Racing cars

Quinn hits back at Tassie’s criticism of Australian supercars and race cars

Australian race cars at Symmons Plains in 2021

Aussie Racing Cars owner Tony Quinn hit back at criticism of his class and Supercars from local motorsports identity Barry Oliver at the Tasmania event this weekend.

Oliver, a trackside commentator of Supercars for nearly two decades until 2007, and an eight-time Targa Tasmania winner as co-driver to Jim Richards, lashed out at the category in a column for the Launceston Examiner this week.

He hinted that the SuperSprint format has short-circuited local fans given that the three races this weekend total 300km, half of what the recent Sydney Motorsport Park event added.

However, the strongest barbs were recorded for the support card and the ‘shameful situation’ that the state government is funding the event to the tune of over $1 million a year despite the apparent ‘contempt’ that Supercars shows Tasmanians.

Specifically, Oliver described the Super Series Battery World Aussie Racing Cars, Haltech V8 SuperUte Series and Tassie Tin Tops support bill as a “pathetic, abysmal line.”

On Aussie Racing Cars, he said, “although they offer close racing, the category – with all due respect – is hardly one of the most popular with fans.”

Quinn has now come to the defense of his category and the one in which he recently bought, namely Supercars, as the main shareholder of Triple Eight Race Engineering.

He also highlighted the efforts made by competitors in the support category to race on Apple Island, despite the difficulties encountered in leaving the mainland.

“This is a great event for the state of Tasmania and the local community should be proud and grateful to have such a world-class event in their backyards,” Quinn told Speedcafe.com.

“Australian racing cars have been crowd favorites for over 22 years and have developed a huge local following in Tasmania.

“The Symmons Plains track is one of the most exciting races you will ever see.

“There are many challenges to transporting an entire class to Tasmania for the event, but the ARC lads view it as a very important part of their National Championship, particularly due to the high popularity of the class with Locals.

“Supercars are renowned the world over for putting on world-class events and Tassie is among the best of them.”

Aussie Racing Cars was voted just behind the Carrera Cup as the fourth most popular support category in Speedcafe.com’s 2021 Motorsport Survey, presented by Kincrome, and a clear third in the previous year.

The category also typically includes one-off local riders for its Symmons Plains event, with Hobart resident Ayrton Richardson joining the field this weekend (and for the rest of the season).

The 2021 Tasmanian SuperSprint

As for crowds, they were capped for last year’s Supercars event at Symmons Plains due to COVID protocols but, before the pandemic, it typically drew 55,000 over three days.

According to then-Premier Will Hodgman, in 2019 it is the largest event in the state, and interstate visitors would normally inject about $6.4 million a year into the economy.

The state government also supports the annual ‘Race Tasmania’ event(s), which is headlined by the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia series.

This year’s Ned Whiskey Tasmania SuperSprint begins on Friday with practice and qualifying for the aforementioned support categories, although the circuit is closed to spectators on that day, another bone of contention with Oliver.

Speedcafe.com approached Supercars for an explanation on this, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

The Repco Supercars Championship field will be on track on Saturday from 09:50 local time/AEDT for two practice sessions, a qualifying session and Race 3 of the season.

Further qualifying and races 4 and 5 will follow on Sunday.