Newcastle Supercars season could go 'deep into summer' and 2021

ON TRACK: The Supercars on Watt Street during the opening lap of race two at last year's Newcastle 500. Picture: Marina Neil
ON TRACK: The Supercars on Watt Street during the opening lap of race two at last year's Newcastle 500. Picture: Marina Neil

Supercars boss Sean Seamer hopes the dates of "key events" like the Newcastle 500 won't have to change but says rescheduling postponed rounds could result in the 2020 season running "deep into summer".

The season was suspended last month amid the COVID-19 outbreak after only one round. It had been set to continue with round two at the Australian Grand Prix until that event was abandoned only days beforehand.

Rounds three to five have since been postponed but despite concerns in other sports about whether they will resume this year, Mr Seamer is adamant the 12 remaining rounds will go ahead.

"We'll continue to discuss it with the teams, but right now if we have to go deep into summer or even early into next year then we are prepared to do that at this point in time," Mr Seamer said this week. "It's just a matter of working through different scenarios and seeing how soon we can get back out there."

Mr Seamer hopes to resume the season in June and mooted rescheduling the three postponed rounds later in the year around existing events.

But if the season does not get up and running by June, and as has been discussed by other Australian sports Supercars faces resuming as late as September, the calendar could need to be completely reworked.

Sean Seamer.

Sean Seamer.

If Supercars resumed with the planned Sydney SuperNight on August 28, it would have to postpone another three rounds on top of the three it has, which would more than likely require the season to be rolled into 2021.

Some Novocastrians have concerns about the Newcastle 500 being held in December this year, as opposed to late November, and how businesses, particularly hospitality venues, might be impacted by the weeks-long disruption given it is usually a busy trading period.

City of Newcastle has not considered preferable dates for this year's event should the need arise to shift it.

"We have had no formal discussions to date with Supercars about alternative dates for the 2020 Newcastle 500," a council spokesman said. "Planning for this year's event was scheduled to begin in June this year.

"We have been focused on the city's immediate response to the COVID-19 virus, including the cancellation or postponement of around 30 public events on community land and how we support business."

Mr Seamer said on Wednesday that Supercars' ambition was "to minimise any disruption" to key events like Bathurst, Gold Coast and Newcastle which "require significant set up times".

He said he would prefer not to move "those dates" and that an updated calendar would likely be released "in a couple of weeks."

A Newcastle East Residents Group spokeswoman said if Supercars had to rejig its calendar it should consider dropping Newcastle. She said businesses were already "devastated" about the timing of this year's event, December 4-6, and if it was pushed back any further it would "cause a lot of problems over the summer" given the amount of time it takes to remove track infrastructure.