Supercars has confirmed it will make its return to New Zealand in 2024 after the country missed out on a spot on the 2023 calendar following the somewhat sudden closure of Pukekohe Park Raceway.
With Taupo being located in the Waikato region rather than that of Auckland, as Pukekohe is, the national government has stepped in to back the event under a three-year contract.
“It is a multi-year deal, so we've got a good commitment there,” Howard told Speedcafe.
“We've got really good support, too, from the Taupo region and the mayor and the council.
“Then, obviously, racing at a Tony Quinn-owned circuit, Tony does a good job of everything he does, and I think he's got that venue really looking good.
“It's more of a destination event. It's basically three hours from Auckland and three hours from Wellington, so it's pretty central.
“But, I think it's going to be very strong for tourism. It's a really nice venue, and a beautiful place to go racing, so we're really looking forward to it.”
A date for the 2024 Taupo event is yet to be announced, with Howard explaining that timing it to optimise the economic return is a key consideration.
“We're working really closely with [government] and, as we're putting the final pieces into our calendar, this has been a major key to that,” he said.
“It's very important for the government to make sure that we've got the event at the right time.
“It's a very tourist-driven area, and to really support and drive the economic results for a government and a region to back you to go there, so we're just working through that as we speak.”
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas remarked, “Attracting a premium event like Supercars to the Taupō District further cements our reputation as the events capital of New Zealand.
“Our central location means people will come from all over the country and we are looking forward to making the most of it.
“We expect a lot of visitors to our town and our district; and we know they'll receive a warm Taupo welcome.”
The development is likely to be well-received among the substantial number of Kiwi drivers and fans of Supercars.
“We've had a very long association with racing in New Zealand,” noted Howard.
“We've got some fantastic Kiwi drivers in our championship and we've got a great fanbase over there; very passionate and very loyal.
“We've worked really hard to get New Zealand back on the on the calendar.
“Obviously, we were taken a bit by surprise with Puke closing down, but we've worked extremely closely with the central government [on a return].”
Additional reporting: Mark Fogarty