Australian drag racing promoter Gary Miocevich has had enough.
Today he’s walking away from a project which could have brought Australian championship drag racing to the thriving metropolis of Melbourne.
Miocevich issued a letter explaining his plans to walk away from the project to those supporters whom he said have stood behind him on his bid to bring racing to this community since 2006.
“It was basically to let them know why things have fallen silent and why I have chosen to do what I have done,” said Miocevich.
Miocevich describes himself as a drag racing tragic, or as in the United States, a diehard who doesn’t seek to speak ill towards anyone. He does feel; however, the need to tell his side of this story.
“Unfortunately those in control at ANDRA have very little idea and experience in drag racing and know little about what is expected of them,” Miocevich said. “They have, in twelve months, taken a highly regarded organization and turned it into a mess.”
Miocevich told this publication he had an agreement which was put in place with ANDRA back in 2006 under the Tony Thornton administration. He said his position was very clear that he would take the initial steps to bring a new facility on ANDRA’s behalf, established the foundation and business model, and promote the initial years in order to recoup his initial investment.
Miocevich said his initial investment was in the $600,000 range.
“We could have had a track in Melbourne to go along with Perth and Sydney as government funded tracks,” Miocevich said.
The Melbourne facility was scheduled to be a four-lane drag strip with every intention of replicating what was done at zMax Dragway, the facility located just outside of Charlotte, NC.
“We had been looking at a four-lane track since before we built the Perth track in the late 1990s,” said Miocevich. “Afterwards we realized this was the way to go. I was fortunate enough to go to zMax and that just confirmed it for me. At the time they built zMax, we were marketing this to the Victorian government.”
Miocevich explained how he had been working with the government since 2006 and estimated he was 80-percent through with getting them involved with the facility.
“These things generally take five to seven years,” Miocevich explained. “We know what we are doing. We know how to get the governments to commit. But, it takes total unity. There has been change with some [ANDRA] divisional directors on the national control council before they shifted to a company who was starting to interfere and get direction which breached our agreement.”
Miocevich believes the interference was largely due to a lack of understanding associated with the process. He doesn’t rule out a measure of sporting politics as a motive. There was also a belief, Miocevich confirmed, in believing the project was an impossible task.
“There were some who believed they knew better,” Miocevich explained. “There’s an old saying which suggests if you’re ignorant and know you’re ignorant, then you’re on the right road. However, if you’re ignorant and don’t know it … there’s no helping you.”
Miocevich said in his letter to the Motivate Melbourne group he’d be counseled by some active in these kinds of proceedings in order to seek legal remedy against ANDRA. This is a road he simply refuses, at this time, to travel. He said he would rather focus his energies into growing his success at the Perth Motorplex.
“I did this because I wanted to give back to the sport,” said Miocevich. “I was in a position where I could financially do it. I certainly had the experience at working with governments. In my other life, I have experience working with governments on defense contracts. I had Marine contracts both national and international. In governments when they do things, there’s a certain way they go about doing them. It’s a long slow road and it’s too frustrating for most people. Most people don’t follow through.”
Because of what he believes were breaches in their agreements, Miocevich believes his separation with ANDRA on the project will inevitably hurt the Victorian drag racers who stood to gain the most from the Melbourne facility.
Miocevich said the strife with ANDRA will not affect the success of the Perth Motorplex, a venue he says is the most successful permanent motorsports venue in Australia.
“That’s not by accident,” Miocevich added.
Miocevich said he would love to see the Melbourne project go forward, even if he isn’t in the director’s seat.
“I would still be happy to offer advice should anyone else that wishes to try and pick up the task,” said Miocevich. “My estimation is that we are between 80% and 85% of the process to achieve a Government commitment.”
If Miocevich leaves, will there be government involvement?
“Interesting question,” Miocevich said. “I didn’t want to drop this, but now I’m not putting any more time and money into it while the ANDRA board is a train wreck. For some reason they’ve taken an extreme dislike to not only me but also promoters in general. We’re okay with that, we can live without it.
“Our intention [at Perth] is to still be an ANDRA-sanctioned track for the major events. But, at this moment things go down, you have to let the government know about the ruckus at ANDRA. I certainly haven’t called them. I’ve been quiet. From what I gather, though, others have spoken with those involved.”
Is there a fix to the mess? Miocevich says yes, but the next move belongs to ANDRA.
“I know how I would fix drag racing in Australia and it would take a few fine people,” explained Miocevich. “I could do it with about four or five high quality individuals … administrators and experienced. We could fix the damage they’ve done in twelve months. No one is prepared to do that currently.”
And no, Miocevich isn’t starting his own sanctioning body along with Willowbank Raceway as rumors suggest.
“Quite frankly, we have been the largest supporters of ANDRA for decades,” said Miocevich. “We’re pretty much ANDRA people. At the moment, we are just scared that our beloved organization is being decimated by people who don’t have a clue.”
ANDRA provided an exclusive statement through interim CEO Rob Sharp.
“I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Gary for the hard work he put into this over six years,” stated Sharp. “Ultimately the lobbying was unsuccessful and the Victorian Government and CAMS have both explained the stand alone proposal had little chance of succeeding, especially with CAMS lobbying for a motorsports venue at the same time.
“ANDRA now needs to take steps to continue to move this process forward and should be keeping members in the loop. The board needs to formulate a plan on where they will be taking the lobbying efforts and who will be directing it. A press release is almost sent out, where the facts are detailed so people can make their own decisions as to ANDRA's actions.”
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