Touring car legend John Bowe says he has joined the chorus of Novocastrians suffering “navigating and parking anxiety” in the inner-city.
Bowe, the 1995 Australian touring car champion and two-time Bathurst 1000 winner, described parking and traffic at the Newcastle 500 as the “worst I have ever experienced in over 40 years of motorsport”.
The 64-year-old, who is racing in the Touring Car Masters category in Newcastle, took to Facebook on Saturday to vent his frustration after having to use a parking station on Wharf Road and walk to the track.
“That’s one of the reasons Touring Car Masters won’t be back. They make it way too difficult for the competitors!!” he wrote.
“Those responsible need to take a good long hard look at themselves.”
The TCM category said last month that it would not stop in Newcastle in 2019.
Series organiser Tony Hunter said on Sunday that it was “sad” the class would not fit into the Newcastle 500 program next year.
“We’d like to be here, unfortunately, the circumstances around the Supercars meet are prohibitive of us being here in 2019,” he said. “We will be, however, looking towards returning in 2020.”
Bowe’s criticisms echo the everyday experiences of some Novocastrians trying to park in the inner-city.
“You guys put up with it for a weekend, we put up with it daily!” one local responded on Facebook.
Fans appeared to be moving in and out of the race precinct smoothly on public transport, but Bowe told the Herald on Sunday that he had difficulty navigating around the city due to road closures.
Most streets in the CBD are clearways during the Supercars weekend, and the Herald has seen several vehicles being towed.
“It’s fantastic that the event is here. I don’t want to knock the event,” Bowe said.
“But, as a category, we need somewhere to park. We’re treated, I think, contemptuously considering we provide part of the entertainment.”
- READ MORE: Newcastle 500 Supercars news
“Is that a Supercars issue, a council issue, road traffic management? I don’t know, but it pisses everybody off.
“If it [the Facebook post] came across the wrong way, I want to apologise, but, really, it’s the most regulated race, traffic flow, parking stuff we’ve ever been to, and I don’t know why. I’m just asking the question.”
He said Supercars should treat the TCM teams with “more respect” given they pay the organisers to race.
“All the categories pay Supercars to turn up, so we don’t get paid. Supercars gets paid, and we pay Supercars as well.
“We don’t think we’re big time or anything; we love coming because the people love us being here.”
The TCM team garages are on the platform at the newly renovated Newcastle Station.
“Getting from my hotel, using Google Maps, turning down streets that are blocked, and they changed from Friday to Saturday,” Bowe said.
“I’ve got this new condition called navigating and parking anxiety.
“I was so relieved to find that parking station. I would have kissed the bloke on the gate except they don’t have one any more.
“Even the Gold Coast, which is a nightmare, is not as hard as this.”
On a more positive note, Bowe said he enjoyed driving on the tight street circuit.
“The track is one of the most challenging tracks in the country to drive on. It is limited in its passing, but it is challenging.
“If you like hard, it’s hard, unforgiving, but racing shouldn’t be about having padded walls and lots of run-off.”
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