Auckland racing track closes, members left in the lurch
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The breeding ground of famous New Zealand race car drivers such as Scott Dixon is closing in order to make room for container storage.
KartSport Mt Wellington will shut its doors on October 12, leaving around 150 motorcycle members in the lurch with nowhere to race.
The Auckland Motorcycle Club — also known as the Bucket Racers — have hired the Mt Wellington track from KartSport to race every weekend for more than 30 years.
Head of the Bucket Racing committee, Liam Venter, said it was likely Bucket Racing would cease to exist without a track to race on.
Riders Liam Venter and Rick Ford, pictured at Mt Wellington Kart track. Photos / Michael Craig
"It would be terrible to lose it. Our youngest is 14 and our oldest is 74 and he'll overlap you on the track, he's pretty amazing and that's because he, like the rest of us, are so passionate about it."
Venter said he heard the news after rumours started floating around back in July and it was a complete shock.
"I had no idea. If I did we would have tried to stop it back then. We've been left out of the loop completely, it's pretty devastating really."
Venter said landlord Panuku Development Auckland planned to lease the sporting site out to a container company for storage at a much higher rate.
Panuku Development Auckland's portfolio management director, Ian Wheeler, said KartSport Mt Wellington entered into a formal ground lease with Auckland Council in 2009.
"This was initially on a three-year term and was never a long-term arrangement.
"Since the lease expired in 2012, Auckland Council has been in ongoing conversations with KartSport Mt Wellington about their relocation to Colin Dale Park, with the club indicating it would move out by the end of 2017."
The Herald also put questions to the Auckland Council to confirm the site would be leased to a container company at a higher rate and got no response.
Wheeler said Panuku had continued to work with the group to confirm a relocation date, agreeing to a further extension during this time.
"Panuku understands KartSport Mt Wellington has been offered a community lease at Colin Dale Park and are in discussions with Auckland Council to progress this."
Venter said the new site would not be completed for another two to three years which meant the club was without a track until then.
"If we don't have a track for two years our community won't survive."
Venter [above] said the biggest issue was that there was only one other track in Auckland but they couldn't even use that because they couldn't get resource consent.
"If a swimming pool got shut down, members would just go to a different pool but if it was the last pool there would be an uproar - that's what's happening to us."
KartSport's 200 members could however use the Auckland Car Club track.
The Bucket Racers weren't the only club impacted - the University of Auckland Formula SAE Team used the facility regularly, along with the Mt Wellington Roller Club.
Venter said the track was an iconic breeding ground for top New Zealand racers such as
Dixon, Mitch Evans, and Nick Cassidy.
"The Roller Club have also had world champions - it's pretty sad to see it come to an end."
Venter has been representing all four groups and was still hanging on to hope that an arrangement could be made with Panuku and Auckland Council.
- NZ Herald