Dale Budge is a sports writer for the NZ Herald.

Motorsport: Fans must catch drift or miss out in future

The series promoters say the future of stadium-based drifting events will come down to crowd numbers. Photo / John Borren
The series promoters say the future of stadium-based drifting events will come down to crowd numbers. Photo / John Borren

Kiwi motorsport fans will help determine the future of drifting this weekend at Baypark Stadium in Mt Maunganui for the third round of the D1NZ national championship.

The series promoters say the future of stadium-based drifting events will come down to crowd numbers " if enough people turn up to watch in the comfort of proper seating and with the close proximity to the action they will look to spend the extra money required to set up such stadiums in temporary fashion.

If the crowd numbers aren't there a return to more traditional race tracks is on the cards.

D1NZ National Drifting Championship managing director Brendon White said the stadium experience was significantly better.

"You see the American championship the Formula Drift series doing it a lot and it works. It gives fans a seat, which you don't have at a lot of motorsport venues, you are very close to the action - at Baypark you are standing one metre away from a car going 130km/h around a banked concrete wall.

"There is definitely an element of risk for us - if people don't come out and support it then we won't keep doing it."

The series has already been to Forsyth-Barr Stadium in Dunedin for the first closed roof drifting event in the southern hemisphere and this weekend marks the second straight stadium event in the six-event calendar. A future visit to Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland means a 3-3 split between stadium events and track events.

"This year is a bit of a test to see how it goes," White said. "If the fans want it we will take it to the next level. We will put it out to all the councils and all the stadiums across New Zealand and we will do it.

"If people don't really support it in the initial test stages of actually doing it then it is obviously not logical for us to keep doing it next year."

White's crowd expectations aren't over-the-top. "We would love to see 6000 at a minimum this weekend."

If they get that sort of figure then White will look to take the series to new venues and markets such as Napier and New Plymouth which don't see many topline events.

"We would look at existing stadiums whether it be Western Springs, different speedway stadiums around New Zealand or actual dedicated stadiums like Mt Smart, Westpac Stadium or North Harbour." Dale Budge

- NZ Herald

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