SOUTH AUSSIES FIGHT TO SAVE ADELAIDE 500 TARMAC

The Victoria Park section of race track, pictured during the 2002 Adelaide 500. Pic: an1images.com

A PROPOSED redevelopment that could see the tarmac for the permanent loop of Adelaide’s iconic street circuit torn up has been met with fierce opposition in South Australia.

It was reported on Sunday by The Advertiser that “Adelaide City councillor Greg Mackie is backing a residents’ group which wants most of the bitumen track to be ripped up because it has become an “urban heat island” during hot weather”.

Victoria Park has featured a 1200 metre loop of race track tarmac and associated cement pit paddock surfaces since the Formula 1 Grand Prix first came to the location in 1985.

The latest proposal follows the controversial cancelation of the popular Adelaide 500 Supercars event, which was permanently axed last year by current Premier Steven Marshall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our celebration of the Adelaide 500’s heritage, Sensational Adelaide: An Illustrated History of the Adelaide 500, is available now in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.

Coincidentally, the location has been used by the government as a COVID-19 testing site during the pandemic, while it’s also utilised by residents for recreational activities including bike riding and running.

Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas has promised to the bring the Adelaide 500 back if he wins power and, already frustrated by a sell-off of the event’s assets, has slammed suggestions the track could be ripped up.

“What Greg is coming up with is hare-brained ideas to basically take the single biggest attraction in Victoria Park out of it,” said Malinauskas on local radio station 5AA.

“We’re going to bring [the Adelaide 500] back if we win, so we hope the track stays for the short term for that reason.”

South Australian motorsport identity Mike Drewer, whose career included stints running media relations for the Adelaide F1 race and Supercars event, also slammed the proposal on ABC Radio.

The area as it exists today. Pic: Google Maps

“I’ve never heard so much rubbish, it’s a significant landmark as it is for South Australia,” he said.

“This is a very significant piece of South Australia’s history and this chap now talking about tree coverage, I mean you can’t have tree coverage and loose line of sight for activities that are held there now.

“I think this is vandalism to start talking about removing any signs of motorsports in Adelaide. Why not leave it?”

Fellow SA motorsport media man Richard Craill has also launched an impassioned plea to save the site, detailing a proposal to turn the area into a celebration of its motorsport heritage.

His idea would see “dedicated to art installations and info boards celebrating the major moments of the Grand Prix and ‘500 days” spread around the current tarmac loop.

Buoyed by an influx of support for the concept from the motorsport industry and fans alike, Craill has confirmed he will formalise his vision and send it to Council.

“The current government may not want the Adelaide 500, but surely it can entertain and endorse promoting a piece of tourism for the state that the many motorsport fans around Australia and the world who would come to see?” he said.

This plaque has sat at the Senna Chicane since 1994. Pic: an1images.com

Councillor Mackie’s motion for the redevelopment is set to be debated by Council on Tuesday night.

Speaking to ABC Radio ahead of the meeting, Mackie distanced himself from those who want the tarmac to be removed completely.

“All I have done is put a motion in calling for a report from Council to advise on the best steps to take in terms of process so that in the future we can achieve a greener tree canopy over the park area,” he said.

“My motion says nothing about ripping up bitumen, it says nothing about ripping up cement.

“It’s absolutely all about envisioning a shadier future for that park which is used and enjoyed by so many people from Pedal Prix to cyclist, to roller skaters and runners.

“On any weekend during summer, it is a very hot place for participants and for families who are coming out to ensure their kids are playing safely.”