The reason for postponing the 2021 Adelaide 500 street race rather than shifting it to The Bend Motorsport Park remains unclear — as the venue has been deemed suitable for other Supercar events.
- Events South Australia is hoping to reschedule the Adelaide 500 for later in 2021
- The Bend Motorsport Park has been overlooked as an alternative site for the race
- Up to 10,000 are expected at a Supercar event at the venue later this month
Premier Steven Marshall today confirmed the opening round of the 2021 Supercars Championship would not go ahead in Adelaide in February due to uncertainty around COVID-19 and its potential impact on crowd numbers.
It takes 11 weeks to construct grandstands and infrastructure for the city street circuit and Mr Marshall said the possibility of restricted crowds made the costs involved too risky.
“We just can’t put the small businesses through all of the costs if we don’t know if we can have the event with tens of thousands of people mingling and attending that event,” he said.
Events South Australia executive director Hitaf Rashid said if the Adelaide 500 was to be held on permanent infrastructure that did not require so much work to set up, it would be a “different situation”.
The Bend overlooked
The Bend Motorsport Track, which opened about an hour’s drive away from the city at Tailem Bend in 2018, is licensed for racing by the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile and is considered a potential alternative for the Australian Grand Prix if Melbourne cannot host it next year.
It also announced on Monday that it would hold a Supercars SuperSprint doubleheader over two back-to-back weekends later this month.
Unlike much larger endurance events such as the Adelaide 500 and the Bathurst 1000 in New South Wales, SuperSprint events require a limited crew from each racing team.
Despite this, Ms Rashid said The Bend was not considered as an alternative site for the Adelaide 500.
“We had lots of conversations with Supercars and that wasn’t something they were looking at for their calendar,” she said.
The ABC asked Supercars if The Bend had been considered as an alternative venue, but a spokesperson said that question should be directed to the South Australian Tourism Commission — for which Events SA is the sponsorship arm — because it was their event.
Crowd numbers uncertain
The Adelaide 500 has been held annually in and around Victoria Park in the city’s east end since it began in 1999, drawing a record crowd of more than 291,000 people in 2008 — the highest of any domestic motorsport event in the country.
Even the 206,000 people the Adelaide race drew in 2020 — its lowest crowd in 17 years — remained the largest Supercar crowd in Australia.
It remains unclear how many people will be allowed to attend The Bend SuperSprint doubleheader later this month, but crowds of 10,000 have recently been allowed to attend AFL matches at Adelaide Oval.
The Bend managing director Sam Shahin told ABC Radio Adelaide that he did not understand why the Adelaide 500 could not be held there as well.
Driving to 2021
Supercars chief executive officer Sean Seamer said the organisation had been in constant discussion with SATC and supported the decision to cancel the Adelaide 500 in February.
“This is one of the showpiece events on our calendar and we agree, at this current time, with the planning and infrastructure required, it would not be viable to run an event of that size and scale in February,” he said.
Ms Rashid said the parties were working to find a new date for the state’s flagship motorsport event.
“We’ll be monitoring that situation [and] we’ll certainly be working with Supercars to put a new date in the calendar next year,” she said.