Waimate 50 provides $1m boost to region

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A bigger and better Waimate 50 GT Series will contribute about $1m to the South Canterbury and North Otago economies this year, says organiser Rob Aikman.

Mr Aikman and a small committee are in the process of finalising plans for their annual motorsport event, being held in Waimate at Labour Weekend, October 25 and 26. The event is sponsored by McKeown Petroleum.

This year, the committee will have a clearer idea of the event’s positive financial impact after securing a three-year contract with marketing company, Ticketdirect.

“We want to capture enough data so we can make presentations and try to secure the future of the event,” Mr Aikman said.

“We want to be able to say, ‘this is what it is worth.'”

The massive logistical event is organised on a budget of $150,000 and “a lot of goodwill” and uses the services of Waimate contractors and businesses where possible.

The arguable highlight of this year’s event is the re-introduction of multiple car races, which is in the final stages of getting approval from Motorsport New Zealand.

Mr Aikman said he was feeling confident they could run the races in the manner the authority required.

“We’ve got through all the hoops that were necessary and couldn’t see why we couldn’t run it. We’ve met all the criteria.

“Our total focus is to get back to racing.”

The committee plans to run four races (two Saturday and two Sunday) with fields of 20 cars each.

The Waimate 50 comprises several events, including the Waimate Pharmacy 4km Hill Climb, McKeown Petroleum Street Attack (a circuit sprint) and a Super Special Stage for those entered in the three part GT series.

A new addition to the programme is the Makihikihi Fries Rally Sprint, which is an 8.5km time sprint being held near the Waihao Forks Hotel.

With the popular motorsport event in its fifth year, Mr Aikman said it was time to do something a bit more special.

“We thought this year was a good time to change, to set the platform for following years.

“We still have concerns about the future of the event and to give it a future, we need some better support.

“It really comes down to what this event means to the town.”

Other changes for this year include building a bigger track,constructing a second overbridge for visitors and cancelling the street party.

By LINDA MCCARTHY

PHOTO: LINDA MCCARTHY – McKeown Petroleum Waimate 50 GT Series organiser, Rob Aikman, at his garage in Waimate.