V8 Supercars Sydney Telstra 500

I had the opportunity to attend the Season finale of the V8 Supercars at the Sydney Telstra 500 at Sydney Olympic Park. Below you will find my thoughts on the event as a whole, and some suggestions for next year, to make the event bigger and better!

We’ll start with the good stuff:

  • The Facilities: The race made great use of the facilities of Sydney Olympic Park:
    • Transport: BIG WIN, and the event certainly made use of the facilities that Sydney Olympic Park had to offer! Getting into and out of the event was very easy and efficient (except for the footbridges…see below)
    • Plenty of Toilets: Thanks to the many permanent toilet facilities around the place, you hardly ever had to queue or miss any action – a big plus compared to other racetracks.
    • The family zone was a winner (as was the Olympic Torch water feature to keep people cool), as were the many various places to sit and rest (mostly around the other pavilions).
    • Concerts: This worked well at the Clipsal500 and worked well here – great to see ANZ Stadium get a workout. Getting Cold Chisel ‘back together’ was a coup, and no doubt helped lure more punters off the couch.
    • Shade: There were plenty of places to go to get some shade, including the picnic tables in various parts of the precinct as well as inside the buildings – This is an absolute must with the weather in December in Sydney!

Now, onto some of the areas that need some work to be even better next time:

  • Track Crossings: There need to be more (at least 3 more). The Bigpond bridge next to the Novotel proved to be woefully inadequate, with long queues of people wanting to move inside/outside the track at various stages (start of qualifying, start of the race, home-time).
    • My suggestion would be to allow track crossing similar to the setup at Adelaide (where a lot of foot traffic arrives in the middle of the back straight – in between races they open the track for a few mins to allow a bulk group of people to cross the track). This would be especially useful near the Bigpond bridge. One small bonus is slightly less concrete walls we cannot see through.
    • There there needs to be another crossing somehow from the back of the pits to the pit-straight grandstands – the 2 nearest crossings are quite a distance away, often through very narrow walkways (see choke points, below).
  • Covered Grandstands: A shelter over the grandstands (again, a-la Clipsal500). I realise that the grandstands on the pit straight may not benefit with the setting sun in the afternoon, but it would help.
  • Grandstand airflow: The grandstands did not allow much airflow under the seats (other grandstands have a simple mesh arrangement; these grandstands were blocked). There was a great breeze blowing (hats, tickets and paper) onto the inside of the circuit – we could have done with that breeze in the stands!
  • Choke Points: There were a number of places around the track where you were down to 1-2 people wide, and created choke points. One of these had a raised step that I saw a few people stumble over. These choke points may be alleviated with more track crossings.
  • Super-screens: There were 14 super-screens at the track, and Tony Cochrane has come out and already said “…that if the post-event review determines there needs to be 20 big screens then they will be in place in time for next year’s Sydney Telstra 500.” The problem is not really whether there are enough, but of their placement. On the outside of the track near Bigpond bridge, I could see 3 screens from where I stood, my suggestion is to revise the placement of the screens.
  • Photography: With so much steel and concrete around, there were hardly any clear spots to take pictures of the racing action. We need the ability of both professional & amateur photographers to help tell the story and get the message out there about V8 Supercars. I’d suggest some more ‘open’ areas behind the racing action to be opened up; allow photographers (with requisite passes/checking) to use the large elevated Car-park to get some good high shots, and perhaps on some corners (like turn #8) setup some stands with clearer view of the track for photographers (perhaps limit time to a few minutes to allow people rotation?) Overall there could be a little less steel in some places where it is no danger (like looking down the ‘roller-coaster’ straight from turn 8 towards turn 9)

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself and believe the event was a success. I am not sure the V8 teams ever had so much ‘comfort’ in a large, covered, breezy building to work on their cars in between races! I will be back next year and hope the event gets bigger and better!