Supercars not ruling out Sandown 500 in 2025
Tuesday 14th November, 2023 - 2:00pm
Supercars CEO Shane Howard is not ruling out the prospect of the Sandown 500 being held in 2025 despite a deal for an enduro at The Bend.
Sandown has hosted car racing and horse racing since the 1960s but is not long for this world due to the value of its suburban land for residential redevelopment.
Recent intelligence had suggested that it will close to motorsport in 2025, which would spell the end of the Sandown 500, the traditional lead-in to the Bathurst 1000.
However, questions have now been raised as to whether the heritage Melbourne circuit might meet its demise even earlier, given Supercars’ announcement that The Bend will play host to an enduro in the year after next.
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Furthermore, Speedcafe understands that The Bend’s new deal stipulates its event will be held outside the winter months, pointing to the likelihood of being scheduled in September, where the Sandown 500 currently falls.
Howard told this week’s Speedcafe Newscast, “We’ve committed to an endurance event [at The Bend].
“We’ll just work through how that pans out for 2025 in regard to how many endurance events that we undertake.
“We have definitely committed to the South Australian Government and The Bend to have an endurance race at The Bend for 2024.”
Pressed by host Mark Fogarty on what that means for the future of Sandown beyond 2024, he replied, “I can’t advise you on in that.
“We’ve been told a couple of times now that Sandown is going to be redeveloped and things.
“So, we’ll see where Sandown’s at once we get into further discussions with them later in the year.”
‘Them’ is the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC), which owns not only Sandown Racecourse/Sandown International Motor Raceway but also Caulfield Racecourse and Mornington Racecourse.
MRC’s rationale for selling off Sandown is two-fold, specifically that it is said to run at a $5 million annual loss and because the proceeds would help pay for upgrades at Caulfield.
It decided last year to proceed with a rezoning application despite the then-recent election of three overtly pro-Sandown board members because restarting the process at a later time would result in the imposition of a hefty new state tax, costing around $100 million.
However, MRC CEO Josh Blanksby told Racing.com in March 2022 that the rezoning application “doesn’t mean the site will definitely be developed.”
There could thus be three enduro events in 2025, with The Bend something of an ‘insurance policy’ against the loss of Sandown in the short-term.
Nevertheless, Howard believes it is a fitting venue for a long-distance Supercars race.
“Going forward, we’ve made a commitment to South Australia to hold an endurance round in South Australia at The Bend in 2025,” he explained.
“The South Australian Government we’ve got right behind motorsport; the Premier, Peter Malinauskas, has done an incredible job of supporting motorsport, which we welcome; and we’re all looking forward to getting to the last round [Vailo Adelaide 500, in the state’s capital] in a couple of weeks.
“And, Sam Shahin has put in an incredible investment – private investment – into that facility and grassroots motorsports, so I think we’re keen to support that and we’d like to give them the opportunity of hosting an endurance race.
“We think the venue is very, very good – very high standard – it’s a great piece of infrastructure.
“It’s got a fantastic pit lane, which is good for endurance racing, and getting that event in a better weather pattern is important as well, which we’ve had discussions with Sam in regard to that.”
The Bend was in fact to have hosted the 500km enduro in 2020 before the disruption caused by COVID restrictions upended the calendar and saw the Bathurst 1000 become the only multi-driver event, for three years.
The 2024 Sandown 500 will be the 60th anniversary of endurance racing for saloon cars at the southeast Melbourne circuit, with the event to take place on September 20-22.