International motor sport is a noisy, glamorous, Machiavellian and fearsomely expensive business. These days our own world class Touring Car championship – V8 Supercars, loses nothing in the translation as it continues its inexorable rise to now be one of our elite major domestic sports, while also going international.

Who better then to discuss this exotic and volatile mix of politics and big business that drives the world of elite motor sport both overseas and here in Australia, than Tony Cochrane as the boss of our biggest motor sport? As straight talking chairman of AVESCO – the sport’s governing body and day-to-day administration, Cochrane also provides an upbeat assessment of his sport’s many gains since its inception in 1997, as the V8’s continue to spread their racing and business wings including this year’s entry into China.

Cochrane also speaks with refreshing candour as to what the future might hold for elite motor sport in two Australian cities – Melbourne and the Gold Coast, in which currently the V8’s participation is integral to the promotion and programming of each racing “carnival”. We also look at how the sport is not only expanding via such markets as New Zealand and China, and a huge global TV footprint that includes live races going into Europe and China, but ambitious plans for the sport to also race in other markets such as Singapore and Thailand, the Middle East and maybe South Africa. But not all of them collectively as AVESCO sees the ideal racing calendar as 10 Australian races and four overseas, and there is already two spoken for.

He also sets the record straight on exactly what he had in mind when he famously said at Bathurst last year that he would like his sport to take a considered look at the feasibility of opening up its championship to possibly other Australian car makers other than Holden and Ford. The choking sounds from some sections of the sport are still resonating in his ears because they failed to register that he only called for an industry forum to sit down merely look at all aspects of such a possibility – not to move on it as such.

Read here in Part One of this interview, how competing and often extraordinary political and business machinations all play their part in helping spin the wheels of big time motor sport – not to mention those of the V8 Supercars chief too! It’s our contribution to Melbourne’s annual auto sport festival.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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