Cash key in NZ Grand Prix fight
Search Driven for for sale
The fight to host the New Zealand Grand Prix will come down to how much investment the Auckland Council or Hampton Downs owner Tony Quinn will pump into the event.
Three circuits - Manfeild (near Palmerston North), Quinn's track at Hampton Downs in North Waikato and Pukekohe Park Raceway, south of Auckland, are bidding to become the host from 2018.
Series promoter Geoff Short has already received one offer and expects to make a decision by the middle of next month.
"Submissions are supposed to be in by the end of this week," said Short.
"We have a proposal from Manfeild already and a proposal from Hampton Downs coming by the end of this week.
"We are at Pukekohe this weekend and we are working with them about what is real around Ateed [the Auckland Council's events arm] investment and track resurfacing and all sorts of things."
Short has to weigh the pros and cons of each venue and then try to find a choice that is best for the once-iconic event.
"The criteria is to build the highest profile event that we possibly can that is financially viable," he said.
"We all know that if Tony [Quinn] wanted to throw everything at it, well that could possibly do it. We'll know more about his exact plans next week."
Hampton Downs is quite clearly the best facility of the three. It is more modern and works best for the cars and teams. It won't have any local council support, however, and Quinn will only invest in the project if he is able to run the event his way and with his promotion, which could prove an issue when Short has been contracted by MotorSport NZ to promote the entire championship.
Pukekohe Park Raceway's case rests on how much, if any, money Ateed will offer them. While Pukekohe has the most history on its side it will lose out to the other two tracks if not for significant council support.
That support could be there, however, with Ateed's deal to bring the Australian Supercars championship to Pukekohe Park expiring after this year. Any new deal would need some upgrades made to the circuit and Ateed might be involved in contributing to the bill. If that were the case, the idea of a second major event at would help offset their outlay.
Despite rumours of talks already taking place, Ateed's head of major events Charmaine Ngarimu denied having had any discussion about the NZ Grand Prix.
"Ateed has no involvement with the NZ Grand Prix. We have not been approached by the organisers, and if we were, we would need to assess any request against the Auckland Major Events Strategy criteria.
"For Supercars events in Auckland, we are concentrating on the ITM Auckland SuperSprint 2017, and no decisions have yet been made for Auckland Supercars events in 2018 and beyond."
Pukekohe Park Raceway was approached for comment but aside from confirming their interest in hosting the New Zealand Grand Prix they said no discussions with Ateed had taken place.
Short, however, has been told talks have been held.
"For Ateed to be involved we are talking about a bigger picture," he said. "I haven't been intimately involved in the discussions with Ateed but it is obviously part of a big plan to resurface the track which is a $1m upgrade to the circuit and so on. I just don't know what that looks like - it has been Pukekohe that have had those discussions."
If those talks haven't happened Pukekoke is fast running out of time to be a serious contender with a decision due in the next fortnight.
Manfeild's bid has been submitted with the support of local councils.
"I can say that Manawatu have gone to a big effort and they have put something forward that is really positive," Short said.
Council support has become a major necessity for most major motorsport meetings.
"One thing we have uncovered here is the opportunity," said Short.
"We obviously have two events but four circuits in the South Island. So I went on my trip through and we started discussions back in January basically looking at the councils' desire to have our events there.
"We are taking 180-200 teams of four people with four bed nights let alone what else we are bringing in.
"We have got some councils engaged and wanting to have the events in the area. We have two South Island councils working on proposals at the moment."