Sport

Queensland Raceway upgrade needs the Premier's backing

Mayor Paul Pisasale gets set for a hot lap in a V8 Supercar with Ipswich driver Ash Walsh. He has big plans for Qld Raceway.
Mayor Paul Pisasale gets set for a hot lap in a V8 Supercar with Ipswich driver Ash Walsh. He has big plans for Qld Raceway. David Nielsen

A $15 million upgrade of Queensland Raceway is in the pipeline with Mayor Paul Pisasale set to meet Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for funding talks.

Ipswich City Council is seeking matched funding of $7.5 million from the Queensland Government for stage one of what is a project of vast scope.

The council has an Ipswich motorsport precinct master plan, marketed as the most significant of its kind in the Pacific and South East Asia.

It includes a $52.34 million expansion of Queensland Raceway, Willowbank Raceway and Ipswich Kart Club.

The plan includes a three-star hotel and motorsport infrastructure consisting of a central hub, speedway facility and off-road facility - a $42.74 million development.

A further investment of $127.54 million in industrial and commercial space and general infrastructure is also in the plan.

The plan's objective is to maximise commercial and economic benefits to the local and Queensland economy while supporting and facilitating Australia's burgeoning multi-billion dollar motorsport industry.

The master plan will establish community and commercial uses at the precinct, develop a sustainable funding model to finance operational and management activities and identify opportunities to upgrade services and identify funding opportunities to upgrade services and infrastructure.

The QT has seen an economic statement that says a seven-year construction period would generate more than $138 million to the local economy per year, combined with a construction workforce of more than 200 people.

Deloitte Access is now doing an economic analysis of the benefits to the economy that can be presented to the Premier as compelling reason to open the purse strings and fund the plan.

Council has established a management company - Ipswich Motorsport Precinct Pty Ltd - and has signed a formal agreement with Bathurst Regional Council to drive the redevelopment.

Deputy Mayor Paul Tully said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bathurst would promote the sharing of successful motorsport initiatives between the two councils.

Ipswich City Council is working to recruit a general manager for the company who will implement the master plan and control operations at Willowbank.

"This is a golden opportunity to turn this into the greatest motorsport precinct in Australia, as part of Ipswich and close to the capital city," Cr Tully said.

"This will happen over a number of years, but we have set up a council-owned company with council directors and independent directors.

"We are searching for a general manager for the company and this will put the motorsport precinct on the firmest footing this city has ever had."

Cr Tully said motorsport was a major economic driver for the region with the Winternationals on their way and the V8 Supercar round of action in July.

"These events bring thousands of people to Ipswich - boosting accommodation providers and tourism operators and filling our restaurants, pubs and clubs," he said.

The expansion and revamp of the Queensland Raceway has been backed by V8 Supercar legend Craig Lowndes and is vital to securing V8 Supercar rounds in Ipswich.

The drivers want a revamped circuit and an upgrade will allow for more events to be held and make the precinct more economically viable.

"We are working with V8 Supercars to secure a long-term partnership to continue to bring a round of competition to Ipswich," Cr Tully said.

"We are also looking at opportunities to host more V8 events at the precinct and are working with potential funding partners within the State Government."

The initial $15 million investment in the upgrade of Queensland Raceway is wanted first by council, with the revenue generated as a result to be reinvested into the site.

Cr Pisasale said motorsport was a great generator of economic growth, jobs and tourism for Ipswich.

"That is why we have been working for many years to provide wonderful product at Willowbank," he said.

"The company we have set up will develop the precinct and make sure motorsport fulfils its potential. I want to show Annastacia that the motor sport industry can create a lot of jobs out here.

"I want the right environment for the teams to go out there and make it their home and the industries relating to motorsport to base themselves there and create jobs.

"We need to extend the track and make sure we have the right facilities."

Topics:  annastacia palaszczuk craig lowndes mayor paul pisasale queensland raceway