To­day and to­mor­row

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites -

Just what the fu­ture holds for the 50-some­thing mo­tor rac­ing fa­cil­ity is largely linked to its 80-some­thing owner’s suc­ces­sion plans, and a new per­ma­nent track slowly com­ing to life about two hours’ drive away.

Mal­lala Mo­tor Sport Park has long been Clem Smith’s week­end re­treat, where you can find him per­son­ally at­tend­ing to mi­nor main­te­nance tasks, tin­ker­ing with cars in his col­lec­tion or, on race week­ends, chat­ting to com­peti­tors and of­fi­cials.

South Aus­tralian mo­tor­sport’s liv­ing trea­sure isn’t run­ning Mal­lala to be­come rich but to give the state’s rac­ers some­where to com­pete. He has mixed feel­ings on the Tailem Bend com­plex now un­der con­struc­tion 100km south­east of Ade­laide. On one hand Tailem Bend will pro­vide com­peti­tors an­other venue and a po­ten­tial shot in the arm; on the other it’s un­clear whether the rel­a­tively small mo­tor­sport com­mu­nity can sup­port two per­ma­nent cir­cuits.

“We see it as a threat be­cause it will take busi­ness away from us be­cause ev­ery sportsper­son wants to try out some­thing new, so for a while we will ex­pect a loss of busi­ness, yes,” Smith told the Gawler Bun­yip news­pa­per last year.

“We are not look­ing for V8 Su­per­cars, like they [Tailem Bend] are, we are happy with club events, which will con­tinue to be run.

“They took about $40 mil­lion and 1600 acres – we’ve only got 200 acres and we haven’t got $40 mil­lion.”

“(Mal­lala) has been the only fa­cil­ity in South Aus­tralia and we have done our best to make sure it is avail­able to ev­ery mo­tor­sport there is,” he said. “We use our fa­cil­i­ties ev­ery week­end and dur­ing the week as well and we run the state mo­tor rac­ing cham­pi­onships, the drag cham­pi­onships and laps na­tion­als, where peo­ple en­joy their hot cars twice a year.” Drift­ing com­peti­tors have also em­braced the track. “I bought the busi­ness in 1976 and it took a few years to get it up and run­ning (but) times have changed now, as you can see, when peo­ple are pre­pared to spend $40 mil­lion on a race­track and get some mil­lions from the gov­ern­ment to do it. “I haven’t got any (gov­ern­ment fund­ing), I paid for it all my­self. “They will do their thing and we will do ours.” Last Novem­ber a threat of a dif­fer­ent kind could have lev­elled the cir­cuit’s build­ings – bush­fire. Fires that claimed two lives, left 90 peo­ple in hos­pi­tal and de­stroyed 87 homes skirted the fa­cil­ity and staff mem­bers were evac­u­ated. Some smaller struc­tures were ru­ined but the track’s main build­ings were spared. It was if Mother Na­ture recog­nised it was a Sa­cred Site and couldn’t de­prive lo­cal grass roots com­peti­tors of the only place to race – for now.

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