For the first time in the 14 year history of the Tri-Series Coonawarra will not be part of the 2013 / 2014 schedule.
In his 4th year as the President of South East Drag Racing Association (SEDRA), Alex Van Leuven explains...
"Coonwarra is a temporary facility and once a year we hold a drag race on the local airstrip. It's very difficult to prepare a virgin track and provide enough traction for the cars and bikes. In the last 5 years or so competitors have gotten quicker and quicker and we can't guarantee a satisfactory racing surface."
While traction is a problem so is falling spectator numbers.
"Costs are also on the incline while spectator numbers are on the decline," said Alex. "We're not exactly sure why the numbers are falling. We did experiment with a change of date to March this year to avoid school holidays and employed an event organiser; neither had a significant impact on spectator numbers."
"If we had the spectator numbers we would keep going and make improvements. But at the moment we are simply eating into the associations reserves and we can't continue to run at a loss."
"Personally, I've organised the event at my own cost for many years, spending weeks of volunteer time which could have been spent in my sign business. I love drag racing but if the event doesn't turn a profit it's not a good use of my time or the association's money."
The decision not to continue was made a few weeks ago at the regular SEDRA meeting by an overwhelming majority vote.
"I'm disappointed obviously as we have tried so hard for the last 14 years. We've all made a lot of sacrifices to run the event. It doesn't sit well with me but it doesn't make economic sense to continue at this point in time."
The Tri-Series came out of a promoter's conference some 15 years ago based on idea initially suggested by Australian drag racing icon Dennis Syrmis.
With the departure of Coonawarra, the Tri-Series will now be named the "660 Drag Racing Series". The name change appears to provide flexibility to include more tracks and events in the future.
The 2013/2014 660 Drag Racing Series will include three events:
- 30th November 2013 Whyalla
- 27th January 2014 Mildura
- 9th March 2014 Whyalla