The Bend Motorsport Park, Tailem Bend – first impressions.

22 Apr


I made it to The Bend for Round 3 of the Australian Superbike series and the Asian Road Racing Champions at the brand new Tailem Bend circuit owned by Mr Shahin of On The Run fame. My fellow riders and I arrived early, our route – Freeway to Mt Barker, Nairne, Kanmantoo, Monarto, the Old Swanport Rd to Jervois and a ferry trip across the Murray. I’m glad we arrived early (approx 8:30am) as later there were long queues testing the rudimentary ticketing system. My tip, buy your tickets online and print them off before you go to the track. The bikes went to the front and the cars queued. Further evidence that the motorcycle is the only way to travel, but I don’t need to tell you that! The only downside was thick fog approaching Murray Bridge all the way to Jervois which ensured large damp patches on my jeans as well as heightening my paranoia of kangaroos jumping over the road.

The sun came out and soon burnt off the early morning fog. The main grandstand building is fantastic, it incorporates a motel with doors that open out immediately above the pit lane/grid/finish line! When I say grandstand, I didn’t see any actual seating area for the public, but there were open platforms on the roof which which offered excellent views of the action. We enquired of the cost of one of the motel rooms and were advised about $400 a night. This is a great facility especially for interstate race crews and riders. Under the motel is the secretary’s office and a large open area which includes a display of race cars and a couple of old bikes (Benelli & Douglas). There were coffee facilities available in this area too with costs the same as regular cafe/bakeries. Our group, being wise and experienced race goers, self-catered, so can’t comment on the standard of food which was on sale. One fellow, who I bumped into reckoned that his burger was as good as anything that Tailem sold – I’ll leave it to the reader to decode that one.

We watched a couple of races from one of the viewing areas next to the motel above the pit lane then moved up to the BIG area on the next level up. This was the pick of the viewing areas, in my opinion. The only problem being a lack of shade as the light coloured tiles reflect the heat. Mindful that the circuit is a brand new facility, these are teething problems only. To our left along the main straight was another raised viewing area, but again no shade was on offer.
As I sought refuge in the shade at the back of the granstand, I met with fellow COMCC member Ian Roddie who was working as a photographer at the meeting and asked him how I’d get round to the opposite side of the circuit. It turns out that you can ride your own bike there, which was a bonus. Off we rode to another general admission area on the other side. This amounts to a viewing mound where the spectators have an excellent view of several bends at the northern end (bend 5). Rumours abounded that the organisers were asking $30 to drive your car onto this mound. There was no signs of this when we arrived, but the facilities in this area were very rudimentary – a couple of portaloos, so I don’t understand why the organisers can charge for this.

There are many undulations on the circuit which, while challenging for riders are equally as challenging for spectators. For instance, there is no way you can see the action at the opposite side of the circuit from the large viewing area of the grandstand (probably OK at the very top, see photo below). Riders disappear from view. This happens at several other viewing locations around the track. The southern side has a grandstand among a series of bends (bend 17) and looks to be another good viewing point, but the grandstand didn’t appear to be complete and was not open. Overall, the circuit which is approx 4.95 kms (3 miles) long, is a world class venue or soon will be once all the early problems are sorted out. It has a very long straight and also an extra part of the track at the back which makes the circuit length around 7.77 kms (4.8 miles). I think this will be used for cars only. A walk along the rear of the grandstand exposes the backs of all the team garages and spectators were free to wander around and see all the action there too. There were trade tents and many other tents setup as garages for the race riders.

I have it on good authority that the camping area is rock hard, so anyone who plans to camp there better make sure that they have a plush mattress and a mallet with some decent pegs. Alternatively, get a few mates together and rent a motel room trackside. It was a 30 degree day and not much shade was on offer. Once a few trees are planted and shade areas are installed for spectators & marshalls, this will be a comfortable venue. As long as punters are able to ride their bikes around the outside of the circuit, there should be no problems. I saw a go kart track to my right and apparently a drag straight is also planned at a later date.

Adelaide people should support and frequent this track, it’s only an hour or so from town and hopefully in the future it can attract more quality motor sport. We smoothly exited the venue and returned home more or less the same way we came.

Ride a lap of The Bend Motorsport Park with Troy Herfoss

The Australian Superbike Round 3 The Bend Motorsport Park