It entertains millions of people around the world with its high-octane thrills, precision passing
and amazing displays of edge-of-your-seat driving. But when the spectacle of the Newcastle 500 rolls into town this month to wrap up the 2019 Supercars season, there will be plenty more than just the on-track action for people to enjoy.
Newcastle City Council and local businesses have developed an exciting schedule of complementary activities that will be held across the central business district throughout November 21–24, with a focus on making the weekend about more than just a race.
The Enjoy Newcastle campaign encourages both racegoers and locals to come in and explore what’s on offer outside of the official race precinct, allowing everyone to make the most of the festive atmosphere created by Newcastle’s largest annual sporting event.
The action will kick off on Thursday, November 21, from 4.30pm with your chance to meet a champion in Civic Park.
All 26 Newcastle 500 drivers will be on hand for the free autograph signing session, giving race fans the opportunity to meet their Supercars idols in the flesh before the big race and take home their own permanent reminder of the event.
A live broadcast of Fox Sports’ Trackside program will amp up the atmosphere at the park, while roving entertainment and face painting will help keep the kids entertained.
Civic Park will also play host to the free Superkids Pitstop on the Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm, where children can speed down the monster truck slide, navigate their way through a fun obstacle course and take part in circus workshops, while the smallest members of the family can enjoy the dedicated under-6s zone.
Family members of all ages can also join in the fun by rolling the dice on an oversized version of Newcastle’s own Monopoly board. A special edition of the world’s most famous board game was launched last month by Winning Moves, featuring Newcastle themes and locations including Newcastle, Bar and Merewether beaches; King Edward Park; Blackbutt Reserve; Fort Scratchley; Newcastle Ocean Baths; Darby Street and Hunter Street, as well as showcasing local businesses and events such as McDonald Jones Stadium and Surfest.
Head further east from the park, and you’ll find an avalanche of activities on offer in the Hunter Street Mall from 10am to 2pm all weekend.
More than 70 mall traders have banded together to create an exciting two-day program that will include everything from pop-up stalls and outdoor trading to special exhibits, interactive workshops and the inaugural Super-Duper Pushcarts Challenge.
Ka-fey Café owner and co-organiser Lucy Glover said the traders were keen to harness some of the excitement generated by the Supercars weekend and make the most of the street closures to encourage people back into the mall to explore its “hidden gems”.
Assistance for organising the activities was received from Newcastle City Council through their Special Business Rate funding program.
“All the traders are going to trade out in the mall to help showcase the carnival atmosphere, or set up a market stall with activities to make it into an interactive zone,” Lucy said.
“We’ve got 73 traders involved including hairdressers, clothing stores, jewellery makers, financial firms, cafes and more, there’s going to be a local dance studio doing dance showcases, a fashion show organised by the traders, workshops for the kids and an indigenous element, plus plenty more that are still being finalised.
“We’re inviting all of Newcastle to come and see us and discover just what is on offer in the mall because we’ve got so many wonderful businesses who put 100 per cent in every day doing what they love and who need your support.”
One of the most exciting activities taking place in Hunter Street Mall will be the inaugural Super-Duper Pushcarts Challenge.
Members of the public are invited to sign up to take part in the challenge, which will see teams of two (one pushing, one steering the kart) battle it out against each other along a special course in the mall.
A number of races will be held throughout the event, with an anticipated prize pool worth around $1000 up for grabs.
Racers will be able to pre-register before the event or register on the day itself, with each team asked to give a $10 donation in order to take part. All proceeds are being donated to local charities, with further details to be announced on the @superduperkarts Facebook page.
Information about all the activities planned for the mall will also be available closer to the Supercars weekend on the @hunterstreetmall Facebook page.
Other key events throughout the weekend will include the once-in-a-lifetime concert at No.1 Sportsground on Saturday, November 23, which will see global superstars KISS and hometown heroes Screaming Jets take to the stage for a truly epic live performance.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said there were so many opportunities for visitors and locals to get involved in the Supercars event, with activations both inside and outside of the race precinct.
“I know some people are coming to Newcastle purely for the KISS concert, and others are coming for the motor racing, but there are so many activations and activities in between that provide people with opportunities to get involved,” she said.
“We’ve really worked hard in developing the offerings throughout the whole of the city, that’s several kilometres worth of activations leading right up into the Civic and cultural precinct, all the way into No.1 Sportsground, the Hunter Street Mall area and the East End race precinct,” she said.
“Aside from the substantive Supercars event itself for the motor racing enthusiasts, there are a lot of activities that are very family-friendly in the race precinct, and at the same time, we’re doing large family-friendly activations in the Civic Park area.
“For the last few years, we’ve also looked at how we can incorporate Smart City technology into our programming. This year we’ve seen the delivery of an autonomous vehicle that will eventually be mapped to run on streets around the East End, so there’s an activation that will take place in Wheeler Place in the city centre where people will get to sit in and try an autonomous vehicle, potentially for the first time.”
Cr Nelmes said when it came to moving in between the various activations, visitors would feel the benefit of being able to use Newcastle’s light rail service this year, making it easier for people to travel both to the race precinct and explore other city centre hubs as well.
Cr Nelmes said the Supercars weekend offered an amazing opportunity to showcase the city on a local, national and global scale, creating a sense of pride in their city for many Novocastrians.
“That’s what a lot of the feedback after the first two events was. People really loved the way the city was showcased,” she said.
“It is really showcasing us at our best, with the beautiful historic East End on show, which is being televised to such a large audience not just nationally but also internationally.
“It has put Newcastle on the map in terms of being able to host big events, and we’ve actually attracted a lot of interest from other international event organisers looking at how they can factor Newcastle into their future plans because of our success in hosting a big event like Supercars.”
This is the third year Newcastle will play host to the final weekend of the Supercars Championship, representing the halfway mark in a five-year deal inked by Supercars Australia, Destination NSW and Newcastle City Council in 2016.
Supercars Newcastle 500 Event Manager Kurt Sakzewski said Newcastle had provided a wonderful stage to host the final event of each year.
“Newcastle has been a fantastic host city. The way the people and businesses have embraced the event is outstanding,” he said.
“Right from year one, we saw local businesses adapt to meet the needs of the visiting Supercars fans and teams, and this is evolving every year. We see many return visitors to the event each year, and they’re learning more about what the region has to offer with each visit.
“The circuit is one of the most challenging in Australia, which leads to some exciting racing against the backdrop of the city and its beautiful beaches. “The pictures that are beamed around the world are immediately recognisable as they are like no other race track we visit.”
Kurt said the event has also been embraced by the drivers themselves, who love the close-in atmosphere and technical challenges of the track.
The challenging 12-turn, 2.629km circuit features fast straights and twisty corners, with three 90 degree corners and a challenging hairpin bend near Camp Shortland.
Designed to be fast and tight, it takes in some of the city’s most spectacular coastal scenery including both Newcastle and Nobbys beaches and the harbour foreshore along Wharf Road.
“The drivers love the proximity of the fans to the track. Believe it or not, they can hear the crowd roar when they come past,” Kurt said.
“The circuit also challenges the teams in setting up their car as it has a mix of fast straights and tight twisty corners. We have only raced here twice before, so all the drivers are still working on mastering the tricky 2.6km circuit.
“The Newcastle street circuit has the most elevation change of any street circuit outside of Mount Panorama in Bathurst. This creates for not only a unique racing experience for the drivers, but also gives the fans plenty of different viewing opportunities around the circuit.”
Preparations for the event kicked off mid last month, and Kurt said visitors would notice a few differences to the race precinct this year, with plenty to see on and off the track.
“This year, patrons will be able to make use of the light rail service that will drop them at the Queens Wharf stop, which is only metres away from a new entry gate we’ve placed at the Western End of Market Street Lawn,” he said.
“Entry via this gate will provide direct access into the event, including a great new food and beverage zone at the old Newcastle train station. As well as being a great place to grab something to eat or drink, it also provides a unique view of the cars as they exit turn one and head up Watt St.
“In addition to the on-track action, we have plenty to see and do around the track with fan activations, including the Supercars Kids Zone in Pacific Park. The Australian Defence Force will once again be providing aerobatic displays on both Saturday and Sunday, which are always a highlight at our events.”
While the final rounds of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship are clearly the main event for race fans, there are actually five different categories in action over the weekend including the Dunlop Super2 Series, ECB SuperUtes Series, Toyota 86 Racing Series and Aussie Racing Cars.
Practice sessions for all categories will kick off from 9am on Friday, November 22.
Qualifying and racing will be held on both the Saturday and Sunday between 9.20am, and 6.15pm, with the two main 250km Supercars Championship, races firing up from 4.15pm each day.
For more information about the Newcastle 500 visit www.supercars.com/newcastle