Airport race organiser rejects Council report

Photo: Full Noise Photography
Photo: Full Noise Photography

Organisers of a sprint car race proposed for the Mudgee Airport have responded to a report recommending the event is ‘not supported’ by Council.

Councillors will vote on the proposal for the one-day event that would be held on one weekend per year over a three to five year period at the general meeting on Wednesday evening.

The main points of concern highlighted in the Council report include:

  • Disruption to the FlyPelican service due to set up and pack down on Friday/Sunday
  • Potential damage to the runway
  • $30,000 cost of required hot mix 
  • Lengthy evacuation in the case of an emergency

The full report can be found HERE

Adam Drake from Runway Motorsport Australia has rejected the concerns and wanted to ‘clear up a few things’ after discovering the report on social media.

  1. We have never asked for the airport to be closed for three days. We will only be racing on the Saturday. We will be setting up the event on the Friday and pulling down on the Sunday, both of which can easily occur without affecting the operation of the airport, hence it would be operational for Friday and Sunday. We have successfully worked around and with REX airlines at our previous venue for a number of year, with no disruption to their services. In fact, REX pursued us to sponsor the event due the number of people that used their services before and after the event.
  2. We have presented an Economic Impact Statement to Council, stating that the event would bring in over $500,000 to the town in one weekend.
  3. The rental fee offered to Council for the use of the facility for the Saturday, as well as access on the Friday and Sunday, would more than cover the one or two private aircraft that Council would receive landing fee's from. This would also pay for airport staff to be present on race day. The rest would be additional revenue. As previously stated in our proposal, we are open to negotiation on this.
  4. We have stated to Council that we can clear all of our timing gear from the runway within two minutes in the event of an emergency.
  5. The event has the support of the majority of local residents, entrants from all over the country, corporate sponsors, Mudgee business’, major wineries and the Mudgee Chamber of Commerce.
  6. We have never suggested the event be held in February. We were open to any date suitable in consultation with Council, and we suggested March to May.
  7. We have stated that with the hot mix laid, the risk to the runway is zero.
  8. We laid that amount of hot mix five years ago for two thirds that price, and we were paying retail. I am sure that Council would get better rates with infrastructure providers than I can.
  9. It concerns me that entities are concerned with safety, yet suggest using a public road. A road that is not smooth, is narrow, has no where for pits or spectators or emergency crews etc.
  10. As far as a bank guarantee, we never said we were reluctant with this. This was simply not discussed any further with us.
  11. We have offered to meet for a second time with Council, to bridge any concerns about how they perceive our event and what type of event it actually is, as well as discuss any other issue'. This has not been taken up.

Councillor Paul Cavalier explained on the Mudgee Guardian Facebook that a decision has not been made on the event and the report is only a recommendation. 

“For the record, I want to see this event get off the ground, but I’m sick of all of this negativity. A lot of hard work and money goes into preparing these reports, let alone getting these events off the ground, and we have a responsibility to all of the ratepayers to make sound decisions, that are in the best interests of all of the stakeholders,” Cr Cavalier said.

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Cr Cavalier explained a few main points:

  • We wanted to shorten up the time frame that the airport would be closed from three days (worst case) to one or one and a half, which isn’t an outrageous request.
  • We also wanted to cover off on a few things, including who foots the bill in the event that damage is done to the runway or the facilities, a question that remains largely unanswered.
  • The repair bill for the lighting systems alone could be up in the vicinity of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if a car was to hit them.

“Would the event be great for the region? Absolutely. Would it bring a lot of money to town? Definitely. Would everyone lose their minds if the airport had to stay closed for six weeks in the event that the lighting got damaged? You can bet your bottom dollar they would,” Cr Cavalier said.

“The reality is, we just need to consider everything when we make decisions, because that’s our job.”