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V8 Supporter Clueless About Race Deal Details

Wellington V8 Supporter Roger Walker:

- Explains Why Canberra Lost Millions On Holding The V8 Race... Weather
- But Hasn't A Clue About Details Of The Wellington Race Deal For Ratepayers
By Kevin List

With Wellington’s number one V8 race supporter, Mark Blumsky, being away from Wellington, Scoop caught up with V8 race supporter Roger Walker. Mr Walker is a Wellington architect and wrote a recent article published in the Dominion Post supporting the Wellington race. Mr Walker is also a committee member of the V8 race supporters club. Mr Walker told Scoop there are now more than 12,500 supporters signed up through the V8 race supporters' website.

According to Mr Walker a number of these supporters live outside the region including his V8 car race-loving brother. “There’s quite a few [V8 supporters] from outside Wellington. My brother used to come to Wellington when they had the street races here but he’s never really bothered coming since the races stopped. He’s looking forward to coming again.”

After reading the Auditor-General’s report on the Canberra V8 race, Scoop was keen to get the inside oil on how Canberra had lost millions on the V8 race.

The report shows that first Canberra lost money through holding the race, and then it lost money by pulling out of holding the V8 race. AVESCO the company that owns the V8 race received millions of dollars in penalty payments when Canberra welched on a five-year deal after only two years.

Unfortunately Mr Walker had never read the Australian Auditor-General’s report on the financial disaster that was Canberra V8 race, “I don’t know who the Auditor-General is”, he told Scoop.

However through utilising his library of Australian Motorsport magazines Mr Walker was able to enlighten Scoop as to the background of how Canberra lost millions of dollars through holding a V8 race.

“The state of ACT signed up to the V8 the race for five years, the race ran in mid-winter in atrocious weather conditions. Television cameras showed Canberra as a bleak hole of a place,” he said.

Despite the race being scheduled for a Wellington autumn, Mr Walker had great confidence that Wellington’s weather wouldn’t let him or the V8 race down. Mr Walker then elaborated on how the company backing the V8 car race, AVESCO deals with capital cities that want to re-negotiate the deal.

“The incoming government in ACT then tried to ‘can’ the event because they said it was portraying their [capital] city in a negative way. They then tried to negotiate a summer date, which they [the Government] would have been happy with but AVESCO wouldn’t change the date. AVESCO said ‘somebody has to run it in mid-winter and you’re the muggins that signed up - so ‘stuff you’,” he said.

Wellington has already once pulled out from attempting to attract the V8 race. Wellington’s Mayor Kerry Prendergast told the Dominion Post last year, "We have a strict events policy. For every dollar spent by the Ratepayers we expect a $20 return and it was nothing like that". In fact according to Victoria University's Martin Lally even the modest return estimated by the Council in its economic impact report is seriously overstated. In a recent report on the race Mr Lally says the most realistic figure in the Council's impact report on the race is one which indicates $8 million in return for $3.5 million of annual investment. [See Martin Lally’s report-]

When asked why Wellington didn’t try and attract the race in the past Mr Walker replied “I think that they’ve re-negotiated a different deal…although I’m not sure.”

Mr Walker was also unsure about any details concerning the deal that had been being brokered by the Auckland City Council with AVESCO last year. According to Metro magazine the Auckland City Council was going to give the race organisers an interest free loan. In Wellington according to the City Council's proposal the estimated $23 million to be spent on the race will be a grant rather than a loan and includes $14 million in cash subsidies to the race promoters. In short, in Wellington money is to be paid for the privilege of holding the race in Wellington. Mr Walker was unable to comment on this.

“I really don’t know…I really don’t know what the deal is,” he said.

Mr Walker was however confident of massive visitor numbers for Wellington should the council agree to spend $23 million dollars of ratepayers money on attracting the V8 race.

He considered the V8 race was likely to attract just as many overseas visitors as the Return of the King premier. Mr Walker also pointed out that the race could not be held in Palmerston North because that city couldn’t handle the 200,000 people, which, in his opinion, the event was likely to attract.

- Wellington V8 Supporters website


© Scoop Media

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