Top-class international motorcycle road racers are expected to take part in an inaugural Sunshine Coast Tourist Trophy (SSC TT) in December 2017.
SSC TT promoter David Rollins says the planned event would be similar to the famous Isle of Man TT (IOM TT) and sanctioned by FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, the world motorcycle sport governing body).
“This is an event for top world-class road races. It’s not for “Johnny-come-latelies”, he says.
The SSC TT boss and advertising and communications expert responsible for the Mr Motocross series says he is assembling a team of skilled professionals to run the TT with world’s best practices in event management.
Today he and Sunshine Coast Councillors addressed two meetings where the 610 local residents and business people directly affected by road closures were invited.
David proposes the SSC TT runs over a 47km course in the Blackall Ranges south of Maleny taking in popular motorcycle roads such as Mountain View Rd, Maleny-Stanley River Rd, Kilcoy-Beerwah RD, Bald Knob Rd and the Lanesborough-Maleny Rd. The full details of the course and viewing areas have not yet been finalised, but it will start and finish in front of Maleny State High School in Bunya St with a large grandstand opposite.
“To see motorcycles going flat-out around the course will be a spectacular thing to watch,” David says.
Local councillor Greg Rogerson says the route is “a drawcard for motorcycle enthusiasts across the country”.
“They are beautiful motorcycling roads,” he says.
The four-day SSC TT event would consist of untimed practice, timed practice, qualifying and race day with racing in four classes limited to 20 riders each.
The classes, in consultation with Motorcycling Australia, are expected to be senior TT open racing, sidecar F1, BEARS F1 and possibly open production or superstock 600.
Unlike the free-for-all IOM TT, spectators would be limited to six official viewing areas for safety, with full amenities, big screens, security fencing and seating available.
“We’re trying to make this as attractive as possible for spectators.”
David says the council has been very supportive.
“The council have been fantastic. They are progressive and they understand how important tourism is to the wealth of the region and are concerned about how to make things work. It seems to have captured their imagination.”
He says the initial response from locals at the meetings today have been mixed.
“The reaction was split fairly evenly down the middle,” he says. “This is the toughest audience we will have because they are directly affected, but there were enough signs that were promising.”
He says more than 150 attended the first meeting including some of whom had “individual specific concerns”.
“All issues are manageable. We can and will address all issues because we want to be in it for the long haul. There were enough people there who really want this to go ahead because they are more about Maleny than themselves.”
The Ducati-tragic from Sydney says he is a passionate rider and a former motoring journalist with magazines such as Revs, Wheels and Sportscar World.
“I was hunting around for roads to stage the event and was looking at doing this in NSW but I was stymied at the last minute by tourism bureaucrats,” he says.
“So I looked for alternatives. Friends said you have to come and have a look at these roads.
“They are amazing. So I thought we’d give it a shot here.”
The SSC TT plan follows the Lions Road TT event on the Queensland/NSW border in 2014 and 2015.
However, the Lions TT was never a race, only untimed rides over a closed section of the Lions Rd. The rides were cancelled after crashes on the second day in the inaugural year and axed from the schedule last year.
There is no word yet from organisers about a 2016 Lions TT and Kyogle Council executive manager Graham Kennett says they are still awaiting an event plan.
David says his concept will be much more professional than the Lions TT.
“I didn’t think much of the Lions TT concept. It seemed contradictory to have a time trial but adhering to the speed limits. If you are going to do an event like this you have to have all bases covered.”
He says the SSC TT will employ world’s best practices in event management and hold meetings with all stakeholders including police, ambulance, rural fire brigade, Main Roads, Queensland Tourism, and even state forests officials.
The SSC TT will be funded by the sale of tickets and corporate sponsorships.
“It’s not coming out of my mortgage,” David says.
“I have a couple of interested investors already. Of course there is some financial risk but that is what being in business is all about.”
David says they will offer some prize money to attract top-class riders, but points out that there is no prize money at the IOM TT.
“A lot of those things are done because it’s there,” he says.
“Prize money is not why riders want to do it. Sponsors will want to do it because there is massive market potential here and it’s growing.”
David says the next step after community consultation is council approval, then he has events and infrastructure specialists “ready to go”.
“We’re not going to compromise this and we’ll push it out another year if needed,” he says.
“We only get one chance to make this a great event for Queensland and we have to do it properly.”
David says they will employ the “best of the best” to organise the event.
“My speciality is advertising and communications. I’m the CEO of the company and the ideas guy,” he says.
“But we will have some of the best in the country in their fields, such as George Spring who handled the on-court for Wimbledon and Steve Goss, Australia’s foremost safety and risk expert who’s worked on the Australian GP.”
David expects the event could attract more than 16,500 spectators and inject more than $8.5 million into the SSC economy.