South Australia’s Premier says the state does not have “buckets of cash” but would back a bid from the Murraylands town of Tailem Bend to host the Australian Grand Prix next year.
- The Bend Motorsport Park will host two Supercars races in September
- The track is also able to host Formula One races
- The SA Premier says it is a possibility to come here
Steven Marshall says The Bend Motorsport Park is one of the best tracks in the world and would be perfect for the Formula One event if it could not go ahead in Melbourne.
The track’s owners, the Shahin family, announced today they were currently preparing to host two Supercars rounds on September 19-20 and 26-27.
Mr Marshall said the Formula One race could not be held as a street circuit in the CBD in the same way the Adelaide 500 Supercars race in February was.
However, he said The Bend would be suitable if Australia was obligated to host a grand prix and it could not go ahead in Melbourne, which is going through a second wave of coronavirus cases.
He said the two-year-old track about 100 kilometres south-east of Adelaide was “one of the very best racing circuits globally”.
“We would look at every single option in terms of bringing events to South Australia,” Mr Marshall said.
“But of course it’s got to stand up from a commercial perspective.
“We don’t have buckets and buckets of cash lying around, but to bring quality events to South Australia that promote economic activity, that get our economy moving, is exactly what we’re looking at at the moment.”
Push to host more sporting events
South Australia will this week learn if its bid to host the AFL grand final at Adelaide Oval has been successful.
The state is also interested in hosting the Boxing Day Test if it cannot be held at the MCG.
Adelaide hosted the Australian Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995.
In March, the Melbourne grand prix did not go ahead after organisers cancelled it on the day because of coronavirus concerns.
Races have since recommenced overseas, including in Belgium on Sunday.
SA Health reported no new coronavirus cases in the state today, the eighth day in a row without new infections.
“I think we’re in a very good position if the Melbourne grand prix doesn’t go ahead,” Mr Marshall said.
“Now, if there’s a requirement, South Australia stands ready.
“We’re not going over to poach it, but South Australia stands ready with a fantastic track.”
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Owner keen for Formula One
The Bend’s managing director, Sam Shahin, said he had “kept chipping away” with the Supercars Championship to host the two races next month ever since the venue was left off the sport’s calendar during a June update.
With Supercars team holed up in Queensland and travel between South Australia and Queensland unrestricted, The Bend was perfect for the race, Dr Shahin said.
“To be able to house them at the onsite hotel at the Rydges Pit Lane Hotel for the entire duration of the 10 or 12 days was a key component to securing the deal,” he said.
He said expected between 5,000 and 10,000 spectators would be allowed to attend, along with 400 staff.
He said F1 racing could be held at The Bend with some adjustments due to the higher speeds involved.
Tailem Bend caravan park owner Trevor Morgan said previous races had brought the sleepy riverfront railway town to life.
“It’s been bedlam all weekend … really, really good,” he said.
Shahins in court over pay disputes
The Shahins own the OTR chain of service stations that was earlier this month ordered to pay almost $65,000 to a low-paid employee who was forced to work for free.
The chain has also been accused of wage theft that could amount to $70 million in underpayments to thousands of employees.
“That matter is still being dealt with and I hope in due course we’ll be able to talk about that in full detail,” Dr Shahin told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning.
The company’s proposal for a new seven-storey headquarters with a helipad on it has also provoked opposition.