Newcastle 500 Supercars track no place for hoons

WORK IN PROGRESS: An artist's mock-up of how the Newcastle 500 Supercars track may look after the grandstands and pit building have been built.
WORK IN PROGRESS: An artist's mock-up of how the Newcastle 500 Supercars track may look after the grandstands and pit building have been built.

Hoons keen to try out a hot lap of the Newcastle 500 circuit will have CCTV cameras and police to deal with when the track opens.

Supercars contractors will start erecting 1400 concrete barriers, grandstands and other temporary structures at the track on Monday.

Event manager Kurt Sakzewski said 90 to 95 per cent of the circuit would be resurfaced by Monday and Watt St would reopen next week, although Newcastle City Council is unsure when Shortland Esplanade will open.

Mr Sakzewski said increased attention on the circuit would keep motorists “pretty honest”. 

The police can make sure they have a regular presence, and that usually keeps them pretty honest.

“There’s going to be traffic control and we’ll be working well with the police,” he said. “We’ll be having additional CCTV cameras deployed around the work site as well.

“The police are very much on it. Obviously it’s very convenient having a police station at the end of Watt St. They can be there in a second.  

“We expect there’ll be some curious people who will actually want to come and down find their way around the circuit, but we’ll just work with the police for those ones. You know they’re coming, so the police can make sure they’ve got a regular presence, and my understanding is this is an issue that’s been around in the east end before.

“It's a bit different than when you have them turning up in random places. The police can make sure they have a regular presence, and that usually keeps them pretty honest.” 

About 600 workers, including electricians, labourers, truck and crane drivers, riggers and engineers will install the “event overlay” in the next 5½ weeks before the Supercars and support races hit the track on Friday, November 24.

The 39-day installation will be an annual event in Newcastle East for at least the next five years. 

Mr Sakzewski said driveways for businesses and residents would be open until the week of the race, when they would be closed off by gates.

“For the following years, mid-October, that’s when you’ll see visible signs of the race coming to town, and that’s all you see. Next year the timing will be the same, probably Monday, October 15,” Mr Sakzewski said.

“To date’s all been civil works, which is all about renewing the roadways and the footpaths around east Newcastle, and that will all be completed shortly.

“What you’ll see from Monday is all those temporary items that make up a race track starting to appear. The concrete barriers that line the circuit are obviously a very key one. We start in the areas of least disruption to the residents and businesses, hence Wharf Rd, then in the later weeks we come around and install the ones closer to properties.

“The grandstands and corporate structures will start to be built, event fencing, a lot of portable buildings for contractors, race teams, and then as we get a bit closer you’ll start to see the over-track bridges go in, in about mid-November.”

The three-storey pit building will be used at the Gold Coast 600 next week before being trucked to Newcastle and reassembled on the enlarged car park on Wharf Rd.  

“They’ll start building it in Newcastle while they’re still pulling it down on the Gold Coast,” Mr Sakzewski said.

Bolton St and all roads west will remain open to traffic during the race weekend, but transport officials and race organisers will encourage people to take public transport into the east end.  

The roads which make up the track will be closed from 7am to 7pm on each day of racing, November 24 to 26, and open to pedestrians, residents, businesses and taxis outside those times.

Supercars chief executive officer James Warburton said in a statement that the track preparation work had been a “massive” project which would leave a “permanent legacy for decades to come”.

“It has certainly been the biggest project we have undertaken and has seen some century-old infrastructure now fully restored or replaced,” he said.

“All the major civil or capital works associated with the track have been done this year so in future years any disruption will be minimal.

“Vehicle access will be opened each evening for residents and businesses who have all been sent detailed information on exactly how the circuit build will be managed and accessed in this period.”

Mr Sakzewski said restaurants and other hospitality businesses inside the track were booking out and encouraged them to take full advantage of the race.

“Our vendors will all be down in the Foreshore Park area, so we only envisage having a very small presence in Pacific Park, because that’s a family zone and there’s so many traders already along Pacific St and Hunter St.

“It’s first time for people to come here. It’s obviously also the first time for Newcastle businesses to trade around this event, so it is new for everybody.

“You’ll find out after year one, then people know what’s where and how, and places like Customs House and Paymasters and Estabar, people will go, ‘That was a great option. We want that next year. We know what the date is. Let’s lock that in.’

“You’ll see a lot of people locking in earlier because they know what it is.

“It’s just that hard sell in the first year.”

Mr Sakzewski and other Supercars officials inspected the new Wickham transport interchange on Thursday morning to look at how pedestrians will access buses. The interchange will receive its first trains this weekend.

Mr Warburton will address a Property Council of Australia lunch on Friday.