Newcastle 500 track build begins

The 2019 Newcastle 500

The 2019 Newcastle 500

The build of the circuit which will host the first Thrifty Newcastle 500 in more than three years is underway from today.

The Hunter Valley will play host to the opening event of the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship after most recently featuring on the calendar as the 2019 finale.

COVID-related restrictions saw to the cancellation of the 2020 edition and Newcastle never made it onto the calendar in 2021, before a postponement and ultimately cancellation again in 2022 following the Omicron outbreak.

The build of the Newcastle East Street Circuit which kicks off today will be overseen by Newcastle City Council and track constructors iEDM.

“It’s very exciting,” said Supercars Chief Executive Officer Shane Howard.

“Today really kicks off day one of the Thrifty Newcastle 500, with the event build starting to take place now.

“It’s going to be a big lead-up to what is hopefully the biggest Supercars event that we have seen in Newcastle.

“For the next six weeks you will see the Newcastle CBD precinct start to change, we’ve got over six kilometres of concrete barriers going in, it’s going to be an ever-changing landscape.

“After a three-year hiatus due to COVID, just to bring it back and make it bigger and better than ever is what we are looking forward to.

“We have almost sold out the corporate facilities, and grandstand tickets are getting very close to being sold out as well.

“I would advise everybody who wants to attend the event, to get their tickets now.”

Newcastle debuted on the calendar in 2017, with the circuit extended 12 metres to 2.641km ahead of the 2019 event by elongating the Turn 11 hairpin in front of the Hunter River in a bid to improve overtaking by creating a harder braking zone.

Newcastle 500

Newcastle’s Turn 11 hairpin

The tweak did not have the desired result then but drivers expressed optimism that, once coupled with a future reduction of downforce in the race cars, it would pay dividends.

As it happened, the small change to aerodynamics in 2020 did little to make following easier, nor did cars of that spec ever make it to the Newcastle track anyway.

Now, however, the Gen3 Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang will make their competitive debut in New South Wales’ second-largest city next month with a claimed 63 to 64 percent slashing of downforce relative to their predecessors.

Fate has had it that Newcastle is the season-opener following what has effectively been a direct swap with Adelaide, which closed out the 2022 season under a new, five-year deal.

A return to the Hunter Valley in 2024 is dependent on a new contract between Supercars, Destination NSW (representing the NSW Government) and City of Newcastle, the latter of which is set to survey residents, local business owners, and event attendees before a decision is made on a new deal.

Gen3 testing is set to continue today when the Blanchard Racing Team is first on-track with a race car, at Winton.

The Newcastle 500 takes place on March 10-12, with entertainment in the Foreshore Park featuring Icehouse, Jon Stevens, and The Screaming Jets on the Friday night; while Saturday night’s concert will be headlined by the Hilltop Hoods, supported by Thelma Plum, San Cisco, Newcastle’s Trophy Eyes, and Trials.

Before then, a Community Fun Day will be held at Civic Park on February 18, featuring several Supercars Championship drivers.

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