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Cars racing at Hamilton City in April

Image Courtesy of V8 Supercars Australia
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New Zealand's V8 Fate
By: Jasmine AMIS

Published: 21/10/2011

The V8 Supercars calendar will look a little empty after next year, as 2012 will mark the last time New Zealand hosts the race in Hamilton City.

If a new location isn’t arranged, this will be the second time New Zealand has been dropped off the annual car racing schedule since 2001.

The Hamilton City Council ended its seven-year contract with V8 Supercars Australia early, after discovering they would have to spend $600,000 in resource consent costs for the April 2013 event or be forced to cancel the event completely.

The council recently announced that it accepted a contract exit fee of $1.25 million from V8 Supercars Australia, in return for the race infrastructure valued at $5 million. There were two years remaining as part of the contract, however it was proving to be unsustainable for New Zealand's growing urban city.

V8 Supercars spokesperson Cole Hitchcock said that it is not uncommon for V8 locations to change.

"Before Hamilton City we raced at Pukekohe. We more often add locations than remove them," he said.

"We are approached on a daily basis from locations all around the world that want to host V8 events because there are clear economic benefits, amongst other things.”

Hamilton City has hosted the annual V8 event for the past five years and has struggled to raise profits, costing local rate-payers approximately $40 million in total.

Attendance at this year’s ITM 400 was significantly lower than previous years, and cost the local council another $9 million.

The low attendance was put down to the Canterbury earthquake, as well as coinciding with the Rugby World Cup and New Zealand’s overall economic situation.

This was also the first time V8 Supercars had to organise the event and take on the financial responsibility after the original promoters, Caleta Street Management, went broke and closed last year.

Mr Hitchcock said that relocating is not a major issue, explaining, "Street race events are fairly portable. It’s just a matter of transporting the infrastructure. We move our sport all around the world. We were at Bathurst two weeks ago, and right now all the cars and the infrastructure are here on the Gold Coast.”

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said that Auckland would eventually gain from Hamilton’s loss of the V8 Supercars event.

V8 Supercars Australia has insisted that no decisions have been made about the location after 2012, but the Whenupai Air Base in the western suburbs of the capital city is a strong possibility.