“IT WAS an unbelievable feeling waking up this morning.”
That was how Supercars champion Jamie Whincup greeted the media the day after winning an unprecedented seventh series title in a nail-biting finish in the inaugural Newcastle 500.
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The Holden superstar didn’t seem to mind that the weather had turned dreary, as the city had already been blessed with three radiant spring days across the weekend.
The Supercars weekend was being dubbed in some circles as “the biggest thing to happen to Newcastle since the ’97 grand final”.
“The event was unbelievable,” a beaming Whincup told reporters.
“It was a huge success … 190,000 people through the gates at the weekend and I reckon every single one of those fans saw good value for money. I’m going to remember this for a very long time.”
As Whincup – and Newcastle – revelled in the success of the inaugural event, construction crews were hard at work dismantling the track.
Vehicle access had been restored to parts of Wharf Road and Scott Street on Monday, while roads were open in the East End.
Clearways on Bolton, Church and Newcomen streets will remain in effect until Thursday.
Supercars event manager Kurt Sakzewski said the track infrastructure would be completely dismantled by mid-December, with the bulk of the equipment to be removed over the next fortnight.
“So far, it’s on schedule,” Mr Sakzewski said.
“It will be a lot easier to move around when it’s finished, particularly around the Foreshore Park area.”
Mr Sakzewski confirmed a review of the three-day event was under way.
He said Supercars “absolutely” intended to improve the relationship with the city’s East End residents but noted many already supported the event.
“We’ll be working with the residents [and] the businesses,” he said. “Now that they’ve seen what the event is, how the event integrates with the environment as well, there will be a lot of work done between now and next year.”
Newcastle council boss Jeremy Bath said he was “open-minded” about waiving a footpath trading fee to better support business activity.
It comes after the Newcastle Herald reported on Monday that not all CBD businesses received the spoils that they were expecting.
“From a CBD perspective, it was clear to me that a lot of the shops needed a footpath presence,” Mr Bath said. “Those businesses who were not out on the street with fans were the ones with empty shops.”
The council will also look to better involve Lake Macquarie and the wider Hunter.
“Places like Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens need to share in the flow-on effect,” Mr Bath said.
“The disappointing thing was that [spectators] were largely restricting themselves to Newcastle. I want them to experience the Hunter Region.”
Mr Bath believed Supercars “put Newcastle on the map”.
“My reaction, and I think most people’s reaction, was one of pride,” he said.
Meanwhile, the event won the fans choice award for best event at a Supercars gala night on Monday.