The Dry Lakes Racing Association’s (DRLA) 30th anniversary Speed Week at Lake Gairdner in South Australia is the latest motorsport event to fall victim to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The event was scheduled from March 23-27 with the World Speed Trials Australia #2 set for same venue from March 28-30. Both have been postponed to a date yet to be fixed.
Speed Week had attracted 236 entries with up to a dozen international drivers and riders set to take part.
While most of the international teams’ vehicles and equipment has arrived, Sunday’s Federal Government announcement of an automatic 14-day quarantine period for all international arrivals into Australia was the final nail for the event.
Organisers had also been instructed that, should anyone at the event was to be found infected by the Coronavirus, everyone in attendance would have to be quarantined on site for 14 days, according to DLRA President, Greg Wapling.
“We really have one of the most remote events in the world and to be left in such a situation would have made everything virtually impossible,” Wapling told Speedcafe.com when asked about an on-site quarantine.
“There were so many factors working against us, but the automatic 14-day quarantine for anyone coming into the country was it (the final nail).
“Basically any of our international competitors and their crews arriving in the next couple of days would not have come out of self quarantine until the event was already done.
“After exhausting all avenues it is with great sadness that the DLRA has come to the realisation that to conduct Speed Week and WSTA for 2020 has the potential to put people at risk.
“We can assure everyone the decision has not been made lightly.”
While the possible exposure to the Coronavirus was an obvious consideration, it was also a lack of availability to medical and safety teams because of a local, state and national drain on resources which also played a role in the final decision.
“The strategies that are being deployed to combat this virus by government and other organisations is placing enormous demands on a finite group of specialists,” said Wapling.
“Originally we had planned for three doctors to be in place for the two events, but as of today we only have one and there is no guarantee that even he will be available by the end of the week.
“Similarly, the South Australian Country Fire Service is calling on its members to reduce their extracurricular volunteer activities as they are forced to replace members who have been inflicted with the virus.
“We could no longer guarantee the appropriate medical and fire services that are required for such an event.
“Now that the Coronavirus has been officially identified as a pandemic, most public liability insurance policies consider any episodes to be exempt which would leave the DLRA open to financial ruin.”
The nature of salt lake racing means that Speed Week can only take place at certain times of the year.
All the international teams are permitted to have their vehicles in Australia for a 12-month period and organisers are looking to accommodate them within that time period.
“To our international entrants, we are truly sorry, but with the recent introduction of the 14-day self isolation for anyone entering Australia, it has made competing impossible for many of you,” said Wapling.
“There will be more information made available in the days to come and we ask everyone to bear with us while we regroup and plan for the future.”
Wapling hinted that an event in November could be a possibility, but suggested that everything was a day-by-day proposition.