Race to the Sky could return

Multiple winner Monster Tajima (Japan) powers his 950hp Suzuki up the Race to the Sky course in 2007. Photo from ODT files.
Multiple winner Monster Tajima (Japan) powers his 950hp Suzuki up the Race to the Sky course in 2007. Photo from ODT files.
The once highly popular Cardrona Valley international Race to the Sky might be revived after a seven-year hiatus.

Highland Motorsport Park manager Mike Sentch confirmed to the Otago Daily Times last night he had spent the last month investigating the idea and the park would ''love to run it'' again.

However, he cautioned he still had to approach many of those who might be affected by the running of the race Mr Sentch said many things had changed since the event was last held in 2007, including many of the neighbours of the 15km course.

The road runs from the floor of the Cardrona Valley to the Snow Farm on the Pisa Range. It was now owned by just two organisations.

The race was founded in 1998 by Grant Aitken, of Queenstown, and the ODT reported in 2008 he surrendered his rights to host the event past 2008 citing access permission problems.

Mr Sentch said he had discussed the race proposal with some landowners who were ''very positive'' and with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which was ''fairly enthusiastic'' and had sent him away with a list of tasks to complete.

He expected it would take him about a month to ''get his head around'' the resource consent process.

His next step would be to approach the people who might be affected by the race. After that, he would have a ''far better idea of where we stand''.

He had deliberately remained low-key about the proposal before those visits to avoid the proposal's ''stalling'' at an early stage.

Mr Sentch said for the Cromwell-based Highlands organisation to run the race again it ''has got to turn a dollar'', although ''fundamentally it looks OK''.

''We set our standards very, very high. We want to do it to a world standard.''

The ODT reported attempts in 2008 to revive the race failed because of a combination of costly and ''unbelievable'' red tape requirements, road and land access issues, resource consent costs, and personality clashes.

If the event was revived, Mr Sentch was uncertain if it would continue to be held at Easter, because of the growth in other events at that time.

- mark.price@odt.co.nz