The opening of any new drag strip is big news, however when it is a $30,000,000 (USD) mega complex, then it is huge news. Late last month, South Australia’s Dragstrip at the Bend opened its doors to the largest ever drag racing crowd in that state’s history.
South Australia is Australia’s fifth-largest state in terms of population with around 1.8 million people — that represents 7 percent of Australia’s population. It is some 380,000,000 sqaure miles in size and that makes it 40 percent larger than the State of Texas that has a population more than 29 million. Despite its small population, the “Crow Eater” state punches well above its weight.
The all-new track is situated one hour and twenty minutes east of the state capital, Adelaide, in a rural setting near the town of Tallem Bend. Drag racing began in South Australia on the 21st of November, 1965 at Brooksfield, just north of the capital. Seven years later, Adelaide International Raceway was opened a few miles south at Virginia and drag racing thrived there until its last race almost 55 years to the day on November 23rd, 2019.
The Dragstrip at The Bend is the latest discipline of motorsport to be run at The Bend Motorsport Park that includes an international motor racing circuit, a rally course, a karting track as well as two hotels and a trailer park. It is owned by the Peregrine Corporation that is a business run by the Shahin family that includes property investment, specialty stores and service station sites. Dr. Sam Shahin has made the Bend Motorsport Park his personal project and no expense was spared to build the dragstrip.
It was not a solo effort, as journeyman drag racing administrator Steve Bettes and a solid construction and marketing crew pulled off one awesome race track. Despite its country location the opening event, the ANDRA Springnationals, saw huge crowds attend the race. Saturday had 20,532 fans attending, with some 35,694 paying for admission over the weekend. The official opening saw South Australian Premier (the equivalent to America’s state Governors), Peter Malinauskas open the venue to the applause of the many.
The owner, the Peregrine Corporation’s main line of business is the OTR (On The Run) chain of BP gas stations, so when it came to ensuring the supply…