What Does It Cost To Attend Every Supercars Round?

by Dec 28, 2023

Over the course of the year, I tend to get a lot of questions about what it costs to travel around the country to work at every Repco Supercars Championship round. And I don’t have an educated answer, so I usually say a lot.

That answer usually prompts a quick follow-up question about who covers those costs. So, to give a more factual answer, I dived back into my bookkeeping software and crunched the numbers of what it cost me to attend every round of the Supercars Championship in 2023 and how those costs were covered.

Let’s take a look:

Who Covers The Costs

To answer the biggest question, who covers the costs of attending each Supercars round? Well, the short answer is me. As a freelance photographer, ultimately, the cost to attend each event comes out of my own pocket.

So, as you can imagine, I need to ensure that I secure enough work and charge my customers enough to not only cover the costs of attending each round but also so I can pay myself a wage each and every week, even when there aren’t racing events on.

Obviously, the second part of that equation doesn’t solely rely on the work I do at Supercars events. I work roughly 30 motorsport events each year, and the Supercars schedule only usually accounts for half of that, but it is a consideration when reviewing my prices each year.

How Do I Minimise My Costs

Now that we’ve established that the cost of travelling to Supercars events (and all the other events I cover throughout the year) is an expense that I wear. How do I try to minimise these costs? Actually, I’ve written a whole post about that very thing. Check it out here.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when travelling to motorsport events, especially the big events, is that you are always going to be paying premium prices even if you try to mitigate your expenses.

What Does It Cost

For context, I’m currently based in New South Wales, so all these costs are associated with travelling from Newcastle/Sydney.

I’m also only going to break down the costs of getting to each venue. I have a media pass, so I don’t need tickets for each race and any other expenses I incur while attending an event, like food, etc, are purely down to personal preference, so I’m not going to include those either.

Supercars Test – Sydney Motorsport Park – New South Wales

Supercars Test - Sydney Motorsport Park

For 2023, the Supercars schedule kicked off with an official test day event at Sydney Motorsport Park. Luckily for me, that’s a reasonably local event, so I simply drive down to the track for the day. Normally, that’s about half a tank of fuel for the return trip, but for this test day in particular, I had to continue on to Sydney Airport that evening to fly down to Launceston because the Speed Series opening round at Symmons Plains commenced the next day.

Transport – $40

Total: $40

Round 1 – Newcastle Street Circuit – New South Wales

Round 1 - Newcastle Street Circuit

I’ve been fortunate in recent years to have a home event on the Supercars calendar, the Newcastle Street Circuit event. Luckily for 2023, it was the season opener.

That said, street circuit events aren’t the most practical to commute to and from. In fact, to drive to the parking for the Newcastle event and catch the ferry back to the track would have taken 30 minutes longer each way than driving directly to the track. Just due to my location, public transport wasn’t a practical solution either, and parking in Newcastle is both limited and expensive over the course of the weekend. So it was actually cheaper and much more convenient to stay in a hotel adjacent to the circuit.

Fortunately, I had a credit with one of the local hotels after the 2020 race was cancelled. So, technically, this one didn’t actually cost me anything this year. But it did come out of my pocket at some point, so here are the costs.

Accommodation – $588

Total: $588

Round 2 – Australian Grand Prix Melbourne – Melbourne, Victoria

Round 2 - Australian Grand Prix Melbourne

The first flyaway race of the Supercars calendar was an expensive one—the Australian Grand Prix.

Given the event’s popularity and the sheer volume of people travelling to Melbourne for the race both locally and internationally, especially this year (I recall it was sold out for three days). It’s always extremely expensive to travel to the Grand Prix. Luckily, I managed to lock in accommodation well before the date of 2023 was locked in and confirmed, so I managed to save money that way. Also, to reduce the costs of my flights, I flew in a day earlier and left a day later than I really needed to, which saved me a few hundred dollars on the flights.

One of the best parts of Formula 1 in Melbourne is that the trams to and from Albert Park are included with your ticket (even if you have a media pass), so you can stay anywhere within the city and still get to the track quite easily. So, instead of renting a car, I took the Skybus from the airport to the city and used the trams each day to get to the track.

That all said, it’s also one of the most challenging events to make money at. With three international categories on the schedule now and only two local ones, customers are quite limited for the Grand Prix. The trade-off is covering the pinnacle of the sport.

Flights – $382

Accommodation – $914

Skybus – $36

Total: $1332

Round 3 – Barbabgallo Raceway – Perth, Western Australia

Round 3 - Barbabgallo Raceway

All the way across the other side of the country, these longer-haul fly-away events are some of my favourites to cover. Unlike the tracks on the east coast of Australia that I visit a couple of times a year, visiting Barbagallo Raceway (or CARCO Raceway – whatever it’s officially called now) is usually only a one-off for the year with Supercars.

That said, they are also some of the most expensive. Flights across the country are never cheap. On the fortunate side, usually, three national-level support categories also follow Supercars across the country for the round, as they did this year, so there are opportunities to pick up enough work to balance everything out.

Flights – $879

Accommodation – $720

Rental Car – $602

Total: $2201

Round 4 – Symmons Plains Raceway – Launceston, Tasmania

Round 4 - Symmons Plains Raceway

In terms of Australian cities, Launceston isn’t a particularly big one. So it doesn’t take much for everything to book out when Supercars heads to Tasmania for their annual visit. So I tend to book a couple of options well in advance of the calendar being locked in to ensure I don’t end up stuck either without accommodation or even a big accommodation bill.

That worked out in my favour in 2023, and I managed to snag a pretty good price accommodation, keeping my costs down for this one. Also, winter isn’t really an ideal time to head to Tasmania from a tourist perspective. Hence, the attendees tend to typically be locals, more so than interstate travellers, which helps keep the cost of flights down.

Flight – $479

Accommodation – $439

Rental Car – $409

Total: $1327

Round 5 – Hidden Valley Raceway – Darwin, Nothern Territory

Round 5 - Hidden Valley Raceway

Undoubtedly, the annual trip to Darwin for the round at Hidden Valley is always the most expensive. The middle of the year is an ideal time to visit the Northern Territory to escape the winter down south. Couple that with a Supercars event, and it’s the perfect excuse for many fans to head to the city. And I get that it’s up amongst my favourite events to travel to as well.

That said, while tourism is a big part of Darwin’s economy, the city really isn’t that big. Booking early is the only way to ensure that you will actually have accommodation and a rental car for the event. And you just can’t avoid the inflated prices; it’s peak tourist season when we visit with Supercars.

If you want to save money, there is a free shuttle bus service that links the track to the city, but that usually doesn’t match up with my travel requirements, so I need to make sure I have a rental car in Darwin.

Flight – $972

Accommodation – $1519

Rental Car – $412

Total: $2903

Round 6 – Townsville Street Circuit – Queensland

Round 6 - Townsville Street Circuit

Another good tropical escape during the winter, Townsville is another of the more popular Supercars events to travel to, both for those competing and the fans. That said, if you book early enough like I try to, you can avoid spending too much on accommodation and rental cars.

Unlike some of the other street circuit events where I try to save money by not renting a car, for the most part, to save money on the accommodation, renting a car is a requirement. The savings in the accommodation costs more than cover the cost of the rental car if you book early enough.

Flight – $791

Accommodation – $690

Rental Car – $314

Total: $1795

Round 7 – Sydney Motorsport Park – New South Wales

Round 7 - Sydney Motorsport Park

Despite being a local-ish event for me (2 hours drive each way is still local, right?) I will always book accommodation near Sydney Motorsport Park for these Supercars rounds. By the time I commute in, it makes an already long day at the track some much longer.

That, coupled with the switch to night racing in Sydney in recent years (which is excellent for the sport), means that staying near the track for the duration of the Sydney round is a no-brainer.

Accommodation – $704

Travel – $90

Total: $794

Round 8 – The Bend Motorsport Park – Tailem Bend, South Australia

Round 8 - The Bend Motorsport Park

Accommodation for the regional races is always the hardest to secure. Smaller towns mean much more limited options. So there is some sort of irony that one of the biggest tracks we visit – The Bend Motorsport Park – (if you account for the extended GT layout) is near the smallest town we visit on the Supercars calendar.

There is no getting around it; Tailem Bend is tiny, with only a handful of accommodation options. Nearby Murray Bridge is bigger with a few more options, and where I try to stay during the Supercars visit. But as you can see, that’s still a relatively costly exercise. Staying in Adelaide is often cheaper, but it does make for a considerable drive to the track each day.

Flight – $499

Accommodation – $1323

Rental Car – $500

Total: $2322

Round 9 – Sandown Raceway – Melbourne, Victoria

Round 9 - Sandown Raceway

A big part of my decision-making around booking travel for Supercars events is based on what other events I need to travel to between them. So when the Supercars and SpeedSeries announced their calendars with events at Sandown Raceway over consecutive weekends, logistically staying in Melbourne for the duration of both events made a lot of sense.

I would typically fly down to Melbourne for races at Sandown, but flying back and forth for one day at home doesn’t make much sense, at least for me. That said two events back to back and an extended stay in Melbourne does typically make the costs add up, so instead of flying down and renting a car for nearly two weeks, I decided to drive down to mitigate some of those expenses.

Here are the costs for driving to and from Melbourne (and to and from the track each day) as well as the cost of accommodation for the duration of the Supercars round. Obviously, I paid more, and the rest is attributed to my expenses for the SpeedSeries round instead.

Transport – $250

Accommodation – $929

Total: $1179

Round 10 – Mount Panorama – Bathurst, New South Wales

Round 10 - Mount Panorama

The Bathurst 1000 is the single biggest motorsport event of the year to cover. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to Mount Panorama each year for this one. And I’m genuinely convinced some of them have no idea there is a race happening. They just come for the atmosphere.

That said, Bathurst is a regional town, and back to my point about regional towns being the hardest to secure accommodation in due to the size of these events. That steps up to another level for the Bathurst 1000.

Camping really isn’t an option for a photographer. With batteries to charge overnight and working late into the evening every night. Even just keeping my gear secure while I’m trackside, there are some genuine and practical reasons not to camp at the track.

That said, all the hotels know years in advance when the race is going to be (it’s been on the same weekend each year for well over a decade now), and with limited options around town, they typically charge in excess of $1000 per night for the Bathurst 1000 weekend. Obviously, that’s not ideal for someone trying to make an income out of the race.

So, instead, we rent a house from a Bathurst local for the week while they go on a holiday to get away from the event. This is a costly exercise in itself, but once I split the costs amongst several other members of the media, it becomes slightly more reasonable. My contribution to the house this year, as you can see below, was just a sixth of the total cost of the house, splitting it with other members of the media.

Transport – $160

Accommodation – $1069

Total: $1229

Round 11 – Gold Coast Street Circuit – Queensland

Round 11 - Gold Coast Street Circuit

Similarly to Sandown, I elected to drive up instead of fly for the Gold Coast round. I had a few jobs immediately following the event in Queensland that warranted driving up anyway. But once you factor in the inflated flight prices, given how popular the Surfers Paradise event is and the limited time difference between flying and driving, it makes it a little harder to justify the extra expense of flying.

One of the novelties unique to the Gold Coast race is staying within the circuit or even within a short walk of it. And while I’ve done that a few times over the years, in 2023, it was a much cheaper option to stay a little further away (South Surfers Paradise, to be exact) and utilise the free trams (for event ticket holders) instead.

The back end of the Supercars calendar features some of the biggest events (attendance-wise), so it’s harder to snag a good deal.

Transport – $180

Accommodation – $1201

Total: $1381

Round 12 – Adelaide Street Circuit – South Australia

Round 12 - Adelaide Street Circuit

Wrapping up the Supercars schedule for 2023, the title decider was held on the streets of Adelaide.

Luckily, for the 2023 edition of the race, I was able to pick up some pretty good accommodation within walking distance of the circuit for a reasonable price. Again the benefits of locking in everything early. But that also meant I could avoid renting a car for the week in Adelaide, helping keep my costs in line for the year.

That said, though, accommodation within walking distance is a bit limited in Adelaide, and I have had to stay further away and drive to the track each day. I had a little bit of luck in getting a good option secured.

Flight – $476

Accommodation – $945

Uber – $112

Total: $1533

Totals For The Year

Now that you know a little about each event, it’s time to look at the total travel expenses for the year. In 2023, I spent $11,041 just on accommodation to attend Supercars rounds. Flights for 7 of the 12 rounds set me back $4478. While the remainder of my miscellaneous transport costs (rental cars, fuel, uber/taxis) set me back another $3145.

The trick to attending every Supercars event is to get in early and look for the best deals. It doesn’t take long after the schedule for the year is announced for those costs to blow out by thousands of dollars.

If you want to know more about how I save money travelling to different motorsport events around the country, check out this post.

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

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