V8 racing in chicane at the Adelaide 500.
V8 racing in chicane at the Adelaide 500.

‘Lost for words’: 21-year tradition canned

The Australian motorsports community is reeling after the announcement next year's Adelaide 500 had been axed by the South Australian government due to the coronavirus epidemic.

In September, Supercars announced the annual Adelaide race - which is typically held in March - would be pushed back towards the end of 2021, potentially to October.

However, the South Australian government has opted to cancel the event altogether, as revealed by Supercars in a statement on Thursday evening.

"The South Australian Government has communicated its decision to no longer conduct the Adelaide 500," the statement read.

"Supercars have enjoyed racing at this event since 1999.

"We regret that the South Australian Government has decided to cease holding this event. Supercars are looking forward to providing our fans with an exciting 2021 Championship across Australia and New Zealand.

"If at any time in the future, the South Australian Government decides to recommence the Adelaide 500, Supercars would be delighted to be there."

 

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Over the past 21 years, more than 5.3 million people have attended V8 races in Adelaide. More than 254,000 spectators attended the Adelaide 500 last year, compared to the 201,975 who attended the Bathurst 1000 in 2019.

Speaking to The Advertiser, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall explained the decision had not been made lightly.

"The Superloop Adelaide 500 has been an event icon for over 20 years, and this decision was made with careful consideration," Marshall said.

"COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for the events sector, and the uncertainty and other factors became an insurmountable hurdle in the plight to deliver a successful race.

"South Australia sets the benchmark for delivering world-class events, and we will continue to invest in this space to create local jobs.

"We remain a strong supporter of motorsports and will move swiftly to assess all options for motorsport future events."

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said in a statement: "South Australia is one of the premier event locations in the nation and globe, and we will continue to invest in a range of sporting, cultural and arts events to stimulate the visitor economy.

"Due to the high level of uncertainty around the ability of the event to proceed in 2021, the likely impact on the event for both the consumer and commercial market, and the long-term decline in the core motorsport fan, a decision has been made that it will not be possible to hold the race next year, and to not seek a contract for future years.

"We have been in discussions with Supercars for the majority of this year, working through possible scenarios. At the end of the day, with the current set of circumstances, we are not in a position to deliver a sustainable, successful future for the event for next year and beyond."

Jamie Whincup drives the Red Bull Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore ZB.
Jamie Whincup drives the Red Bull Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore ZB.

South Australian politician Tom Koutsantonis tweeted: "Make no mistake, killing the Adelaide 500 is a budget decision taken by the Premier & his Treasurer.

"Trust me the Adelaide 500 isn't Steven Marshall's kind of event, it attracts too many tradies, blue collar workers & working families types for his liking.

"Steven Marshall & Rob Lucas will leave a terrible legacy. Massive debt & a soulless city.

"The Adelaide 500 means so much to SA, the best street circuit in the world IMO. Now it's gone, killed by two men who couldn't be further removed from the aspirations of working people.

"The Adelaide 500 is one of the most import economic & social events for the City economy. This is a body blow long term for our hotels & restaurants."

The Advertiser journalist Cara Jenkin tweeted: "I am absolutely furious about this decision. I have been a proud South Australian all my life but am now embarrassed to be associated with what was once a great state."

AAP reporter Oliver Caffrey posted: "Every city does a magnificent job of hosting Supercars events but there's something special about the Adelaide 500. Boneheaded decision from the SA government."

 

Originally published as 'Lost for words': 21-year tradition canned



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