HIDDEN on the eastern fringe of the Newcastle 500 street circuit is a bar and venue many Supercars fans may not be aware of.
Last year, the inaugural race was the venue’s largest yearly revenue raiser which helped provide a new coolroom and showpiece bar.
And this year, the beachside watering hole described as an “underground secret” is preparing for an even bigger weekend as race fans discover its prime location.
“A lot of people don’t know we exist,” Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club president Brad Kinniard said.
“It’s an underground secret built into the hill.”
The surf club, which may be well known to plenty of Novocastrians, sits below the Shortland Esplanade section of the track outside the designated race precinct.
The location allows the bar and kitchen to cater to those who temporarily exit via the nearby gate, as well as non-racegoers who venture to the beach on Bathers Way.
The club can also sell on-site consumption beverages not offered in the precinct.
It raised about $15,000 across the Newcastle 500 weekend in 2017 and also benefited as an official Supercars charity partner.
The funds helped propel the installation of a bar made out of an old club boat, which was originally launched and named after a life member of the club, Michael Jennings, and used in the 1970s.
“We were quite prepared to pay for it and use some of the money we raised from Supercars,” Mr Kinniard said. “But we also applied for a grant and we have just got $20,000 in grant money.”
The Community Building Partnership grant awarded this week through Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp will cover some of the costs and be put towards other club projects.
“I was pleased to be able to provide a $20,000 grant to the club to improve the kitchen, bar and coolroom facilities and install disabled access,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“The improved kitchen, bar and coolroom facilities will allow the club to generate much needed income that can be reinvested into better facilities for club members and the Newcastle community.
“Our local surf life saving clubs perform so much community service and encourage all people from all walks of life to get involved.”
Mr Kinniard hopes race fans will discover the bar and kitchen during the Newcastle 500 – open each day from midday until dark – and then return when the venue is regularly open each Sunday from 3pm to 7pm.
“It’s a great place to sit and relax in the cool,” he said.
“No one gets paid [during the Newcastle 500], all the bar staff are volunteers.
“Flat rate for any beer – $6.
“Every cent we raise, as we did last year, goes back into something in the club, like life-saving equipment.”