It is unlikely there will ever be a united front between motorsport’s major categories Down Under even if drastic changes occur, according to Australian Racing Group CEO Matt Braid.
The statement comes amid discussions about the future of motorsport in Australia, and what it means for the Repco Supercars Championship, Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series, and Turtle Wax Trans Am to name a few.
In recent weeks, it emerged the group that owns the Supercars business – Racing Australia Consolidated Enterprises Ltd (RACE) – has the contractual option to buy ARG.
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A rare opportunity brought the Supercars and Australian Racing Group categories together in Bathurst last year (Daniel Kalisz)
A decision is expected to be made by the end of the month.
That could see Australia’s top racing categories owned by one organisation. However, it’s highly unlikely the best of the best will race together on the same bill due to two primary obstacles.
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The first is the slew of competing sponsors.
Automotive retailers Repco and Supercheap Auto back Supercars and the TCR Australia Series respectively.
Turtle Wax is the naming rights partner of the Trans Am Series while Meguiar’s is the official car care product of Supercars.
The Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series was among the support classes at the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 (Supplied)
The second is the competing broadcast partners.
Supercars is aligned with subscription-based service Fox Sports and free-to-air partner the Seven Network.
Meanwhile, the ARG-promoted SpeedSeries – headlined by TCR and Trans Am – is shown on Stan Sport and occasionally the Nine Network.
ARG shareholder Barry Rogers, who also owns a share in RACE, has previously expressed his desire to see Supercars, TCR, and Trans Am race on the same bill.
Rogers was drawn into the RACE ownership group on the proviso that a holistic approach would be taken and that the ARG suite of categories would have a greater presence on the Supercars support roster.
Some categories, including S5000, Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS, and Gulf Western Oils Touring Car Masters have raced as Supercars supports – although the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series and Turtle Wax Trans Am have only featured once by way of force majeure.
Ultimately, Braid said that the alignment of the categories to certain partners will preclude them from doing that in the immediate future.
Furthermore, even if the categories did end up on the same network with aligned sponsors, Braid said the sport is better off having them stand alone.
Turtle Wax Trans Am is among the Australian Racing Group slew of categories (Supplied)
“The ARG categories, TCR is a good example, has grown to a point where it’s got its own broadcast partner and its own naming rights partner distinctly in competition with Supercars’ partners, so the ability to actually merge those two together is probably not there,” Braid told select media including Wide World of Sports.
“Realistically you could have two strong series. TCR is not going to overtake Supercars any time soon, there’s no doubt, that’s really never going to happen. From a point of view of existing on its own, standing on its own two feet with its own fan base, broadcast partner, and sponsor group, that’s already happening.”
“I can’t see that being an easy proposition, even if there was desire,” he added.
“And at the moment I don’t think there’s a desire, certainly not from our point of view, none of our competitors, or manufacturers.
“Realistically, it’s difficult to see as an outcome. In its current form, keeping the two separate, you’re providing more content for everybody, from fans upwards. Why would you mash them together under one?”
A Trans Am-spec Chevrolet Camaro (left), Renault Megane out of TCR, and a GT World Challenge Audi R8 LMS (Daniel Kalisz)
Braid said the ‘whole of sport approach’ referenced by RACE in a recent statement is not about having all the categories racing under one umbrella as Rogers had hoped.
Rather, it would make for a more homogenous approach to event organisation and scheduling.
Supercars currently hosts 12 events per year while SpeedSeries stages seven.
“It’s just never simple to go mash it all together in one with the whole of sport approach,” said Braid.
“The whole of sport approach makes sense. It’s actually approaching the sport as one, rather than putting it all together as one.
“That sort of discussion I think would be very helpful. It’s productive. It’s actually coordinating. It’s bringing the industry more aligned together as one to make it better, rather than actually making the entities intertwined.”
The Repco Supercars Championship continues its season at Sandown on August 19-21.
The SpeedSeries resumes at the same Melbourne circuit on September 16-18, headlined by the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series and Turtle Wax Trans Am title decider.
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