The 2019 Newcastle 500 was my first V8 event and I was very excited to see how the accessibility was like because I have Cerebral Palsy. I never followed the Supercars real close growing up in a town dominated by rugby league, but I kept up to date with events such as Bathurst 1000. I grew up loving sport, rugby league and hockey were my jam, but car racing always scared me because of the noise. When Newcastle 500 was first announced, I was thinking “Wow, what an opportunity for Newcastle! The Supercars are coming!” fully aware of the media coverage it got, both nationally and internationally. It would be two years down the track until I could attend in person.
On Friday morning on the 22nd November 2019I went through the gates, I had no expectations because I just got a General Admission ticket at the last minute. I just wanted to keep it as a surprise and just experience it as my adventure unfolded. And was I surprised! The Newcastle 500 is much more than just the final stop on the V8 Supercars tour. It’s a wonderful community event where everybody is made to feel welcome, no matter your ability. Car racing to me always looked like a non-inclusive, chauvinistic sport, it only took a trip over the bridge (via 2 lifts, which were awesome) into the centre of the action for me to change my mind.
It was like a carnival atmosphere with food vans and games to be played, merchandise plus sponsor tents and the biggest surprise of all ramps were everywhere making my way around easier than anticipated. I felt a bit overwhelmed that a sport as big as the V8 Supercars had worked so closely with the City Of Newcastle to make it as accessible as they possibly could, even ensuring people with disabilities had the best view in town. I sat on a platform near the start line and it was amazing! Even though my ticket was just General Admission the view of a lifetime.
I have never felt much prouder of my community than I was on that day. I would like to thank everybody from staff at ticketing, the volunteer that looked after my spot when I went to explore the rest of the facility, the V8 Supercar organisers and Newcastle City Council for taking inclusiveness to the next level and making my first V8 Supercars event spectacular.