Parties race for Tailem Bend V8 deal

South Australia's Labor government has pledged $7.5 million to help bring a V8 Supercar race to Tailem Bend after the Liberals first promised to bid for a race.
South Australia's Labor government has pledged $7.5 million to help bring a V8 Supercar race to Tailem Bend after the Liberals first promised to bid for a race.

Tailem Bend appears destined to hold South Australia’s second V8 Supercar race by 2024, whichever party wins the upcoming election.

Labor one-upped the Liberal Party on Thursday by agreeing not only to support any bid for a V8 race at Tailem Bend Motorsport Park, but to contribute $7.5 million in state government funding to the track’s development.

Labor Premier Jay Weatherill estimated the facility would one day attract 300,000 visitors to the Murraylands annually, create as many as 1,600 full-time jobs and bring $200 million into the State economy.

Six hundred more jobs would be created during construction of the facility, which would include a hotel, caravan park, air strip, service station and restaurants alongside a major industrial precinct.

Labor Recreation and Sport Minister Leon Bignell said he wanted to see grassroots motor sport enthusiasts using the track every day of the year.

“While seven per cent of the nation’s population resides in South Australia, 11 per cent of the country’s motor sport enthusiasts live here,” he said.

“There are so many different options for bikes and vehicles.

“The track can also be used for training our young people to drive and will be an excellent facility for our police and emergency services to train.”

Five-time V8 Supercar championship-winning driver Mark Skaife said Tailem Bend had the potential to become South Australia’s Bathurst.

Confederation of Australian Motor Sport chief executive Eugene Arocca, whose organisation last year nominated Tailem Bend as the ideal site for any future motor sport development in the state, was equally optimistic.

“South Australia has a proud motor sport history and attendances at the Clipsal 500 are among the best in the nation,” he said.

“A new multi-purpose motor sport park will … allow South Australia the capacity to bid for a range of motor sport events and diversify the racing calendar.”

The Liberal Party last week indicated its desire to see Tailem Bend host a V8 Supercar race that would underpin one of two distinct motor sport seasons in South Australia, with the other to be centred around the Clipsal 500.

If elected, the Liberals pledged to spend $200,000 analysing the potential benefits of such an arrangement.

Liberal leader Steven Marshall accused Labor of copying his idea.