The Newcastle 500 looks like it will be red flagged unless there is one final twist in the saga that has had more turns than the circuit itself.
Following protracted negotiations about the future of the event between the City of Newcastle, Supercars and Destination NSW, reports emerged earlier this month that the controversial race could return to the East End for the series’ opening round in March – but just for 2024 – with the NSW Government only offering funding for a one-year deal.
While the proposal has the backing of both the state government and the racing organisation, it needs local government support to go ahead.
But Newcastle Council does not look poised to give a stamp of approval, confirming ahead of Tuesday night’s monthly meeting that a one-year extension does not track with recent community consultation.
“In 2022, Council resolved to undertake extensive community consultation on the option available under the existing agreement to extend the Newcastle 500 for a further five years following the 2023 race,” a Council spokesperson said.
“To date, the NSW Government and Supercars Australia have not agreed on a five-year extension of the race.”
“Instead, the NSW Government has offered a one-year extension.”
“This is inconsistent with the extensive community consultation undertaken in 2023 which focused on the option for Newcastle to continue to host the Newcastle 500 for a further five years.”
Minister for Jobs and Tourism John Graham confirmed the government had provided funding for 2024 and remained committed to finalising a longer-term plan but said the future of the event sat firmly in the hands of Newcastle Council.
“The government is engaged in discussions about funding future events over the five-year term with Supercars and will work with council to find a solution,” Mr Graham said.
The event previously enjoyed strong support among Newcastle Councillors for its benefits to tourism and the local economy, but that appears to have shifted gears since the release of a recent KPMG report which showed community sentiment was split.
It comes ahead of the upcoming local government elections in September next year.
Supercars remains hopeful of reaching an agreement with next year’s race calendar scheduled for release in early October.
“Supercars and Destination NSW are aligned in their shared commitment to host the opening event of the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship in Newcastle,” a spokesperson said.
“Discussions are ongoing with Newcastle City Council and we continue to work collaboratively to find a resolution swiftly regarding the long-term future of the event in NSW’s second largest city.”