Friends of Motorsport initiative launched ahead of Gold Coast 500
By Damion Smy
Thursday 27th October, 2022 - 12:22pm
Motorsport Australia and the Queensland Government have launched the Parliamentary Friends of Motorsport initiative ahead of this weekend’s Gold Coast 500 Supercars event.
The initiative is intended to encourage participation and foster the state’s motorsport industry and ‘smart job’ technical base, which includes Supercars teams Triple Eight Race Engineering, Dick Johnson Racing as well as Matt Stone Racing and the recently formed PremiAir Racing.
“It’s a massive industry … Everyone knows the tourism boost that the Gold Coast 500 and Townsville 500 and others bring, but it’s the direct and indirect jobs … the high level ‘smart’ jobs of the motorsport sector .. the level of engineering speciality [that motorsport brings],” said Bart Mellish, Member for Aspley, said at the announcement outside Parliament House in Brisbane.
“There’s a bit of a gap there where a lot of MPs don’t really realise just how big motorsports is from a social and economic and just a cultural perspective in Queensland, so I was really keen to bring it up in a bipartisan way just to softly educate MPs about the real benefits this brings,” Mellish told Speedcafe.com.
“You know, the facilities we’ve got in Queensland – you can always do better – but you know the real sort of jobs and industries that coalesce around those, I think there’s fantastic opportunities for the future.”
Also in attendance was Motorsport Australia Chief Executive Officer, Eugene Arocca, who said that motorsport contributed $8.6 billion annually to the Australian economy.
“Close to a billion dollars of that [contribution] was Queensland, and the only thing that’s stopping it from having more money generated is a lack of facilities in this state,” Arocca said. “We need more facilities, our members say, ‘You build it, we will race’. So we need more facilities.”
Triple Eight Race Engineering founder Roland Dane and Queensland racing icon Dick Johnson, who both attended the announcement, used the occasion to call for upgraded facilities to foster the motorsport community.
Despite the optimism, the Friends of Motorsport initiative launch did not come with any funding announcements or concrete strategies, despite the Queensland Government’s record surplus announced earlier in the week.
“It’s always hard whenever a treasurer talks about a surplus; it takes five minutes and everyone’s at the door with their funding bids,” said Mellish.
“I can’t make any announcements for the treasurer or anything like that – nothing on the immediate horizon in the short term – but that’s what this is about. That’s why we have to start these conversations with Motorsport Australia, with the teams.”
“A few years ago I was privileged enough check out the Triple Eight facility in Banyo, and you wouldn’t know in a quiet sleepy suburb there’s people here doing stuff at a higher level than NASA would do,” Mellish said.
“These people are having intake manifolds smoothed to within a micromillimetre or they’re making washers that are 10 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger to fit on the car, because that will give them a slight advantage. It’s incredible the technical and engineering jobs that our state is really trying to push towards.”
“For me it’s not really about politics; it’s more about what can we do in a bipartisan way to grow the industry, get some wins here and there that will help support going forward; ways governments can help around better facilities and better training and stuff like that.”