Perth Supercar Grand Prix bid stalls

PLANS to hold a V8 Supercar Grand Prix in Perth have been refused by council.

In October, council gave in principle support to the proposed three-day V8 Supercar event to be held around Langley Park in April 2001.

Perth V8 Supercar Grand Prix Committee chairman Ross Roberts said the event was likely to draw up to 150,000 spectators.

It is now likely Malaysia will gain the event that was forecast to bring $20 million to Perth.

Permanent works such as widening parts of Riverside Drive and Terrace Road by four metres, the relocation of about fifty flame trees between Plain and Hill Streets and building new roads through Langley Park and Ozone Reserve proved major sticking points for council.

Deputy Lord Mayor Michael Sutherland pushed to have the event refused, saying the required works would undo all the work council had done to improve the Swan River foreshore.

“Riverside Drive would have to be widened for this event to go ahead,” Mr Sutherland said.

“It’s been everyone’s wish that Riverside Drive would disappear or at least reduce in significance.”

Mr Sutherland said council had received no detailed plans on how sensitive design issues called for in the proposal would be handled.

“The original plan brought to us was much softer than what has come to us now,” he said.

Councillor Bert Tudori said all councillors agreed the event would be a big thing for Perth.

“We’d hate to lose it. But we can’t afford to have Langley Park encroached on,” Mr Tudori said.

Councillor Noel Semmens said the race gave Perth a chance to compete with other capitals.

“I believe this is a proposal that should be given very broad consideration,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Councillor Judy McEvoy who wanted council to consider the proposal further before dismissing it.

“This is going to bring 10,000 hotel nights to Perth for the time it is here,” Mrs McEvoy said.

“We’ve lost the Heineken Golf and we’re likely to lose the Hopman Cup in the next couple of years.”

However, council was forced to make a quick decision. It appears a firm yes or no answer had to be given before 31 March.

Councillor Tess Stroud said that what council might gain in dollars, it would lose on the foreshore and “beautiful Langley Park”.

“We’ve been given a deadline on this but the first we heard of it was three or more months ago,” Mrs Stroud said.

“I think with some more discussion we could have come to some arrangement.”

However, it appears the organisers were not prepared to compromise on track layout.

After the vote, a visibly disappointed Mr Roberts said the track layout worked well for similar events held in Melbourne and Adelaide.

However, the geography of Adelaide, at least, lends itself to the sort of track layout proposed.

Mr Roberts said he thought council had thrown away a lot more than $20 million.

“The tourism benefits are now definitely lost. The Auto Expo we were going to bring over with the event is now lost,” he said.

“I think the whole motor racing industry over here will now fail.”

Mr Roberts said council had given his organisation very little cooperation.

“We haven’t seen any recommendations from them on how we could address the Langley Park issue.

“They haven’t come back to me with any compromise,” he said.

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