Sydney Thousand close to being reborn

Could bike racing return to the SCG?

Could bike racing return to the SCG? (Image credit: John Scott)

By John Stevenson

Sydney race promoter John Scott is getting closer to his dream or resurrecting the Sydney 1000 Thousand track carnival - and it's even possible that it might one day return to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Last held in the 1980s, the Sydney Thousand gets its name from the £1000 prize purse offered in the original event in 1903, when bike racing was big enough to attract 54,000 people to watch, and the venue was the SCG because nowhere else was large enough to accommodate the huge demand.

Scott has been working for the last several weeks on lining up sponsors from the bike industry to support the resurrection of the Sydney Thousand. He was also responsible for reviving the race in 1976, when it was held at Camperdown Velodrome for an eight year run. A date some time in November has been penciled in for the event, and Scott hopes to have at least a $10,000 purse but says, "I'm shooting for $20,000."

All that's now needed is the money, and Scott seems confident it will come. "Negotiations are well advanced with sponsors from the bike industry," Scott told Cyclingnews. "The bike industry hasn't been able to see the value in supporting road and track racing - we're trying to show them that value."

And Scott's thinking further ahead than November. He's fond of jokingly quoting Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" comment, and his dream is to bring the Sydney Thousand back to the Sydney Cricket Ground, a venue that is to Sydney what Wrigley Field is to Chicago or Wembley Stadium to London. There was a time when many Australian sports ground had concrete track round the perimeter, and examples still exist in Tasmania where the tracks used for the Christmas carnivals run round grounds used for Australian rules football among other sports. A concrete or tarmac track replacing the hallowed turf of the SCG is not going to happen, but a temporary banked wooden track is possible, says Scott.

The SCG authorities are not opposed to the idea in principal, he says, but the stumbling block would, as always, be money. A temporary track would cost about $120,000 to build and dismantle.

Nevertheless, Scott believes a well-promoted carnival at the SCG could attract 15-20,000 spectators. "People from the eastern suburbs don't want to travel out to the [Dunc Grey Velodrome]" he says, citing a widely-held belief that the location of Sydney's Olympic velodrome in the city's Western suburbs deters people from attending track events there. But hold a high-quality race close to home and, to quote another famous line about dreams, if you build it they will come.

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