AUSTRALIAN Racing Drivers Club CEO Glenn Matthews has clarified the club’s position on why it isn’t using the Muscle Car Masters banner at Sydney Motorsport Park for its Father’s Day event this year and admits it may never return as a stand-alone event again in the future.
The ARDC has elected to run an ‘ARDC Super 70’ event this Father’s Day in early September as a motorsport festival to celebrate the club’s 70th anniversary this year.
V8 Sleuth reported late last month that the traditional Australian Muscle Car Masters event and banner had been dumped for this September.
As Matthews told V8 Sleuth late last week, a range of banner-head categories that have traditionally made up the event were unavailable this year and the club felt the event didn’t have enough on-track elements to run an event worthy of being held under the Muscle Car Masters banner.
“When we looked at this year’s event, we had a couple of key categories that couldn’t come,” he said.
“A field of 23 Heritage Touring Cars is committed to Baskerville in Tasmania and Touring Car Masters is committed to their existing calendar, so that’s two pretty important categories that can’t be there.
“We thought that if we branded our event as Muscle Car Masters for this year that people would be disappointed if those categories were not there.
“We value the Muscle Car Masters so much and the brand and that’s why we decided to rebrand the event this year. If we kept calling it Muscle Car Masters and couldn’t deliver it and try to evolve it, then it’s not really the Muscle Car Masters. That’s why we rebranded (in previous years) to the Sydney MasterBlast featuring the Muscle Car Masters.
“The Sydney MasterBlast was about still celebrating the muscle cars and when they’re there at a level we’re happy with, we can still incorporate the ‘Muscle Car Masters’ branding as part of that. That was the strategy of the MasterBlast.
“We’ve been so proud of that Muscle Car Masters brand over the years that we don’t want to diminish that brand.
“If we don’t have a field of categories that we think lives up to the expectation then we’re not going to use it.”
However, Matthews admits the possibility of Muscle Car Masters standing on its own two feet as its own event under its own banner again appears unlikely.
“I’m just not too sure we’d ever have Muscle Car Masters standing on its own again,” he said.
“I’m not sure we can put that content of the racing categories (that it used to have) back together again.
“We’d love to have TCM there but they’re part of a bigger group and much more difficult to get them to come to our race meeting as they’re fitting in with their own calendar of races.”
Matthews says the event’s roaring success also hurt in in a way.
“Muscle Car Masters has suffered from its own success,” he said.
“It began with people bringing cars to display and legendary drivers coming along, but as it became more successful people wanted to start charging money. We did pay for special cars to come sometimes, but then everyone wanted to be paid to do everything and we found both cars and people were priced out of coming to the event.
“The ARDC will continue to promote our own event around that time of year. We invented Muscle Car Masters and it’s our aim to continue to be successful and continue to appeal to the motorsport community and to our members. With that, we need to evolve and keep re-inventing.
“The facts are that the crowds were declining in the old format of Muscle Car Masters. Some of the stars who used to come had got older, some had passed away, and they had previously been great drawcards. I love reminiscing too, but we do have to re-invent ourselves all the time.
“Going into the future, the same rule applies. We want to celebrate and recognise the importance of our history but we’re also looking forward. The ARDC today has over 4000 members and, while it’s great to celebrate our past, we are going to move with the times and provide things for all parts of our membership.
“This year we’re getting back to the theme of car displays. We’ve already reached out and 220 clubs have been invited to a massive display of key cars from the 1950s all the way to the 2020s. There’s day racing, a night-time Tuned meet and some drifting that’s a drawcard for our younger fans, and a broad range of entertainment, including for the first time a big drone light show.”
The ARDC Super 70 event will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park on September 3-4.