Simon Chapman, SPEEDCAFE, April 4 2020: The Australian Racing Drivers’ Club has confirmed permanent light towers will begin being erected at Sydney Motorsport Park on Monday.
Next week’s install is the final stage in a five-year-long project led by the Australian Racing Drivers’ Club (ARDC) and its CEO Glenn Matthews.
In total 138 towers will be installed around the circuit with over 860 light fittings.
The circuit will be bathed by LED lights with those on the front straight capable of 800lux while the rest of the circuit will have a minimum of 400lux.
It’s a significant step up from the temporary lights seen in the inaugural Sydney SuperNight, which had lights only capable of 150lux.
The light specification has been chosen to find a balance between adequately lighting the circuit and for television production for slow-motion capture.
“It won’t look like Singapore, it’ll still look like a night race,” Matthews told Speedcafe.com.
“We didn’t want to do it at 1200lux or 1400lux so that it looks like day time, that’s not the purpose of it.
“The technology is fantastic because down the main part of the straight we’re going to have coloured lights as well.
“We can do themed introductions. We can even follow the lead car across the line using coloured lights coming down the straight.
“It’s pretty impressive stuff.”
Advancements in LED technology mean the project is more financially viable than it was five years ago when the idea was first mooted.
Not only are the lights themselves cheaper, but the running cost is significantly lower too.
Matthews estimates the cost will be in the hundreds of dollars per hour, not the thousands that they would have been five years ago.
“Five years ago the cost just to do the North Circuit (Druitt Circuit) was $17 million,” said Matthews.
“Today, with the improvements in technology with LED lighting we’re doing all the circuit for $16 million, and that includes a total fibre optic backbone.
“As time went by and as technology improved, the cost has come down significantly.”
The addition of lights to the circuit was designed to create a motor racing event in the image of cricket’s successful Twenty20 format with the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Supercars has since gone on to run a night event in Perth last year and has earmarked the Gold Coast to follow suit this year.
“I met with James Warburton (former Supercars CEO) four years ago and said in terms of getting crowds in Sydney for sport is always a challenge,” said Matthews.
“We talked about doing a night race, keeping it short and sharp and mixing it up.
“Finally, two years ago we decided to put together an event with temporary lights to show everybody that this can be good.
“Under temporary lights, it was an outstanding success. It got voted by the fans number one Supercars event of the year that year.
“The crowds we had were fantastic, not just in numbers, but it was a different crowd. What we noticed that day is that you have all your die-hard fans that are there at sparrows fart.
“But what we had was we had our biggest influx of people late in the afternoon. They were families and young people. They were a different crowd out for a different event.
“Having that trial run helped in the decision making for the Government to fund the project.”
Sydney Motorsport Park is set to host the first night race under the new lighting fixtures later this year over August 28-30.