Supercars safety debate heats up

Supercars have defended the safety of their events as Newcastle residents call for their round to be axed in the wake of a horror crash at the Sandown 500.

John Iafolla was lucky to walk away when his car flipped multiple times and landed on a ute and resulted in the Toyota 86 race at Sandown 10 days ago being abandoned.

The 2019 Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin wrote off his Ford Mustang in a wild crash at the Gold Coast 600 last month which saw a shock absorber fly onto a spectators’ trackside balcony.

The accident is being investigated by Supercars.

The Newcastle East Residents Group (NERG) have renewed their safety concerns amid fears the track is too close to homes and poses a serious risk.

“(Iafolla) is the same guy who crashed in Zaara Street and ended under my balcony in Scott St, while throwing debris over the fence into Zaara Street last year,” one resident said.

“What do they say, third time proves it? And the third time is Newcastle.”

NERG spokesperson Chris Everingham wants safety fences raised and claims 50 per cent of the circuit is lined by homes with some balconies just “two metres” from the track.

“The big problem is international safety standards don’t apply to temporary events. It’s astonishing but nobody cares,” Everingham said.

“Everyone just has their fingers crossed and is hoping against hope that nothing happens.

“They must end the race, they shouldn’t be having these races in medium-density streets. It’s absolutely crazy.”

Supercars event manager Kurt Sakzewski said all tracks are certified and they’ve worked closely with the Newcastle community since the event started in 2017.

“The safety of the fans, drivers, teams, marshals and others working around the circuit is paramount,” Sakzewski said.

“The Newcastle community has embraced the event over its first two years as it highlighted to over 230 million homes across 93 countries some of the city’s best landmarks.”

Sakzewski said the Newcastle event is forecast to inject almost $60 million in into the region’s economy in its first five years and attract 80,000 visitors.

Supercars veteran Mark Winterbottom said he loves racing in the heart of Newcastle and that organisers were never going to please everyone.

“You get 10 people who complain and then you get 180,000 people who think it’s the best race of the year, so it’s tough,” Winterbottom said.

“But Supercars do a good job of trying to accommodate everyone. The vibe is good, everyone loves it and the crowds are huge.”

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