Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Speedway set to stay at Baypark despite ups and downs

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Bay Park
Bay Park

The final event at Baypark on Saturday will finish off a mixed season for speedway in Tauranga.

Poor weather, resulting in low spectator turnout, thefts, and event cancellations have plagued the sport, but event promoter Bernie Gillon said speedway's future at Baypark stadium was very secure.

"We've had a few weather-affected events, where we still race but a lot of spectators stay at home, but we've also had some really big events," he said.

Speedway is an essential part for Bay Venues to get a return on the facility.
Bernie Gillon

The plug was pulled on one speedway event in February, causing a loss of more than $10,000. The Bay of Plenty Super Saloon Car Championship was cancelled due to the track's condition after the jet sprints were held in the stadium.

The most recent speedway event, the Demo Ramp Derby and FMX Display, was soured when seatbelts and batteries were stolen from derby cars after the event.

Last Saturday night or early Sunday morning, the only valuable things left on most of the derby cars were stolen, Mr Gillon said, which was really disappointing.

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"The event was a huge event, we had good spectator numbers, there was a lot of excitement with the freestyle motocross guys."

Mr Gillon said he had learned from the thefts, and next year he would make sure security guards were stationed by the derby cars after they came off the track.

Despite the ups and downs, speedway's future at Baypark was not at risk, Mr Gillon said.

"Speedway is an essential part for Bay Venues to get a return on the facility.

"Rugby's not there any more and there's very few events that they can hold inside the speedway stadium. You aren't going to have 15 or 16 concerts in the space of six months, which is how many speedway events we have," he said.

Bay Venues had been exploring other events for the stadium for years, "but ... speedway is the most essential ingredient to the stadium being successful."

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Baypark general manager Ervin McSweeney said it recognised there had been many up and downs but speedway was a very important part of the stadium. "Bay Venues will be trying to get other attractions but would not be pulling the plug on speedway by any stretch," Mr McSweeney said

Today would be the speedway finale, the Fireworks Extravaganza and Harry Fredrickson Stock Car Gold Cup, all of which Mr Gillon said was "something not to be missed".

- Bay of Plenty Times

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