A stoush of epic proportions has apparently kicked off between V8 Supercars Australia management and the operators of Queensland Raceway. For V8 Supercar fans in Queensland, the end result is there will be no V8 Supercar round held at Queensland Raceway in 2010.
How it escalated is anyone’s guess. However a press release from Queensland Raceway’s John Tetley along with his response to V8 Supercars Australia’s announcement shows the frustration from QR’s side. It’s a lengthy read, but we thought you might enjoy it.
V8SA’s text is in italics, with Tetley’s response in bold.
Queensland Raceway V8 Supercars Australia has been unable to reach satisfactory hire and commercial terms with the operator of Queensland Raceway for a proposed 2010 May date.
What this really means is that QR refused to cave in to the V8SA “my way or the Highway” negotiating style. It is just as fair to say QR has been unable to reach satisfactory hire and commercial terms with V8SA; one thing that the paper trail demonstrates is that QR has been far more responsive in the negotiating period and has far more experience in reaching win-win contracts for the use of a motorsport venue than V8SA has.
This date on the 2010 Championship Series calendar had been listed until now as provisional, pending the outcome of talks between the two parties.
V8SA was totally prepared to become the promoter of the Ipswich event in May to keep the event alive, but unfortunately this is not possible due to a long list of unrealistic demands set by the Queensland Raceway operator.
These unrealistic demands came down to recognising the contribution of the QR passholders by allowing them free access to the event. Under V8SA’s contract QR was forced to recognise V8SA’s passholders, of which there are some thousands, versus a few hundred QR’s passholders it is difficult to agree that this condition was either unfair or unrealistic. Without these passholders QR could not have been built in the first place.
The second major requirement was that they would undertake the repair of any damage suffered by the track whilst they had the keys. Would you hand over the keys to your property to someone and not expect them to fix the damage they did? Shane Howard said on national Television “We won’t repairs could cost a lot of money.
What is particularly galling is that V8Supercars are criticising QR for wanting to protect public property.
QR also tabled a requirement for a five year deal to try and avoid the annual haggling that is so irksome for everyone. If V8SA is not willing to enter into a five year agreement it casts doubt about V8SA’s commitment to the event. Casting doubts on the Ipswich event is something Mr Cochrane has done many times since 2002 so maybe this time he has chosen to make it come true.
QR demanded a near record hire fee for the hire of the venue despite its ageing facilities, and also insisted the venue would not be responsible for obtaining the very necessary CAMS licence that is required under the FIA’s sanctioning of V8 Supercars as an International Series, amongst many other things.
Firstly, QR is the newest track in Australia and secondly QR agreed to accept the hire fee offered by V8SA so the first part of this paragraph doesn’t make sense. We have had very very few complaints from the fans about the facilities we provide. Lack of shade is the major complaint.
The CAMS licence is a Furphy. QR agreed to take responsibility for maintaining the track to the standard currently approved by CAMS for the days the V8s would be there. It is standard practice for an event promoter to provide all of the insurances required by a venue to deliver an event.
As the V8s would have been the only CAMS sanctioned activity in 2010 it makes even more sense that the licence should be held by V8Supercars. It does not make business sense – there is no point buying a track licence for a whole year when it is needed for three days.
This, coupled with the fact that fans and corporates have dropped off from attending QR because of the lack of decent facilities, means that QR at Ipswich is no longer a viable venue for Australia’s premier motorsport Championship.
This is absolute nonsense. Firstly, QR cannot compete head on with publicly funded events like the Gold Coast and Townsville. Both of these events had a significant impact on our sales last year resulting in a huge loss of money for QR; money that now has to be made up with revenues from grass roots motorsport. The 2009 event was sandwiched between both of these events and placed on top of the Ekka.
QR has strong feelings about the morality of grass roots motorsport subsidising professional motorsport.
QR raised the concern with V8SA in September 2008 that QR would be adversely affected. This concern was ignored and QR suffered the loss that any reasonable businessman would have predicted was going to happen. Queensland is the only state with two street races, unless you count Bathurst, so it was obvious that the future for the QR V8 Supercar event had been severely compromised.
Shane Howard, acting CEO for V8SA, said: “This is extremely disappointing for all our fans but we had given QR a very reasonable offer and we have to be responsible to our teams when we hire venues and conduct events.
“The unrealistic hire fees and un-commercial terms demanded by QR, when compared with other permanent venues, are absurd given the standard of the QR infrastructure for fans and teams alike.
“QR’s reluctance to be a CAMS sanctioned venue further compounds a very difficult position for us as we are a fully fledged FIA Championship. Almost no money has been spent on fan facilities at QR in the last eight years despite our ongoing requests and it is now looking very tired from a fan and corporate point of view.”
The CAMS issue is getting repetitive and already dealt with. What QR fails to understand is how facilities it doesn’t have could be looking run down.
The requests from V8SA have never been written down, defined or quantified so it is difficult to refute this point except to say that any special facilities for this event would only be used for two days a year.
The positive news is that V8SA will still be conducting 15 events in season 2010 including offering two events to fans in Queensland with the Dunlop Townsville 400 in July and the Gold Coast event in October. The 2010 season opener kicks off in Abu Dhabi at the world class Yas Marina Circuit from February 18-20th.
“We do question how a venue which was built with significant State Government funds and is leased on Ipswich Council land can manipulate groups such as ours with ridiculous hire figures and non compliance with the Government recognised sanctioning body is surely got to be questioned?” V8 Supercars Australia Chairman Tony Cochrane said.
ABSOLUTELY WRONG AGAIN. The truth is Queensland Raceway was built with a $ for $ grant to a club from the Department of Sport just like many other amateur sporting facilities in this state. Approximately $1,500,000 was raised by selling life memberships and further funds were raised from a variety of commercial sources and private investors. They also had a loan, on commercial terms, from Queensland Treasury. It is the original Life Members, who are now QR Passholders that V8 Supercars have refused to recognise.
What happened next was a disaster for motorsport. The Qld 500 V8 Supercar event in 1999 wrecked the track. The club led by Dennis Brown that built QR had no choice but to make the heart breaking decision to place Queensland Raceway into receivership. At that stage everybody – including the Life Members had lost everything.
John Tetley, one of those original investors & Life Members formed a consortium with five other people and purchased the lease for the property from the receivers in April 2000. Since then QR has grown enormously in popularity and can boast that it was the busiest track in Australia in 2008 with an amazing 349 days of activity. QR has done a great job of returning value to all amateur motorsport enthusiasts of South East Queensland – not just Tony Cochrane’s organisation.
“Every year dealing with John Tetley turns into a greater nightmare for all of us in the Championship and I totally understand V8SA getting to this very frustrating point. With so many V8 Supercar teams headquartered in SE Queensland we now need to focus on what we can do for the future.
I can assure everyone present that dealing with the management this organisation is never a pleasure. Negotiations usually have to be carried out through their lawyers. As they constantly escalate their requirements, access to QRs assets and Sanction Fees every year becomes more unpleasant and difficult to justify. Perhaps the word “NO” is a nightmare for some of the people in V8 Supercars.
Fortunately working with the V8 Supercar staff on the ground is almost always a pleasure and they have managed to make the event something the QR staff has looked forward to.
“Maybe the time has come for us to work with the Queensland Government and jointly build our own permanent facility to ensure the nearly 1000 jobs in our great industry are keep here in SE Queensland.”
Is this the real agenda Mr Cochrane?
Are you aware that Queensland already has more full time race tracks than any other state in Australia? For the real grassroots motorsport enthusiast there are more race meetings, sprint meetings, drift events, show’n’shines, etc. etc. in South East Queensland than in any other state of Australia.
There are many dozens of businesses that make their living servicing some 30,000 active members of clubs and associations. QR communicates directly with 197 clubs and has over 6,000 names on its Email distribution lists.
Can Mr Cochrane show the everyday enthusiast how V8Supercars contributed to that growth in any measurable way?
Further, QR has not closed its doors to the V8 teams for practice or future events, so what is the justification for yet more taxpayer millions to paid to your company?
Stop trying to shift the blame for the decision you wanted to make – and now have!
Click here to view the original text on QR’s website, or scroll down and have a look.