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MotorWorld swaps Melbourne for Sydney

Motoring on: MotorWorld managing director Kris Willand said a packed motoring calendar in Melbourne and strong backing from the NSW government prompted the move to Sydney for the automotive festival.

Automotive festival MotorWorld finds more support and backing in New South Wales

20 Oct 2015

THE MotorWorld automotive festival has abandoned its inaugural event in Melbourne – originally scheduled for next month – and announced plans to relocate to Sydney next year after receiving funds from the NSW government.

Event management specialists Definitive Events announced in August last year that it would hold a new automotive festival at Melbourne’s Sandown raceway in November 2015, some eight months after a similar event run by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) was held at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

The new annual MotorWorld event in will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek from November 2016, and has the backing of the NSW government agency, Destination NSW. It will run over five days from November 30, and according to the organisers will attract tens of thousands of car and motorbike enthusiasts with “entertainment for the whole family”.

Speaking with GoAuto, MotorWorld Sydney managing director Kris Willand said Melbourne’s hectic automotive calendar that includes Motorclassica in October and, in March, the Australian Motoring Festival and Formula One Grand Prix, meant it made more sense to shift the event to Sydney.

“We have decided not to go ahead with the Melbourne one because of congestion in the market,” he said. “There are a lot of car-based events here in Victoria, and the industry has made the same comments, which led us to go and discuss the whole concept with New South Wales.

“We are not doing enough for New South Wales dealers and they are selling more cars, in total of course. And that discussion was with Destination NSW (DNSW).

And DNSW and the NSW government actually threw their marketing weight behind it and financial support as well. And that shifted the balance.”

80 center imageLeft: MotorWorld managing director Kris Willand.Mr Willand said discussions with car-makers were ongoing but there were no brands officially locked in at this stage given the contract was only signed with DNSW two weeks ago. However, he suggested there would be announcements about participating manufacturers in the coming weeks.

According to Mr Willand, the festival had not received financial support from relevant Victorian government agencies.

“We had original discussion with the Victorian Major Events Company and ...

what they said was they invested heavily in the Formula One and they are driving those and associated events,” he said.

“At the time – now probably about two years ago – there was no appetite to support that type of event. But the comment was that if it grows into something more significant then of course they would back it.

“The NSW government was very quick to respond and our timing was fortuitous because the Top Gear Festival, which to them was the marquee event at Sydney Motorsport Park, was cancelled only shortly after we started discussions with them. Being a state-owned venue there as well they of course were keen to do something out there in western Sydney and have a real marquee event.”

While Mr Willand said it was disappointing that the Melbourne show did not go ahead, he was positive about the new Sydney venture.

“In the end, this is not a motor show. It is an annual festival and we need the right location for it. Melbourne would have been fantastic, but Sydney is just as good I would say. They have a track that is recently renovated. A lot of car brands have their drive days there, many more than at Sandown. It is purpose-built for what we are looking for and it’s much longer track,” he said.

“We get more opportunities for test drives, we have opportunities to have the bikes separate and getting more people behind the wheel essentially, that’s what that venue affords. The venue throws its weight behind it because they have such a huge following. They have 300,000 people going through there every year. They are marketing to that whole group of automotive enthusiasts – that is another massive pro for the event over there.” Mr Willand did not rule out a return to Melbourne in the future, depending on the success of the Sydney-based event late next year.

“We have got a brilliant partnership, we have got all the right pieces in places and all our focus is on making Sydney a success and a good event in terms of event management,” he said. “A good festival needs a good home. We have got that, we known that and that’s what we are focusing on at the moment.”

When they were announced last year, MotorWorld and the Australian Motoring Festival were marketed as different beasts to the more traditional format of the Australian International Motor Show that was cancelled in early 2013 due to lack of support from car-makers.

While the Motorclassica event in Melbourne has proven successful with its mix of classic metal as well as premium car-makers showing their new wares, Mr Willand said MotorWorld would offer a diverse range of brands from mainstream offerings to high-end manufacturers.

“We are out there to be a platform for the whole industry, so we do include aftermarket and the lifestyle sector, which is obviously not part of Motorclassica,” he said. “While there may be classic cars it is mainly eye candy we are not competing with Motorclassica, even less so now it’s not in the same state.

“The focus is all about the range of brands and getting people into those vehicles in three different ways – we have a street drive, a track drive and a four-wheel-drive track. We want the family sedan there just as much as we want the exotic car there.”

Mr Willand was cautious not to specify a target for attendance numbers, but said it would be similar to other events held at the Western Sydney venue.

“The numbers we are looking at are obviously smaller than the lowest motor show numbers have ever been and are modelled on similar events at Motorsport Park.

Because there will be a lot of interstate visitors but mainly it will be NSW visitors so we are modelling it on the Top Gear Festival or the Ferrari Speed Days or things that have a smaller offering. Their daily visitation is a good guide for us and that’s what we are modelling the whole event on.”

Mr Willand acknowledged that it may take time to build awareness for the festival, and said the organisers had signed a three-year contract with options to extend.

He said that there were a number of enquiries from potential sponsors in the aftermarket industry as well as the higher education sector.

“We have had positive responses from private and tertiary education institutions who want to sponsor the event and are looking to source good young talent for the automotive industry. We are hoping to send a very positive message about the changing landscape of the Australian automotive industry.”

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