The Bend upgrades to create ‘festival atmosphere’

A bridge has been erected at The Bend Motorsport Park

Sam Shahin hopes to create a “festival atmosphere” on The Bend Motorsport Park infield courtesy of new upgrades to the circuit.

The installation of a bridge and the addition of concrete walls and catch fencing through the centre of the circuit will allow new spectator areas to open for this weekend’s OTR SuperSprint.

Spectators will have greater access to the middle of the circuit, with general admission viewing on the front straight and at Turn 13.

The bridge, which was last used at the Adelaide Street Circuit, was only installed on Wednesday and given final engineering approval yesterday.

Shahin said the circuit upgrades are all about improving the patron experience.

“Creating access to the infield and the ability to have spectators on the infield literally right across from pole position on the main straight is an experience you cannot get in any track certainly in Australia today,” Shahin told Speedcafe.com.

“So I’m very excited to be able to offer that to our wonderful patrons coming here this weekend.

“We put in approximately 2km of debris fencing and concrete barriers on the infield and for the first time have activated the infield.

“That was the purpose of the pedestrian overpass, to get people to the infield. For the first time, people will be able to line the circuit on the other side and watch racing.

“There’ll be entertainment, food, beverages, bars, and some [displays]. It’s a festival atmosphere on the infield to just give people a different taste of what they experienced last year.

“So we’re trying to walk our talk here and say well, we’d like to give the patrons a different experience this year and we’ll listen.

“If they engage, if they use it, great, we’ll try to improve it next year; if they don’t, well, we’ve made a mistake.”

The move comes as Shahin urged Supercars to be more innovative, even suggesting The Bend’s 7.7km GT layout as an option for future rounds.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic knocking spectator confidence, Shahin said this weekend’s Supercars event in Tailem Bend will be well attended.

“COVID has made a mess of all events, as everybody knows, over the last 18 months or so, and there is still that apprehension about people attending events,” Shahin explained.

“But the indications so far from ticket sales have been incredibly encouraging and yes, we are on track for possibly our largest event ever, which is quite incredible given the circumstances.

“The motorsport crowd is very unique; many decisions are left to the last minute and they all keep us guessing with a significant chunk of attendance being people that turn up on the day.

“It makes it quite challenging for any venue to cater in terms of food and toilets and traffic and all those sort of things, but I hope people turn up in droves.

“We’re ready. But certainly indications are that this will likely be our biggest year ever.”

Action at the OTR SuperSprint gets underway on Friday with practice and qualifying for support categories. Supercars will be on track Saturday and Sunday.

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