CELEBRATING OUR 60TH ANNIVERSARY
MALLALA MOTORSPORT PARK
Mallala's 60th Anniversary Celebrated in style
MALLALA Motorsport Park’s 60th anniversary has been celebrated in style, a strong crowd flocking to South Australia’s longest-serving circuit to celebrate the milestone anniversary.
Founded in 1961 and staging its first race in August that year, the circuit has been a staple of the sport in South Australia and hosted key events including the Australian Grand Prix, Australian Touring Car Championship / Supercars and much more.
The two-day event was attended by several thousand people, comprised of competitors, volunteer officials and enthusiastic spectators who enjoyed (mostly) fine weather across the weekend.
More than 160 cars ultimately took to the track - split between to racing categories, three groups of super sprint competitors, drifting demonstrations and parades of classic sports and muscle cars that represented Mallala’s history.
A show and shine plus a collection of historically significant racing cars and displays from the South Australian Aviation Museum – to signify the bases’ history as a Royal Australian Air Force base – were also highlights.
A ‘Legend’s lunch’, featuring former Mallala circuit manager Gordon Sweeney, SA Motorsport icon Glen Dix and racers Dean Canto and Simon Wills – who each claimed their Supercars Development Series titles at the venue two decades ago – offered guests a look through the circuit’s history and place within the sport.
On track, Asher Johnston held out young-gun Jayden Wanzek to claim his fifth Ryan Pannowitch Memorial trophy in a tense 15-lap final that was a highlight of the day.
Starting from pole, Johnston was slow away and had to battle his way to the lead of the race on the opening lap of the race.
The pair spent the remaining 14 laps nose to tail, while trading fastest laps, Wanzek biding his time before trying to work his way past when the leaders found lapped traffic - at the tail end of the 41-car field - in the closing laps.
Johnston, however, was strong enough to hold on and record a victory by less than a car length.
“That was as tight as they come! Jay was putting the pressure on for the whole race so it was a really good battle all the way through,” he said.
“The lapped traffic made things interesting at the end and gave him an opportunity get even closer, but in the end it was great to get the win.
“This event is our grand final and the most special one to win, and the fifth one feels just as good as the first, especially after a race that close.”
The battle for third position was equally competitive as a three-car train fought out for the final spot on the podium.
Lee Stibbs ultimately grabbed the final trophy; but had to work for it after swapping positions with Andrew Hobby and Bradley Coleman on numerous occasions throughout the race.
Coleman was in a strong position before a wild moment at turn two saw him spinning off to the infield.
Ethan Fitzgerald finished fifth, while Mitchell McGarry, Shayne Nowickyj, Shaun Pannowitch, Nick Scaife and Brad Gartner completing the top 10.
In the Combined Sedans races, David Lines (VT Commodore Saloon Car) and Wayne Williams (Ford V8 Ute) split the overall wins, while Darren Jenkins led home the HQ Holden field in both races.
Peder Holst (VW Golf), Darren van Diemen (GR Yaris) and Andy Wortmeyer (Mazda MX5) topped their respective SuperSprint groups throughout the day.
The Adelaide Classic Motoring Festival continues next weekend with the third annual The Bend Classic, set to take place at The Bend Motorsport Park on the September 4-5 weekend.
The event will include an array of cars spanning nearly a century of motoring, from 1920s historic cars through Formula One machinery and current open-wheelers and Touring / GT cars.
More information about that event can be found at thebend.com.au
Mallala 60th Anniversary
28th - 29th August 2021
WHAT'S ON AT THE EVENT
DISPLAY + CRUISE
$25 Per car
Enter your own special machine into The Mallala 60th Anniversary Cruise + Paddock display. All vehicle genres welcome!
Now includes a cruise around Mallala at controlled speeds!
Club/Group bookings: contact us here
Mallala Legends Sunday Lunch
We have assembled a group of South Australian motorsport legends including Glenn Dix, Dean Canto, Ross Almond, Bruce Heinrich and Simon Wills to take part in a Q&A panel chat, together with a light lunch.
See historic memorabilia including Clem Smith’s Charger sports sedan and Supercars from the final round held at the venue in 1998.
Cost is $15, with proceeds going to the Mallala Lions Club. Sunday Only
1941 where it all began
In 1959 it was determined that the Port Wakefield circuit was unsuitable for the scheduled 1961 Australian Grand Prix. With new high standard motor racing circuits being built interstate it was decided a new race circuit closer to Adelaide was required. With the sale of the RAAF's 24 Squadron operational air base at Mallala to a group of motorsport enthusiasts, the Mallala Motorsport Park was born, hosting its Premier Race meeting on 19th August 1961.
Since that time Mallala has hosted everything from the Australian Drivers' Championship, drifting championships and burnout comps, to the Australian Touring Car Championship (including V8 Supercars).
The RAAF base at Mallala was built in 1941 during World War II. The base was used by the military, primarily as a flying school, until it closed in 1960.
1961 MALLALA MOTOR RACING CIRCUIT WAS BORN
The Mallala Race Circuit, as it was originally known, was built on the site of the former Mallala RAAF Base. The venue was built by a group of enthusiasts as a replacement for the closing Port Wakefield Circuit. The venue opened on the 19th of August 1961, with the following meeting being the Australian Grand Prix on 9th October 1961.
The original track distance was 3.4km in length, but reduced to 2.6km in late 1964.
Mallala was South Australia's home of motor racing from 1961 through to 1971 and hosted a round of the Australian Drivers Championship every year through that period. The track also hosted The Australian Tourist Trophy in 1962 and 1968, as well as the single round 1963 Australian Touring Car Championship.