The ACT Government and AVESCO today announced that plans to run the Canberra 400 V8 Supercar race for the next two years would not proceed.
In a joint statement, both parties said they had agreed to terminate the Canberra event due to the unacceptable outcome of a cost benefit analysis and the continuing burden this placed on the ACT rate payer.
CTEC had successfully negotiated a contract with AVESCO in 1999 for the rights to stage a round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series from 2000 - 2004 inclusive. AVESCO has agreed to a financial settlement on the remaining two years of the contract
The decision comes after scrutiny of race results for the past three years and acceptance that original plans for a V8 Supercar race in the national capital, in the middle of winter, could not be realised.
ACT Tourism and Sports Minister, Ted Quinlan said he can't understand why the previous Liberal Government decided to hold an event of this calibre in the middle of a Canberra winter.
"Severe winter conditions have done little to show Canberra at its best and images of freezing fans huddling in the grandstands say it all. Extensive TV coverage and other publicity is negated by images that reinforce a stereotype that our city is cold and bleak," Mr Quinlan said.
"A prime concern for both AVESCO and CTEC has been the mid-winter timing, but advice from the National Capital Authority has unequivocally ruled out a different date for the event.
"Moving the event to a warm time of year was essential to attract visitors, sell tickets and enjoy a successful event. Retaining the event in winter posed unacceptable financial risks to the ACT rate payer."
AVESCO Chairman, Tony Cochrane, agreed that a change of date was essential for the viability of the event.
"AVESCO has publicly supported a change of date to a warmer month where Canberra could achieve the proven combination of a street circuit race and a carnival or party atmosphere," he said.
"As a result of this decision we will be reviewing other options to add another showcase event to the V8 Supercar calendar in 2003.
"The race formats developed for the Canberra event received positive reviews from fans in general and generated strong television ratings, these may be used at other rounds of the V8 Supercar Championship Series in the future.
V8 Supercars remain Australia's premier motorsport category with crowds at all other V8 Supercar event experiencing growth of between 10% - 25%. The slide in crowd support for the Canberra event can only be attributed to the timing of the event.
AVESCO and the ACT Government have agreed that should there be an opportunity to create a carnival atmosphere around a car race at a more appropriate time of year, then this option would remain available for a period of 5 years.