Sydney Dragway cites weather risk in prize money change

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A joint statement has been issued between Sydney Dragway and ANDRA with Sydney Dragway management claiming they have significant concerns as to ongoing commercial viability, with respect to hosting large ANDRA Drag Racing Series events, in particular the Australian Nationals and Nitro Champs. Prize money is again to be hit.

Sydney Dragway (SD) cited weather patterns, a frequent promoter concern, that make a large event more susceptible to risk.

“SD’s sustainability has been seriously threatened in recent years and management is taking a responsible view for the track’s future and that of drag racing,” the statement read.

“Adding to this, SD is concerned how it can fund significant capital expenditure required for the venue’s dilapidation program under its lease obligations with the NSW Government, such expenditure being necessary to repair and maintain the venue as it ages whilst investing in both safety and comfort of spectators now and into the future. The capital expenditure is vital in securing the venue’s future whilst enhancing the drag racing experience as a whole.”

The statement goes on to explain that ANDRA acknowledges SD is a not for profit organisation and as such all profits are reinvested into the track. The SD directors are unpaid with all operating costs managed tightly however increases in many areas have been unavoidable, such as the lease, licences, cleaning, waste, power, water, equipment leases, preparation staff, promotion and general maintenance.

“SD has been completely transparent with ANDRA having allowed a thorough review of the financial statements for SD over the past two years and in particular the actual results of the large events.

“Extensive consultation between ANDRA and SD has acknowledged SD’s issues and ANDRA recognises the need for the membership base and participating racers to accept reasonable change, while understanding that this non for profit organisation must, like any commercial business, manage its costs, risk and sustainability where factors like climatic effect and entertainment fashion are out of its control.”

The rub of the statement comes back to prizemoney, again a familiar tale for the drag racers of Australia.

“SD does not want to impose extra charges in the form of entry fees which have remained unchanged for some years,” the statement goes on.

“SD invests heavily and strategically in the promotion of these two large events with no guarantee of a return and always conditional to climatic effect. Any success from the events is typically marginal and placed directly back into the venue’s upkeep; yet the risk profile remains unacceptably high and the consequence of these losses unsustainable. SD has identified that a large part of the inherent financial risk in running large events is the prize money payable to racers regardless of the success or otherwise of the event.”

According to the statement ANDRA has agreed that for large events held at Sydney Dragway, the risk and opportunity for gain should be shared with those who chose to enter these events.

“ANDRA has agreed with SD in principle to align prize money for the upcoming Australian Nationals and Nitro Champs to full paying spectator entries. A proposed scale will be advised to ANDRA members before entries are advertised. The scale will allow SD to have a portion of its financial risk underwritten by racers but provide an upside if spectator numbers exceed the reasonable full paying spectator numbers set as part of the scale. ANDRA will conduct a post-event review with SD to ensure the formula was fair on all stakeholders.”

The statement bears many similarities to the 2012 one issued ahead of the Nitro Champs and Fuchs Winternationals in that year.

The result of the statement drops towards its end, with ANDRA saying it has agreed with SD to re-set prize money for groups 2, 3 and 4 for the Nitro Champs and Australian Nationals by increasing winner and runner up and removing quarter and semi-finals. What result this bears on total prize money amounts, the statement does not say.

“ANDRA has reviewed what has been proposed and given the difficulty facing SD acknowledges the proposed solution and considers it to be fair and reasonable.

“SD has agreed to ensure continuing transparency and to allow ANDRA access to internal data and information from third party providers to ensure racers’ issues are considered and protected and that SD and ANDRA will review the matter within the calendar year.

“ANDRA will continue to support the board and senior management of SD in its endeavours to continue the track’s financial viability and sustainability. ANDRA will do all that it can to ensure all stakeholders are supported and that the championship racing continues into the future at SD.”

Following the news of changes in prize money, the statement asks for racers to work together with the venue for the success of the events.

“ANDRA and SD ask that all racers and related parties work with the venue and the sport in ensuring every chance of full paying spectator attendance is achieved. We ask that where possible to spread the word of the upcoming race events via personal databases, business databases, invitations, corporate engagement and any form of exposure related strategies that may attract new people to the sport. SD will be more than happy to provide art work for social media, related press and pamphlets for businesses willing to distribute these materials.”

What do you think about the statement? Are the track taking the right action or should prize money be left alone? Let us know in the Facebook comments section below.


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