Radical formats proposed for Supercars ‘Big Bash’

  • 01/06/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Combining the Supercars and Super2 fields for an all-in spectacular is among a host of radical ideas proposed for a ‘Big Bash’ style night format at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2018.

At the centre of the plan is a fresh push for night racing at the venue through temporary lighting and use of the 2.8km short circuit.

With the circuit’s proposal for permanent lighting yet to receive government sign-off, Supercars is currently costing temporary additions to the existing infrastructure.

Supercars CEO James Warburton told Supercars.com that the costings are being done alongside workshopping of format ideas to create a unique spectacle.

Just days after Albert Park’s elevation to championship status, Warburton revealed that Supercars is considering making Sydney a non-points event.

That would enable radical format options designed to create rapid-fire entertainment in a similar nature to cricket’s Big Bash or Fast4 Tennis.

“What we want to do is create something unique,” said Warburton of the Western Sydney event.

“We’re currently costing up the lighting we’d need and the next piece to that will be the format and how it works.

“You’ve got to continue to innovate in your sport and you’ve got to push the boundaries and find new levels of interest.

“It’s hard to get a crowd at Sydney Motorsport Park. It’s always been difficult because of the location.

“It might be a made-for-TV event that we’d run mid-week, on say the Wednesday and Thursday nights, or be based around fan activation at the event.

“It could be non-championship which allows a lot more freedom in terms of the format, including opening it up the Super2 teams as well.

Sydney has been earmarked for the proposed Big Bash event Sydney has been earmarked for the proposed Big Bash event

“A lot of things have already been done with reverse grids and things like that, but combining the fields for a series of heats and a final is among what’s in the mix.

“At the moment there’s a few pieces in the puzzle that need to come together to get to where we need to be to make it a reality.

“At this stage it’s all conceptual. It is a work in progress which we hope to bring to life in 2018.”

Warburton has long championed the push for Supercars night racing, which has not occurred on Australian soil since 1997.

SMP hosted the opening round as a day/night event the previous year utilising the short circuit and basic permanent lighting that remains at the facility.

“In the old days when we raced under lights the lighting was relatively poor, but it wasn’t a
disaster,” he said.

“We’ve already got light at a level which is commensurate with suburban sporting grounds, but for broadcasting you need significantly more.

“Bringing in temporary light towers and positioning them well, it’s possible to get them up to minimum pixels from a broadcasting point of view.

“That’s currently being costed and we’ve got great providers in Coates Hire that we’re working closely with. Then it’s a matter of putting it together and seeing if it can work.

“It’s very conceptual, but I said many years ago that I wouldn’t give up until we achieved it.

“I think it would be a good showcase for the business plan that Glenn Matthews (CEO of circuit managers the ARDC) has put to the NSW government to put lights in permanently.”

Plans announced last year to turn Hidden Valley into a night race did not go ahead after a subsequent change of government in the Northern Territory.

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