Can Supercars ‘Big Bash’ races be a success?

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By , Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    Such has been the success of the Twenty20 format in cricket and the Big Bash domestic competition, that it is a formula that Supercars is looking pursue for the future.

    The Australian touring car series is set to have a trial under lights at Sydney Motorsport Park, as it investigates the prospect of staging fast-paced and fan-friendly Big Bash style racing for 2018.

    “We want to create something unique and we are always looking to innovate and grow the sport,” stated Supercars CEO James Warburton when speaking of the upcoming test.

    “The runaway success of the Big Bash has shown people are looking for new, short forms of sporting entertainment, without necessarily taking away the traditions of the sport.

    “Cricket has suddenly found a whole new audience and, importantly, encouraged kids to grab a bat and a ball. And the Big Bash lives comfortably within the traditional fabric of the game.

    “It (a Supercars ‘Big Bash’) will be a maximum of a three-hour event in 2018, it will count for championship points and most likely we will be looking to run the event on a Thursday night

    “At this stage, it’s all conceptual but if the test is successful we want it in the schedule for 2018 and beyond.”

    Never before has such a proposal has been brought forward in any motorsport, with it going against the grain of a traditional weekend-long race meeting. Though with Supercars struggling to attract casual viewers, a Big Bash style event could be what brings on board new fans.

    Non-race fans will profess the all-day aspect of motorsport is what fails to keep their attention and the same sentiment would have been applied to Test cricket when looking at the advent of Big Bash – as it struggles to draw in large crowds in comparison.

    Condensing a race weekend into the space of three hours and staging it during the evening, would theoretically win over the crowds who don’t view entire weekends and those who are unavailable to be trackside or view on television during the day.

    What has been a winner for the Big Bash also, has been the fact that during the Australian summer it is on TV every night and its four-hour slot, is one to not monotonise proceedings.

    While logistically it would be impossible for Supercars to be race on multiple occasions during the week, the idea still of having prime-time racing is desirable – with the notion of having these Big Bash races scattered throughout the championship season.

    Supercars has traditionally been a simple touring car category to get to grips with, having none of the complex technology seen in Germany’s DTM. Thunderous engines, flames spitting from the exhausts and race cars that are not dissimilar to the sedans driven on the road, are the category’s drawcard.

    The grid too, is bustling with marquee drivers, who have the potential to captivate audiences in the same manner as Big Bash stars such as Chris Lynn, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell.

    It leaves the door open as well, for wildcards to be included for the event, as Supercars has introduced for 2017 with Super2 drivers and teams stepping up to the main game for select events.

    Especially attractive would be drawing international drivers, in the same vein as Big Bash’s heavyweight imports in Dwayne Bravo, Stuart Broad and Brendon McCullum.

    What remains questionable however, is how the format of the event will be structured and whether multiple outings can be afforded throughout the Supercars season. It is difficult to critique this left-field pursuit, without first seeing how it eventuates.

    As long as it is not at the detriment of the season-long championship either, which is still a key platform for the traditionalist fans.

    If anything, Warburton and co should be commended for this decision to investigate the concept. It could very much lead to a global revolution for motorsport, where other renowned categories could in time, look to adopt this formula.