Superboats could be added to Newcastle Supercar weekend

POSSIBLE RETURN: A competition boat on Newcastle harbour during an Offshore Superboat race. Picture: Phil Hearne
POSSIBLE RETURN: A competition boat on Newcastle harbour during an Offshore Superboat race. Picture: Phil Hearne

NEWCASTLE’S debut Supercar round could be held against a backdrop of powerboats, with both sports in talks about holding races on the same weekend.

In a plan that would intensify the city’s biggest ever motorsport weekend, the Offshore Superboat Championships would race on Sunday, November 26, the last day of the season-ending Supercar round in Newcastle East.

The powerboat series website already lists that date in Newcastle as its “Round 6”, though president Graham Fraser would only confirm “it’s in discussion”.

But Supercars spokesman Cole Hitchcock said talks are taking place about a Newcastle double race billing.

“We’re definitely talking to them, and we definitely see the powerboats as a value-add for the event and for spectators,” Mr Hitchcock said.

“We’d love to have them there.”

A powerboat race in November would end a one-year Newcastle absence for the series, which previously used a circuit of the harbour, through the heads and back.

Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said council officers are “supporting the process” of exploring the viability of dual races, and the powerboats would “run under the banner of Supercars”.

“Investigations are being done by Supercars organisers to see if it can work as a package,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Obviously, they’d have to satisfy the legislative requirements of maritime, port authority and emergency services.”

On the prospect of car and boat races at the same time, Cr Nelmes said she was “very supportive of bringing major events to Newcastle”.

'SUPPORTIVE': Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Supercars Championship chief executive James Warburton, and series drivers Scott McLaughlin and James Courtney at Fort Scratchley on Tuesday. Picture: Marina Neil

'SUPPORTIVE': Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Supercars Championship chief executive James Warburton, and series drivers Scott McLaughlin and James Courtney at Fort Scratchley on Tuesday. Picture: Marina Neil

Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne said a powerboat race on the same weekend as the Supercars would be “a slap in the face”.

“It’s disappointing they haven’t consulted with the local community in terms of the timing. They certainly haven’t briefed the elected council,” Cr Osborne, one of two Newcastle councillors on record as opposing the Supercars Newcastle 500, said.

“It sort of shows how the state government plans these things, by keeping the community in the dark and working to the benefit of these private entities.”

Mr Fraser, the superboats president, said the series’ October 15 race on Lake Macquarie will go ahead whatever the outcome of the Newcastle proposal.

The series moved from Newcastle to the lake last year, with onlookers crowding the shore in numbers likened to a “Sydney to Hobart” start.