The New Zealand Grand Prix is on track to triple its attendance on the back of a free ticket offer for Palmerston North and Manawatū district ratepayers.
Promoter Geoff Short, of Speedworks, said more tickets had been redeemed for the February 9-11 event than attended 2017’s racing.
The popularity, which had Short estimating an attendance of 10,000 people a day at Manfeild, Feilding, prompted Speedworks to implement a deadline to redeem free tickets by – December 31.
“We hoped that we would get a good uptake and we have certainly had that,” Short said.
“Our concern is that in January, if all of a sudden there was a sudden influx, we would not have the infrastructure to keep up with the number of people who turn up to the event.
“That is why we have put a deadline on it, so we can make sure that we have responsibly coped with having enough toilets for everyone and that sort of thing.”
Speedworks offered up to 45,000 vouchers with rates notices in November, at a potential value of $3.15 million, but could not say exactly how many had been redeemed.
He said about 50 people a day were signing up to the ratepayer tickets online.
About 3000 tickets were issued to drivers, teams and officials in the nine racing classes heading to the event.
Attendance has long been a concern at Manfeild, with average crowd figures of 2500 almost seeing the three-day event moved away from the Feilding track.
Part of Manfeild keeping the hosting rights was that it would hand over the running of the grand prix to Speedworks.
Short said his focus was ensuring the grand prix, which is meant to be the pinnacle of New Zealand motorsport, was once again one of the country’s major sporting events.
He was happy with how things were progressing and said he was heartened by stories of people who have not been to motorsport events in a long time locking in their tickets.
“I think that we have made huge progress this year and it looks positive for the future of the grand prix.”