Caption: Dr Matthew Gray tells a public meeting at Maleny that the Sunshine Coast International TT motorcycle event, proposed for December 2017, would “shut down” the town and impact negatively on businesses and residents. Photo: Richard Bruinsma
By Richard Bruinsma
Community consultations are underway for a proposal to host a high-speed international motorcycle time trial event on the picturesque country roads around Maleny.
The potential death of riders during such an event, along with noise, and inconvenience to residents along the circuit, local residents and businesses, are shaping as the major community concerns.
The proposed Sunshine Coast International TT, similar in style to the captivating and at-times chilling Isle of Man TT, would reportedly generate a billion TV viewers for the area and financial spin-offs for business and tourism.
Caption: David Rollins
“For one week in the year, Maleny will be the centre of the world, and the money that floods into the community will be phenomenal,” David Rollins, CEO of Inside Line Events International, which is proposing the local TT, said.
He added it would bring an estimated $8-million dollars to the community in its first year, 2017, with that amount expected to increase every subsequent year.
While there are no arguments as to the beauty of local winding roads, mountain ridges, and green rolling fields as an ideal location for a world class and spectacular TT event, unease was expressed at two public meetings this week over the road closures and impact on a region noted for its peacefulness and quiet.
Dr Matthew Gray told those at one meeting that the road closures would effectively “shut down” the town and impact negatively on businesses and residents.
“It doesn’t matter that they say it’s going to bring in $8m, it’s peak tourism time and it’s going to shut the whole town,” Dr Gray said.
However, another resident, business owner John Turner said, for the sake of four days of inconvenience, the event was vital to assist an otherwise struggling hinterland economy.
“We’ve had the Upfront Club closed, and it’s a sign of the times that things are difficult and this would be a boom to the area,” Mr Turner said.
Local Division 5 councillor Jenny McKay said her immediate concern was of the impact of any such proposed event on residents, who she said should be fully briefed.
She said any such application would need to be fully assessed by the Sunshine Coast Events Board and then a decision made by Council.
Mr Rollins said the event would only include “the world’s top riders”.
“This is not open to B and C class riders – only to the cream of the crop,” Mr Rollins said.
“Safety is our primary concern, we’re going to have a day of untimed practice, where the riders can get to know the roads.
Unlike the Isle of Man TT, the Sunshine Coast International TT circuit would not be opened to amateurs.
“That’s ridiculous and won’t be happening.”
Caption: David Rollins speaks to around 110 people – mainly residents who live along the proposed circuit for the motorcycle event – at the first community meeting this week. Photo: Richard Bruinsma
Cr Greg Rogerson acknowledged the TT was an exciting but high-speed, high risk motorsport.
“This could be the biggest event within five years in Australia,” Cr Rogerson said.
“The bikes start at 30-second intervals – it’s a race against the clock – they can catch each other, but it’s not as if you’re going to have 30 bikes descending on the one corner at the same time.
“Just as people choose to do skydiving, or boxing, any other sport, these people choose to do this – that’s how they get their adrenaline – and we should recognise that fact.”
It is proposed the Sunshine Coast International TT would use Maleny State High School as the marshalling, scrutineering and pit area, with the actual 47km course to include Bunya Street, Tallowwood Street, Centenary Drive, Maleny-Stanley River Road, Peachester Road, Bald Knob Road, Landsborough-Maleny Road including through “the icebox”, and back along McCarthy Road past Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.
The proposed course, which has 400 corners, would still need a full inspection and safety audit.
The four-day TT would be held in the December school holidays – starting next year – and include one day each for untimed practice, practice, qualifying and racing. The affected roads would be closed from 8am to 4pm on those days.
The event would have four classes, including one for sidecars. There will be a maximum 20 riders each class. It’s proposed that the senior class would involve five laps of the circuit with lesser classes three laps.
Mr Rollins said, if the event went ahead, the area could expect improvements to infrastructure, road surfaces and permanent improvement to internet services.
Sunshine Coast cameraman/producer Justin Grover, who covers motorcycling around Australia through his business www.just2wheelz.com said the event would be “awesome” but added the risk of deaths would make it difficult for Council to give approval.
“It’d be absolutely fantastic, you’d be surprised how many bikers you’d get here, flying in from overseas, from Melbourne and Sydney,” he said.
“It’d probably be the biggest event ever to happen in Queensland.”
But with five deaths recorded at the 2016 Isle of Man TT, he believed the local event would be unlikely to go ahead.
“It’d be super brave for any council to go near it.”
The next season of Mr Grover’s production, Just Two Wheels TV, airs on Seven Mate on Saturday mornings from July 2.
For an idea of what the Sunshine Coast TT would entail, visit YouTube and search “Isle of Man TT Greatest Show on Earth”.
Inside Line Events International is responsible for bringing Tough Mudder to Australia and is involved with Wimbledon Tennis.
Depending on internet speeds, the Sunshine Coast TT could see phone apps for ticketholders that allowed them access to live streaming video of the race.
Email comments about the proposed event to firstname.lastname@example.org