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Denyer recalls V8 Ute Racing Series demise

MOTORSPORT administrator Craig Denyer has explained how an ultimately unsuccessful proposal was put forward to keep Australian ute racing away from the diesel path.

The V8 Ute Racing Series was a popular support category from 2001 to 2017 before being replaced by the SuperUte concept in 2018.

That involved moving away from the familiar Falcon and Commodore models in favour of production-based dual-cabs.

The diesel-powered initiative struggled to gain traction with fans and was canned after two years, eventually succeeded by the current V8 SuperUte Series in 2021 – which is still somewhat maligned in terms of public opinion.

Talking on this week’s edition of the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco, Denyer explained how the original V8 Ute era wound up – and revealed the alternative proposal which had been overlooked.

“This goes back to Motorsport Australia not really understanding what the market at that time was about, in terms of what funded a support category and how all of the support category model worked,” he said.

“Basically with the demise of Ford and Holden from a manufacturing point of view, we were looking at what were the options beyond that.

“We put a concept together to both Supercars and to Motorsport Australia at the time about the evolution of the category into space-frame V8, I guess kind of like a NASCAR truck but not that far, still pretty much a crate motor, that kind of stuff.

“But it had to evolve into something. Motorsport Australia and John Casey, I think it was at Supercars at the time, thought that production diesel utes were where it should go because this is where the market is going.

“We had significant debate with them over that for a number of months and in the end when it was quite clear that they weren’t prepared to move on that, we said ‘well that’s not a commercial deal, that can’t survive commercially.

“A) because no one wants to race a diesel ute and B) the punters don’t want to see a diesel ute race and C) there’s not going to be enough commercial support to make the series survive, it’s simply not going to be good enough’.

“So we decided to walk away from it. We ultimately handed the category management agreement for the V8 Ute Series, we wound the company up and handed the CMA to Supercars: ‘if that’s what you want, you run it’.

“And we know how successful that was.”

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