racing in South Australia had been humming along happily at Adelaide International Raceway, opened in 1972, but the success of the racer-owned Willowbank track in Queensland sparked enthusiasm among a core of racers in SA. In 1978 they announced the construction of a new quarter-mile track at Tailem Bend, not far from Murray Bridge.
The first event at what was known as River Bend Raceway was staged in April 1979, and things looked rosy from the outside. Events rolled through one after the other, though many were hampered by bad weather, until just eight months later when debtors foreclosed on the venue, leaving racers and others unpaid.
The track was put on the market and purchased by Mitsubishi Motors as a motor vehicle test venue and operated until local manufacturing wound up. Grassroots motorsport resumed at the renamed Tailem Bend Motorsport Park in the ‘noughties’ thanks to Motorcycling SA and the Sporting Car Club of SA. This included short-lived ‘off-street’ drags. Ownership of the venue passed to the Shahin family’s Peregrine Corporation in 2013, which recently unveiled grand plans to establish the site as the state’s premier permanent motorsport venue, inclusive of drag racing.