Sam Daniele
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The first national open off road event in South Australia was the “BP Gulf 250″in 1978 organised by the Adelaide Buggy Club. The track was located Baroota near Port Germein and was conducted on the long weekend in January. The event only had a short life concluding in 1981. It’s location, some 3 and a half hours west of Adelaide became too difficult for competitors from the eastern states. The time of year was a big contributor to it’s demise, with the temperature at times reaching 52 degrees in the shade. The event was run on the track still being used today for inter-club events as well as the 2nd round of the South Australian Off Road Championship which attracts up to 60 entries. The track is used for a number of events during the year and is still a popular venue to this day.

Two events were conducted in the south-east of South Australia they were the now defunct “Green Triangle” which was held at Naracoorte and the “Pines Enduro” which is run in the pine forests near Millicent in the South East and is the longest running off road event in South Australia celebrating it’s 25th year in 2002.

The “Green Triangle Enduro” was first conducted in 1979 and was organised by the Naracoorte District Car Club and was to be of 6 laps of a 40 km course. The first event had 85 entries.

The”Pines Enduro” organised by the Millicent Sand Buggy Club, for years was the only round in the South Australian Off Road Championship iit has since been joined by the Baroota event. The “Pines” is the only event of it’s type in South Australia that does not have a prologue and runs the classes in reverse order (sedans 4WD’s first followed by buggies class 3, 2, 1 9) this has proved to be a popular formula throughout the years with 2002 being the first year to include a prologue although still within classes.

Waikerie in South Australia was the venue for the ‘Waikerie Riverland 400″. It had it’s first running in 1980 as an open event running under the Adelaide Buggy Club banner eventually taken over by the newly formed Waikerie Riverland Off Road Association. From 1981 it became a round of the Australian Off Road Championship. In the early years the loops were around 85 kms and it was regarded as a track suited to all types of vehicles with the sedans and 4WD’s particularly enjoying the long straights. In later years the loops were reduced to around 65 kms when land became unavailable for some reason or other. The de-salinization of the Murray River took a huge section of the track causing the pits and start to be relocated on at least 2 occasions. After the 1992 event it was decided it was no longer a viable option with the loss of more land, although the remaining sections of land are still used today for Multi Club status events and is a hugely popular venue.

In 1993 The “Blue Lake City 400” event kicked off, considered to be the South Australian round of the Australian Off Road Championship although Mount Gambier was attached to the Victorian CAMS office. After being Secretary for the “Waikerie Riverland 400” event for 13 years, Denise Strawbridge and her Festival State Off Road Association organization initiated the “Blue Lake City 400” event. The event was located a short distance from Mount Gambier with the pits and spectator area overlooking an amphitheatre type section of the track which was used for the start/finish and provided some exciting views of off road racing. The event ran through the Festival State organization until 1996 when a conflict occurred and the event was taken over by the Mount Gambier Off Road Club led by Adrian Ferguson, unfortunately it ceased running a couple of years later.

South Australia (geographically) does not have a round of the Australian Off Road Championship anymore, but CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) in their wisdom have included Alice Springs as being under the umbrella of the SA CAMS office. Alice Springs have in 2002 taken on AORC status for their event “The Finke Desert Race’ traditionally held on the June long weekend.

The Tailem Bend Rallycross was a very popular venue in South Australia combining off road cars with traditional rally cars with the buggies usually coming off better.

Off road racing has been running in South Australia since the 60’s. The clubs in the early days were Gawler Road Knights Car Club, Summit Racing Team Car Club and Onkaparinga Ramblers Car Club who were all part of the South Australian Auto Buggy Association (SAABA). In 1976 some members of the early clubs got together and formed the Adelaide Buggy Club and were the first to join CAMS. Millicent Sand Buggy Club was followed by Waikerie Riverland Off Road Association and Spencer Gulf Off Road Association.

Some of the tracks used in the early years were Gawler Top Track, Careys Gully, Lameroo and Langhourne Creek (famous for it’s relay race). Other tracks are Lameroo (different location), Alawoona, Wynarka, Mount Templeton and the new Sedan venue.