The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship selected Newcastle to host a new event in 2017: the Coates Hire Newcastle 500. It would be the first NSW Supercars event outside of Sydney and Bathurst, and would comprise the final round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Organisers wanted a street circuit that incorporated Newcastle’s sweeping esplanades and beachfront scenery and when the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 roared to life over the weekend of November 24 - 26 it attracted 192,000 people in the three days.
“To put that in perspective,” says Supercars General Manager - Events, Phil Shaw, “Bathurst has 200,000 people over four days.”
Shaw says the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship had a team working on the Newcastle event for two years in advance to get designs, civil works and infrastructure finalised and to meet the safety criteria of the motor racing organisations. And In the nine months leading up to the Supercars race weekend, the engineering firm that builds race tracks for Supercars Australia - iEDM - had a team of 15 people working on the set-up of the track.
“It was a major planning, construction and events-management exercise for all the parties involved,” says Shaw. “A lot of time and effort was invested in the Newcastle event.”
Coates Hire Senior Sales Co-ordinator, Jarrad Whitby, says the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 was a complex build.
“It was a very high-profile area we were working in,” says Whitby, of the foreshore parks and public streets that the street track occupied. “So protection of the ground and surfaces was important and it was not an easy job to get in and out of.”
Coates Hire supplied 70 buildings, 33 toilet blocks, 245 portable toilets, 48 variable messaging boards, 40 concrete (and water-filled) barriers, 12 access machines (eg. scissor lifts, boom lifts), 12 forklifts and telehandlers, 400 ground protection mats, 65 generators, 25 lighting towers, 8km of temporary fencing, 3.5km of crowd control barriers, 14 steel plates and a storage shipping container that held toilet accessories such as soap and paper towel.