Murray Bridge Speedway announces cautious return

The motor racing venue plans to host its first event next month, seven months after COVID-19 shut it down.

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A little thing like a coronavirus pandemic won’t be enough to keep Murray Bridge Speedway down.

The motor racing venue will hold its first event next month, more than seven months after COVID-19 restrictions forced it to close suddenly in March.

Its capacity will be strictly limited to 1000 people, social distancing rules will apply and other changes will be necessary, including a temporary closure of the canteen in favour of on-site food vendors.

But – all things considered – it would be good to be back, venue manager Darren Shaddock said.

“We were going to put it into mothballs until Christmas, but we decided we’ll run one show a month just to give the sport some activity,” he said.

“Hopefully ... the restrictions will have eased and we’ll go back to normal in January or February.”

While the shutdown had been a blow, he said, its timing had been manageable – the speedway season would usually finish in April anyway.

Still, the venue had been forced to cut costs, including spending on staff, and had sought rent relief from the Murray Bridge Sporting Car Club and Motorcycle Club.

Now more than ever, Mr Shaddock said, “we need activity”.

“If there’s no activity, the sport won’t survive,” he said.

The 2020-21 speedway season was originally due to have opened last weekend.

Instead, it will begin with a practice session – closed to the public – on October 3.

Race meetings will follow on October 17, November 7 and December 5, so long as there are no further coronavirus outbreaks in South Australia.

Tickets have not yet gone on sale.

The World Series Sprintcars event which would usually be held on Boxing Day will not go ahead, but Mr Shaddock remained hopeful other big events with interstate competitors might be held in January, February and March.

Those would include the annual Pink Night, world record demolition derby attempt and Australian titles.

Photos: Murray Bridge Speedway (top), Gavin Skene/The Art of Speedway (bottom).