Bob Jane issues Calder Park statement

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Calder Park Chairman Bob Jane has signed a Heads of Agreement with the Victorian Government that may in coming months or years lead to some Government assistance to help improve Calder Park in specific areas for drag racing and for motor racing. Please note that there have been no discussions about Calder Park being utilised as a replacement venue for the Melbourne based Australian Grand Prix.

For reasons not fully known to Calder Park the Government has made an apparent decision to assist Calder Park, subject to many conditions. This Heads of Agreement is only the beginning of a detailed process and it has conditions that Calder Park may or may not be able to meet with. So therefore it is premature to make any assumptions whatsoever from Calder Park’s point of view.

To give a brief insight into the history of Calder Park the venue opened in 1962, Bob Jane purchased the business around 1970 and there has been a gradual evolution and development of the racetrack, including the drag strip since its inception. In 1979 Calder Park took on the project of promoting the Australian Grand Prix (AGP) as a national series for a period of 5 years until 1984 inclusive. In 1984, understanding that the Grand Prix would become a South Australian Government project with the then Premier John Bannon in 1985, Calder Park embarked on the project of bringing NASCAR racing to Melbourne by arranging a family deal between the founder of NASCAR, Bill France and his son, CEO of NASCAR, Bill France Jnr in 1982. Bob Jane purchased additional land from the trotting control board next to Calder Park and obtained a permit from the city of Brimbank during 1983/84 to build the Thunderdome.

The building of the Thunderdome actually commenced during October 1984, on the weekend of the last AGP at Calder Park and was completed in late 1988.

The Heads of Agreement with the Victorian Government was the final result of both supporting sanctioning bodies ANDRA and CAMS lobbying the Government over a long period of time with the intention of securing Government funding for a racetrack and a drag strip for these bodies, either separately or collectively. These efforts were in spite of the fact that it was made clear in the Federal Court, in the case of Calder Park versus CAMS, that the FIA delegation had the authority for track safety licensing and not ownership of motor sport.

Bob Jane has the distinction of being responsible for promoting the AGP as a national event for five years, 1980 to 1984 inclusive and having worked with Bernie Ecclestone and the Premier of South Australia to establish the Australian Grand Prix as one of the series in the World F1 Championship, he believes that he has some knowledge on the history of the Victorian Government’s thinking in regard to the Australian Grand Prix being located at Albert Park as a showcase to the city of Melbourne.

The Victorian Government and the board of the Australian Grand Prix have a contract until 2015, with an option of an extension for a further 5 years, until the year 2020, with Mr Bernie Ecclestone for the Albert Park venue. Bob Jane has not personally talked to the Premier about his position, however word has it that the Premier is enthusiastic about the Australian Grand Prix staying at the Albert Park Circuit for obvious reasons, being that the Grand Prix is the single largest sporting event in Australia and has an estimated economic impact on the Victorian economy of in excess of A$500 million dollars per annum.

It is now a fact that the F1 Championship Series is now the domain of governments, states or nations and this is the result of the huge costs associated with moving the F1 teams around the world and the cost of the F1 race cars to transport and operate.

For the benefit of the media- to our knowledge all World Championship Grand Prix events are all sponsored in one form or another by the Governments of nations. This is a result of the huge fees that are involved in the contracts with Bernie Ecclestone and his organisation, including international TV etc and the reason behind the funding is that the events result in many benefits for that nation or city. The F1 events world wide generates huge state or national economic impact with the following benefits:

– Economic impact, being the money spent by visitors, both domestic and international in areas such as; air travel, car rental, hotel and accommodation, restaurants, shopping etc. As I have mentioned this figure could reach A$500 million dollars or more per event over approximately one week during the period before and during the event each year.

– Then there is the telecast which has been reported to exceed a viewing audience of over 1 billion people, this in turn generates massive tourism, not just during the event but for the whole year for a recipient nation or city, i.e. Melbourne.

– In other words the AGP, telecast to the world from the beautiful backdrop of Melbourne at Albert Park Lake is advertising of a nature that money just can’t buy.

Finally (in Bob Jane’s opinion) it would take either an earthquake or something major to change the Government’s position on the location of the AGP. However his thinking, and he hope’s to induce the
Government into thinking like him in the sense that improvements could be made to Calder Park such as creating a major twin drag strip that could bring drag racing back to what it was in the 1990’s, where 1 million people attended the National’s alone each year over a period of 11 years. This equated to an average of 90,000 people per event, per year, something that’s been missing in Victoria now for just on 10 years.

Another improvement would be a lengthened racetrack with lighting, take note that the Calder Park drag strip and circuit has had lighting for the last 30 years and the Thunderdome for the last 17 years so lighting is not a new concept for Calder Park.

We want to produce a racetrack that is capable of meeting and exceeding the most stringent of safety rules and regulations and one that would be capable of hosting the F1 if any unforeseen circumstances arise that prevent the AGP from being held at Albert Park. Most importantly we want a racetrack capable of hosting the following events:

NASCAR road racing
INDY racing
GT 1 racing
Sportscar/ Le Mans racing
V8 racing
Motorcycle racing
Club racing and all other forms of motorsport

One of the advantages of the proposed improvements for Calder Park as listed above is that the venue has the capability of running all or many of these types of events 365 days or nights a year with no set up costs, which is currently one of the unnecessary criticisms that the Government may have with the AGP hosted at Albert Park, when media and some tax payers ignore the obvious economic impact benefits to Melbourne, Victoria and Australia, made annually through the Melbourne F1 AGP.

Please note that due to both media speculation and general interest in motorsport this document has been prepared and is being sent to both media and friends of Calder Park and no response is solicited, however comments are invited.

Bob Jane

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