
He wants to see those other series from the ARG stable, such as TCR and TCM, support S5000’s move into the warmer months, although they would still run to calendar year seasons.
“Obviously the S5000 calendar, when we get into the new season [2021/22], will sort of be a September kick-off finishing around March, so that will be supported by some of the other ARG categories,” Rogers told Speedcafe.com.
“Whether they’re all at all of those events is unlikely, but some we’ll mix in with those events.
“If you asked whether TCR would go full summer, whether GTs would go full summer, or whether Trans Ams or TCM would go full summer, probably not, but you’d certainly utilise those categories to support the S5000s through that sort of summer campaign.
“I just think that is an opening. Motorsport needs to attract new fans; it’s been the same old fans that have followed the sport for the last 40 years.
“You go to the average motor race and the average age of the fan is probably Garry’s age [Barry’s father and founder of GRM], and that’s all great – they’re loyal, old supporters – but you need to attract the younger ones.
“If you can provide good, short, exciting categories, and put them in a time and place when younger ones are likely to get out, you can hopefully attract a new fan to motorsport.”
While Race Tasmania came out of the blue, the concept had strong state government support which even helped overcome two border dramas, and is being talked up as an annual proposition.
For Rogers, the clearer air outside of the AFL and NRL seasons is an obvious benefit of summer motorsport in general, and January is an ideal time to visit the Apple Isle.
“The government knew what our plan was with this and it wasn’t just a one-year deal, it was something that we’d like to think that we’re still doing it in 20 years’ time,” he explained.
“It’s amazing how quickly the years do go by but no, it wasn’t a one-off.
“We’re a firm believer that there is a place for motorsport during the summer in Australia, rather than just during the winter months, or the football season months.
“We’re pretty keen on pushing certainly part of our calendar into that so-called summer series.
“We really pushed that hard when we were in Supercars but we couldn’t get that to happen, but we feel that we’ve got an opportunity here to provide some motorsport entertainment in that time of the year.
“As much as you’ve still got cricket and tennis and golf and other things during summer, I get all that, I think the following of the football codes is a little bit more hardcore than those other sports, and I do see it as a chance to grab some new fans.
“Not only that, your weather conditions, if you pick your time and place where you race, like Tasmania in summer…
“There’s no better place in Australia than Tasmania in summer, it is fantastic, so I’d like to think that it’s one of many to come.”
Race Tasmania is not the only somewhat novel idea which Supercheap Auto TCR Australia and S5000 are part of this year.
Both will be in action when the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships programme kicks off for 2021 at Phillip Island, on February 19-21, with the Australian Superbike Championship also featuring as part of what has been dubbed the ‘Australian All Wheels Race Fest’.