Drag racing will be back at the Bend Motorsport Park in 2023
Start your engines – a $30 million drag strip will be built at Tailem Bend, venue owner Sam Shahin and Premier Steven Marshall have announced.
A $30 million drag racing venue will be built at the Bend Motorsport Park by the end of this year, managing director Sam Shahin has announced.
The new strip will host 55 events each year, including a round of the Australian Drag Racing Championship, attracting more than 120,000 visitors annually.
That will mean $13 million worth of extra economic activity in the Murraylands, generating almost 100 jobs, including 15 at the track.
Almost 200 more workers will be needed to build the drag facility.
It will feature a kilometre of tarmac, auditorium-style seating and lighting for night events, plus a 1000-square-metre burnout pad and three-hectare staging area.
When added to the existing motor racing circuit, rally circuit, four-wheel-drive adventure park and go-karting track, it will bring Dr Shahin’s ultimate vision – building the most complete motor sport park anywhere in the world – one step closer.
“If you love motorsport, there is no place like the Bend,” he said.
“This is motorsport’s holy land and I want every Australian to experience it.”
Premier Steven Marshall attended Saturday's announcement to commit $2 million of state taxpayers’ money to the project.
“We want to make the Bend the unequivocal home of motorsport in South Australia,” he said.
“By investing (the funding) ... we will see a huge influx of new events, new people and in turn the creation of hundreds of jobs.”
The announcement came as no real surprise – the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport had backed Tailem Bend as the future home of drag racing in South Australia back in 2013, and a drag strip had always been part of the Shahin family’s plans.
Still, Tailem Bend has not hosted drag racing since the Shahins bought the motor sport park; and before that since 1979, when the venue was briefly known as the River View Raceway.
More than 4000 people had signed a petition by the South Australian Drag Racers’ Association calling for a drag strip to be built at the Bend.
The new venue will be built to a higher standard than any other venue in the state, including Adelaide International Raceway at Virginia and Steel City Raceway at Whyalla.
Big 4 park gets big investment, too
All those extra visitors will need somewhere to stay, so Mr Marshall also announced $500,000 in funding for an upgrade of the Big 4 holiday park at the Bend.
The park will get 10 new one-bedroom cabins and recreation facilities including a mini-golf course, BMX track, multi-sports court and nature trail, at a total cost of $1.6 million.
Dr Shahin said he was committed to growing SA’s visitor economy by attracting interstate holidaymakers, locals and school groups.
SA Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said there was strong demand for more accommodation in regional SA.
“Everything that is helping to grow the offerings and experiences for visitors to the Bend, increase accommodation options in our regions and give visitors more reasons to linger longer is good news for SA,” he said.
The park already features a range of cabins and campsites, complementing the four-star Rydges hotel which overlooks pit lane on the main race track.
What about a train to the Bend?
That’s not to say racing fans have got everything they want, of course.
The day before the big announcement, the National Party called for a railway station to be built at the Bend Motorsport Park.
“Wouldn’t it be terrific if motor enthusiasts from Adelaide could catch a train out to Tailem, pulling up alongside the new train station at the Bend and walking through an underpass straight to the track?” asked Senate candidate Gary Johansen.
“It should be relatively easy to reinstate passenger services to Tailem Bend.
“Using this line as a test case could allow for the re-opening of many disused tracks into regional areas, stimulating tourism and allowing for a safe option for travel home to Adelaide after major events.”
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