The man who spent more than $100 million to give South Australia a world-class motorsport facility says he is the victim of a Supercars sell-out.
The Bend has lost its slot on the revised 2020 championship calendar and Sam Shahin is not happy.
“It’s a body blow. But we’ve copped a few blows and thrown a few punches,” Shahin tells Race News.
“It is what it is. I set out out to build The Bend as the premier motorsport facility in Australia. The logic follows that the premier facilities ought to be on the promotion bill of the premier events.
“Did I build the facility with the expectation that it will hold a Supercars event every year? Absolutely.”
Shahin was not prepared to talk to Race News in the lead-up to the announcement of the calendar, and still refuses to talk about rumours of legal action, but the loss of his championship position has him talking and also triggered an open letter from the owner of The Bend.
“Supercars do what’s best for Supercars. We have endeavoured for years to satisfy the great appetite for motorsport in SA. We’ve answered the calls with the best motorsport facility in the world but it seems the power of the Eastern States yet again wins the day, and SA misses out,” Shahin says.
“Supercars have reshuffled the calendar to satisfy their stakeholders and cut costs for teams. Unfortunately, South Australia has missed out which is devastating for South Australia, motorsport fans, The Bend and our partners.
“I am greatly disappointed for the greater public of South Australia that have been sold out, sold short of the wonderful spectacle that was to unfold in September.”
The loss of the championship round comes despite The Bend hosting this year’s pre-season Supercars test in the week before the Adelaide 500.
The revised calendar also marks a return to Sandown, in its traditional place as the curtain-raiser for the Bathurst 1000.
While obviously angry, Shahin is already moving on refunds and to protect relations with backers.
“It will take a little bit of time to work through what it means commercially for all stakeholders. Event ticket holders will be contacted by Ticketek on how to receive a full refund. The Bend will contact all members and corporate partners regarding next steps.”
Despite the hit to the 2020 program, Shahin is still bullish about the future and The Bend’s part on future Supercars events.
“I set out to build The Bend as the premier motorsport facility in Australia. I have to keep reminding myself not to feel reserved about shouting that out loud from the rooftops. The accolades internationally have spoken volumes for the facility,” he tells Race News.
“I would like to think that the circumstances of 2020 are extraordinary, and no-one can doubt that. We have an agreement with Supercars for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. My expectation is absolute that Supercars will honour that agreement in ’21 and ’22.”