Diesel and Dirt Derby has come a long way from when it attracted only 500 people
The town of Keith this year sunk a bore, dug a track at its showground and hosted the opening round of the Australian Jet Sprint Championship as part of its fifth annual Diesel and Dirt Derby.
More than 10,000 spectators turned out for the event in March, which also included country motorsport contests such as tractor pulls, buggy racing and a header demolition derby. The tractor pull event was run as a championship round of the Australian Tractor Pullers Association.
It was the first time V8 jet boat racing had been held in South Australia since the Currency Creek track was used more than a decade ago.
A number of improvements are being made to the Keith track and surrounds, which is again scheduled to host a round of the championship at the derby in March next year. The town is also hoping to host a round of the World Series in October or November next year.
The success of the event was recognised with the Community Award at the Brand South Australia Regional Showcase gala presentation in the town of Whyalla.
The Keith Diesel and Dirt Derby has grown in popularity every year since it began as a fundraiser for the struggling Keith & Tintinara District Show in 2012. With a population of about 1200, Keith is 250 kilometres southeast of Adelaide and almost 100 kilometres from any major body of water.
Diesel and Dirt Derby committee chairman Glen Simpson and other community volunteers became involved almost a decade ago in a bid to turn around the fortunes of the struggling annual show.
“When we got on the committee they had $400 in the bank,” he said. “It took a couple of years to turn it round but we got some sponsors and increased the gate numbers from hundreds up to thousands.
“Then we introduced a Diesel and Dirt Derby as a fundraiser for the show – we started off with 500 people the first time and it’s grown.
“It’s great recognition for all the volunteers and the hard work that all the locals put into the event – it can’t happen without the volunteers and the community groups.”
The organisers are aiming to attract up to 13,000 people next year.