The Willowbank Raceway board is proud to announce it has appointed highly-respected Queensland sports stadia manager Blair Conaghan as Chief Executive Officer of its venue.
Conaghan comes to Willowbank Raceway with immense experience in sports stadia and events management, having held the position of Manager of The Gabba for more than a decade, in addition to also acting as General Manager of Business Development and Marketing for Stadiums Queensland.
He also managed Townsville’s Dairy Farmers Stadium for three years and was Events Manager for the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust. He has also worked in athletics and swimming during his distinguished career.
Conaghan said while he was joining Willowbank Raceway during a difficult time due to the global pandemic – which led to yesterday’s difficult announcement that Willowbank’s biggest annual event, the 2020 Gulf Western Oils Winternationals had been cancelled – he was motivated by the challenge and opportunities.
“I am pleased to be joining Willowbank Raceway given the opportunity of working at a renowned facility with such a great history, and an exciting sport in Drag Racing – the venue and sport have got strong growth potential,” Conaghan said.
“With the COVID global pandemic, we are in a unique and challenging time for all businesses, including event venues and sports as evidenced with yesterday’s announcement of the Gulf Western Oils Winternationals cancellation, but challenges are what drives people in their jobs, including me.
“There is a lot for me to learn about Drag Racing but the people I have spoken to so far within the sport – the Willowbank board, some officials, and several competitors – are all entirely committed to it and incredibly passionate. That says to me; Drag Racing has significant potential.
“As I gain a better understanding of what makes Drag Racing so unique and appealing, I’ll be able to utilise a ‘fresh set of eyes’ to focus on making our venue a better experience for all stakeholders.”Willowbank Raceway President Tony Wedlock said Conaghan’s appointment was a coup for the venue, known as “Drag Racing’s Finest”.
“Blair has a considerable wealth of knowledge and experience in running major sports venues and events, and that will be of substantial benefit to Willowbank Raceway, our staff, corporate partners, and customers,” Wedlock said.
“We are delighted Willowbank Raceway has been able to attract a CEO of Blair’s calibre; it says a lot for our venue and sport, and we are looking forward to a long and successful association together.”
Blair has generously agreed to commence his tenure in a part-time capacity given the current economic conditions and will transition to a full-time role once restrictions ease and full operations resume.