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Mallala Set For Revamp After Peregrine Buy-Out

The Esses at Mallala Motor Sport Park. The Esses at Mallala Motor Sport Park,Picture: GTHO, CC BY-SA 3.0
 Neil Tipton
 Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mallala Motorsport Park is to be re-vamped in order to attract national-level racing and encourage the growth of state-level racing, according to its new owner the Peregrine Corporation.

A deal to purchase the facility has been concluded after the death of its long-time owner Clem Smith in February. Peregrine, run by successful businessman Sam Shahin, is developing the $100 million The Bend Motorsport Park at Tailem Bend, South Australia, and says its new purchase will help develop grassroots motorsport in the area.

Shahin - himself a racer in the Australian Carrera Cup - sees the two circuits as serving different clientele and are geographically separate enough to be complementary, rather than competitive with each other.

He told the Adelaide Advertiser: "Mallala Motor Sport Park has almost single-handedly sustained SA's motorsport population for decades and it is a terrific fit for our motorsport plans for the state. We want Mallala to be part of the renaissance of motorsport in SA and I call on all motorsport enthusiasts to clean their sheds out, dust their helmets off and to get ready.

"This gives us another venue to really turbo charge motorsport here; we can run major events, state series, state championships, and the circuit has landed in the hands of an organisation that is progressive and will continue to develop it and improve it," he added.

The Peregrine group is eager to update the circuit's infrastructure to enable the venue to become a player on the national motorsport scene once more.

Mallala, which was originally a RAAF air base, held its first racing in 1961, after being hurriedly purchased and turned into a racing circuit in order to host the Australian Grand Prix, after the Port Wakefield course was deemed to be too short.

In 1971 the property was bought by Keith Williams, who at the time was constructing the new Adelaide International Raceway (AIR). Rather than have competition between the two Adelaide tracks, Williams placed a covenant over Mallala, prohibiting its use for motorsport. Mallala lay largely dormant through the 1970s, though it did continue to be available as a test facility, used on occasion by Chrysler Australia.

Williams sold Mallala to a local farmer, who in turn sold it to Clem Smith in 1977.  Smith vowed to bring back motorsport to Mallala and successfully fought and overturned the covenent in the courts. In 1980, racing returned for motorcycles, followed by cars in 1982.

The circuit was then some-time host of the top level Australian Touring Car Championship up to 1998 and was also a mainstay of the Shannons Nationals series until 2015. The past two years have seen it struggle to attract national-level competitions, however, with drifting and motorcycle meetings being the mainstay.

Smith's death in February brought about the end of an era, but with the purchase by the Shahin family, Mallala looks set to shine on once again.

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