FIVE-YEAR ADELAIDE 500 DEAL LOCKED IN

Scott McLaughlin won the 2020 Adelaide 500. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

ADELAIDE will host the Repco Supercars Championship’s final round for the next five years under a contract signed by Supercars and the South Australian Government today.

The two parties have quashed any lingering doubts around the event’s remarkable return later this year with the completion of the formal contract.

A marquee Supercars event from 1999, the Adelaide 500 was killed off by the then Liberal SA Government in October 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SA Labor Party ran with the event’s revival as a key promise ahead of its election victory in March and is now racing to deliver a blockbuster return on December 1-4.

Supercars CEO Shane Howard travelled to Adelaide to sign the contract today, alongside Premier Peter Malinauskas and SA Motorsport Board chief executive Mark Warren.

As part of the deal Adelaide will also host Supercars’ annual black-tie Gala Awards dinner following each year’s finale; a function not run since 2019.

Malinauskas trumpeted the news as a win for SA. Official figures show the 2019 Adelaide 500 attracted more than 250,000 people and generated more than $45 million in economic activity.

“This is an historic moment for motorsport in South Australia,” said Malinauskas.

“Not only are we locking in the event’s return this year, but we are also securing the race for at least the next five years.

“I have every confidence hosting the final race in the Supercars Championship will become an integral part of the sport’s calendar in the same way the season opener in Adelaide used to be.

“Coupled with hosting the end of season gala awards night, this promises to be a spectacular end of the year leading into the Christmas period.”

Every Adelaide 500 from 1999-2020 was run in the February-April period, which meant it regularly clashed with other key local events such as the popular Fringe Festival.

A move from its traditional position as the season opener to become the grand final had been mooted during 2020 before the event’s sudden axing.

The race before the race

Craig Lowndes on his way to victory in Race 2 at the 2014 Clipsal 500 Adelaide. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

The government set aside $21million for the return of the Adelaide 500 in its recently released State Budget, including $3million to buy back infrastructure that had been sold off.

That includes two overhead walkways, grandstands and barriers but not the main pit building structure, which was retained after its sale fell through.

Details of upgrades required to the track surface itself emerged earlier this week, with around half of the 3.2km of bitumen needing to be redone (starting August 1) in order to gain a track licence.

A COVID-19 testing site located in the Victoria Park section of the circuit will be relocated on July 1 ahead of an extension of the concrete hardstand used as the paddock and pit area.

The combination of the extra works and the potential use of contractors not previously familiar with the event will mean for a longer than usual build time for the venue.

That has drawn public commentary, including from prominent Adelaide City councillor Alex Hyde who questioned the potential impact on pre-Christmas shopping due to the new December date.

Adelaide-born Supercars driver and 2016 event winner Nick Percat blasted the 500’s critics on Wednesday, urging naysayers to see “the big picture of putting South Australia on the map”.

“Honestly, you guys are crazy. It infuriates me,” said the Walkinshaw Andretti United driver on ABC Radio Adelaide.

“This event injects $45 million into the economy and you’re worried about missing out on one weekend of people going shopping.

“Every other country — if you watch motorsport — is kicking goals, biggest crowd attendances.

“Then we have Adelaide still pushing back. It’s infuriating, honestly.”

The signing of the Adelaide 500 contract is expected to open the floodgates for more announcements, including the release of tickets, a big-name concert act and support categories.

Supercars has today confirmed the support bill will include the Dunlop Super2 Series, which had been a regular part of the event in previous years.