The first of the most obvious things to occur in the design of the Newcastle Supercars street circuit has happened. They’re changing the circuit layout.
Reported by The Newcastle Herald on Thursday, the track will no longer bisect Pacific Park, in Newcastle’s east end.
The reason given, according to Supercars spokesman Nick Johnston, was that “organisers had listened to feedback from the community when deciding to change the layout.”
Of course. Apparently a plan to cut an area of local green-space in half is something that didn’t seem like a bad idea until the locals went “hey, wait up a minute.”
Apparently designing a race track within a residential area that already has a strong dislike for any change to take place around them is hard. Who knew?
How the circuit design will change has not been announced yet. According to The Herald, that will come “next month”.
But what will those changes be? The current location of the circuit only provides a couple of options. And each come with their own new set of issues.
Let’s go to the maps.
The first option is to run the track down Pacific Street to Scott Street, before turning right and rejoining the current proposed circuit.
While this is the simplest solution, it is also the one that is going to quickly hit trouble.
The part of Scott Street that runs along the northern edge of Pacific Park is currently earmarked to be end of the line for Newcastle’s proposed light rail service.
The timeline currently given by Transport for NSW shows that construction of the line is due to start in 2017, with completion slated for 2019.
While the circuit might escape being in the construction zone for the initial running of the event, that will be the only time. By the time Supercars get around to racing in Newcastle in 2018, that area will be a construction zone for the light rail line.
The second option is to have the circuit turn right onto Ocean Street, which runs along the southern edge of Pacific Park. From there, it would continue onto Shortland Esplanade near Newcastle Beach, turn left onto Zara Street then rejoin the proposed layout with a right-hand turn back onto Scott Street.
The problems here? You’re adding more houses into the circuit footprint. You’re closing more roads. You’re creating further impediments to access to Newcastle beach at a time of year when people are considering getting back into the surf.
There is a third option, but it is way too stupid to properly contemplate. That involves extending Telford Street through to the intersection of Ocean Street and Shortland Esplanade, and having the circuit run around there. But that won’t – that can’t – happen.
The problems with the proposed Newcastle Supercars street circuit will not end here. Once details emerge of the works required around Nobbys Beach and Foreshore Park become known, you can expect local opposition to the event to ratchet up further.
It remains a bad idea to locate the circuit in the east end of Newcastle. It is not an area that is suitable to host a motor race. Nowhere, other than perhaps Monaco, do you see a race run through suburban, residential streets.
Holding the race here is putting having one nice helicopter TV shot above the needs of creating a successful and sustainable event.
Oh, and a short post-script.
I received a comment on my first piece.
Garry writes: “It’s people like you that nothing goes ahead in Newcastle Between you and the Greenies every thing wont go a head your a dick head go back under your rock. Fool”
Garry, I don’t think you quite understand my opposition to the race. I want the race to be in Newcastle. I want the race to be next to the harbour. I want it to be a visual and racing spectacular.
I don’t want it in the east end. The circuit layout is bad for racing. The location is bad for not giving the people who live there the shits.
If they want the Newcastle 500 to be a great event, it cannot be held where they are proposing.
I cannot argue the “your a dick head” bit though. Nail on the head there, mate.