After four years of negotiations with the Victorian government, members of the $450 million Australian drag-racing industry have had their requests for a purpose-built track in Melbourne – once a centre of championship drag racing denied.
Australian National Drag Racing Association project director Gary Miocevich said discrimination was the only way he could explain the government’s response to a sport so popular among working-class Labor voters. ”They just don’t understand it and they don’t like it. Maybe we are a bit tough electorally – coming up to an election, maybe they want to talk about law and order, education and health, not drag racing.”
The grounds of dismissal remain unclear as an independent study commissioned by the government in 2008 recommended investing in a drag track as it would give a $190 million annual boost to the state’s economy. Further more findings concluded it would provide safe off-street drag racing, support driver education and provide a secure outlet for young people to participate in motor sports. The report also predicted the return of industries that moved to Sydney after Calder Park became unsuitable for drag racing in 2001.
Instead of backing the benefits out-layed in the report the Sports Minister James Merlino commissioned yet another study claiming the feasibility of the first was in question as “there wasn’t enough information”.
Now the minister is refusing to release the results of the second study.
The government instead released a PowerPoint presentation to The Sunday Age that unveiled two interesting details. The cost of a track had risen from $38 million to $60 million and the government had decided ”it is difficult to ascertain what, if any, impact a new drag-racing strip would have on the economy”.
Revved-Up to Rally!
Thousands joined a rally at the Melbourne Showgrounds this Saturday 20th Feb to ask Premier John Brumby to back a purpose-built track. Organisers said 16,400 people attended the Motorvate car show and rally.
Among them were Geoff Harris, 60, and his grandson Corey Harris, 18 months. Mr Harris said a drag racing venue would ”get all the young blokes off the street” and provide a place for car lovers to enjoy their hobby. ”We’ve been painted as hoons for far too long, and it’s just untrue and blown out of all proportion. We consider we have a very viable sport that would bring back a huge industry to Victoria.”
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The minister’s staff say the sport can be staged at its former home at Calder Park. Mr Miocevich, who is involved in the $20 million Perth drag track, said it was ”dead and buried” as a venue because houses had been built within 500 metres. The industry’s favoured site is at Little River, but it is on land covered by an international treaty to protect wetland birds.
As it stands fans of the sport are left wondering whether their wheels will have a place to race!

Inga Yandell
Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.