Mallala Motorsport Park was built in a hurry—but that’s a fitting start for a circuit that’s known as “the real driver’s track” due to it’s speed straights and highly demanding bends and curves.
Considered the home of South Australian motor racing, Mallala Motorsport Park has a rich history, starting life as an Australian Air Force base before hosting some of the most iconic events on the motorsport calendar. As well as being one of Australia’s premier professional race tracks, Mallala Motorsport Park is built to be enjoyed by the whole motor racing community.
Fans of high performance car racing can come down to Mallala to race, drift, practice and for the lucky few, experience the thrill and power of Adelaide’s favourite race track, with a Mallala V8 driving or hot lap experience.
History of Mallala Motorsport Park
The history of Mallala Motorsport Park is a story of necessity, speed and crafty maneuvering—both on and off the track.
It all began when South Australia was excitedly preparing to host the 1961 Australian Grand Prix but less than two years before the event, was given the news that the existing Port Wakefield track was too short for use.
A mad scramble began to find an alternative, which was a difficult feat given that at the time, Port Wakefield was the only permanent track in South Australia. It meant that an entirely new circuit would need to be built—and with little time to spare.
A decision was made to push through and pursue building a new track closer to Adelaide, so that South Australia wouldn’t have to wait five years to have another shot at hosting the Grand Prix.
While organisers scouted for a new site, an exciting proposition came up. The RAAF air base in Mallala was coming up for sale and would make an ideal location for a brand new circuit. Existing interior roadways could easily be incorporated into the track design and the air control tower was perfect to be turned into a race control tower. There was one problem though… The Australian Government wasn’t ready to sell until 1962. Way too late to host the Grand Prix.
Some master negotiations by the race organisers influenced the RAAF bureaucracies to dispose of the base a year early, only to find themselves outbid at the auction by the Mallala Pastoral Company. Refusing to give up, the car racing enthusiasts negotiated deals with the organisation, until they had full ownership of the former air base in April 1961. The persistent group of racing enthusiasts had six months to turn the air base into a professional circuit worthy of an Australian Grand Prix event.
With no time to waste, the base was cleared and a circuit built from the network of roads that once connected the hangars. Meanwhile a team of volunteers transported as much infrastructure as possible from Port Wakeland to the new site.
Somehow, they were able to get the circuit ready enough for a ‘try-out’ race before the Grand Prix. In August, 15,000 ecstatic fans packed the facility with Bob Stillwell winning the main event in a Cooper-Climax.
By the time of the Grand Prix itself, the team had done the impossible. The track was ready to go, and the event was a huge success. Cooper-Climax cars took out a clean sweep of wins and Mallala Motorsport Park’s reputation as a premier racing destination was well and truly cemented.
Throughout the 1960s Mallala continued to host major national events such as the Gold Star Championship, the Australian Tourist Trophy and the Touring Car Championship.
In 1984 the track was awarded a grade ‘A’ license meaning they could welcome Formula 2 races to the track. A raft of improvements continued and in 1989 the circuit hosted a round of the prestigious Australian Touring Car Championships. This is where V8 racing victories were hard fought for by the likes of legends Dick Johnson, Mark Scaife and Craig Lowndes.
In May 2017, the Peregrine Corporation who were developing The Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend at the time, also purchased Mallala Motorsport Park as an ideal companion.
Mallala became the perfect facility for nurturing grassroot motorsport interests in South Australia. For the ultimate Mallala Motorsport Park adventure, come down and drive a high-performance V8 race car for yourself. Either purchase a gift voucher or simply book a drive day, and you could be behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar or doing hot laps with a legend like John Bowe or George Hollywood Elliot!
Mallala Motorsport Park facts
- Today, Mallala Motorsport Park is the home to many national events including The Shannons Nationals, Australian Drift Grand Prix and Mallala Performance Nationals (MallaNats).
- Mallala Motorsport Park is a 2.6k m circuit featuring 10 corners.
- The Mallala Motorsport Park race lap record is 1:02.57 (Paul Stokell, Reynard 90D Holden, 1994, Formula Brabham)
- On 7 May 1989, Mallala had the honour of hosting the first ever Formula Holden race as part of the opening round of the 1989 Australian Drivers’ Championship.
Where is Mallala Motorsport Park?
Ready to come down to Mallala Motorsport Park? Whether you’re here as a spectator or for your own V8 racing experience, you can find us located near the town of Mallala, an hour’s drive north of Adelaide. Adelaide Airport is an easy drive. From the centre of Adelaide, simply head north along the A1 to Two Wells, then follow signs for Mallala.
Drive through the town and the circuit is signposted after around a kilometre. There is ample parking available around the site, including at locations overlooking the circuit.