Plans to build an international standard drag strip halfway between Tauranga and Rotorua accelerated today with the presentation of a detailed proposal to a joint council committee that manages the TECT All Terrain Park.
The drag strip is proposed for a 380 ha designated motorsport area within the 1650 ha park. The feasibility study was jointly commissioned by the New Zealand Drag Racing Association and Te Matai Motorsport Inc, the body that represents seven motorsport groups aiming to build facilities in the motorsport zone.
Te Matai Motorsport chairman David Loughlin says the report, produced by Opus, confirmed a strong business case for the venue and was presented to the joint council committee to keep it informed of the development. He says the focus is now on securing funding, with the aim of beginning the two-year site preparation and development next year in the hope of hosting the first full year of events in 2015.
David says the project will be funded from a mix of commercial lending, trust grants and the drag racing association – with hopes that all funding will be confirmed by the end of the year.
The strip would offer an international standard track to attract top overseas drivers. It is expected to host 13 race meetings per year, including one international, two national and four regional events, plus other local club events and commercial activities.
He says the track will support and complement the only other dedicated drag strip at Meremere, and occasional drag racing venues at Taupo and Masterton.
The feasibility report, which was produced by Opus, costs the drag strip and accompanying development at $7.5 million to construct, but demonstrates that with its high benefit cost ratio (7.5) that the full capital cost of the development will be returned to the community within the first year of operations.
Dave says the study shows a high benefit cost ratio, returning $7.5 to the community in the first 10 years for every $1 invested – research that backs up the anecdotal belief that many visitors will bring money into the Western Bay of Plenty from outside the region.
“The money stacks up very well. But we want to stress that we are not asking for councils funds – we do not want one cent from the council, and we will actually be returning to them a portion of revenue on top of land rent.”
The park, which is currently covered by forestry and native bush, is managed jointly by the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty councils. The park is located on State Highway 36, with access to the drag strip 29km from Tauranga and 27km from Rotorua. Resource consent for a drag strip has been granted.
New Zealand Drag Racing Association General Manager Chris Tynan says the Bay of Plenty’s sunny weather is ideal for drag racing because events can only be held when it is dry for safety reasons.
Chris says local racing events at the track could offer boy racers a chance to put their driving skills to the test in a controlled environment and cut down on illegal road racing. He says police in Auckland had noticed a drop off in boy racer problems the nights these events were held at Meremere.
“This is an exciting beginning to what will probably be the park’s largest single development.”