On the eve of the return to Mallala for the MSCA Supersprints after a four month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to “Flashback” and have a look at the Sprite Club’s involvement at Mallala and circuit sprinting.
Sprites and Midgets were by design always going to be used for competition. From motorkhanas, racing and circuit sprints the Sprite Club of SA has always been involved with some form of competition.
During the early days of the Sprite Club members competed at both Adelaide International Raceway and Mallala Motorsport Park. While AIR was used it had a very long straight and lots of concrete walls, the open track at Mallala was more suited to Sprites and Midgets and but was licensed only for Club events and not races.
It was originally an RAAF Air Force base and was converted to a racetrack during the early 1960’s as a replacement for the Port Wakefield circuit. During the 1970’s restrictions to prevent motorsport activities were placed on the land and circuit. When Clem Smith purchased the circuit his first task was to remove these restrictions. By the early 1980’s these were removed and the circuit re-licensed to hold major race meetings including the Australian Touring Car Championship. He also invested many dollars into the circuit surface and other infrastructure. The improvements are evident in the various photos here, showing the openness of the pits and paddock and lack of sheds, etc in the early 1980’s.
The MSCA was formed in the early 70’s to give the smaller Sports Car Clubs of South Australia the opportunity to compete at the Mallala Motorsport Park and in Motorkhanas and Hillclimbs. With only a low number of members competing from each club, the individual members joined the M.S.C.A., allowing those drivers to compete in their cars. This organisation was the association of clubs such as Bolwell, Alfa Romeo, Fiat-Lancia, MG, Austin Healey and Sprite Clubs. This association has now increased to 18 clubs with Mazda MX-5, BMW and Nissan-Datsun active member clubs. Members could join the MSCA and compete in a range of events, saving each club hiring the circuit for just a few members. Now they could have a larger number of competitors at any time and share the expenses, reducing the entry and operation costs.
The Sprite Club of SA members have been actively involved with the MSCA as both competitors, members, delegates and particularly on the organisation committee. During the past 20 years Sprite Club Life Member Sue Stephenson, supported by her family, has been the MSCA Competition Secretary and has operated the timing for these events.
The MSCA circuit sprints have grown from events of approx 20 vehicles during the 1980’s, when we parked on the side of the circuit where the pit lane is and lapped with only three vehicles on the circuit at any time.
The MSCA was instrumental in developing the Supersprint format where up to 18 vehicles can be on the track at any given time, The cars are released in pairs and can have a drag race to Turn I, from then it a race against the clock to try and obtain the fastest time. There are also awards for the most consistent driver over the Supersprint Series.
Now there is a cap of 120 entries with a diverse range of vehicles competing, from pure race cars to standard street spec vehicles. During the 1980’s the fastest time of the day was Keith Rilstone’s V8 Bolwell Nagari lapping in the 1.25’s. Todays the Clubmans are lapping in the 1.15 – 1.18’s, Dean King’s Rotary-powered Sprite has clocked times even faster!
Super Sprinting is a reasonably safe way of competing, but occasionally something may go wrong either mechanically or sometimes there may even be contact with a concrete wall.
The Sprite Club members also assist with flagging at specific events each year and it is a chance to get up close to the action and assist the running of the event,
Driver Training sessions and Come’n’Try days often form part of the current MSCA Calendar to allow new competitors the safe way to try circuit sprinting and learn driver and car control at the same time, Many junior members and wives have also been actively involved with circuit sprinting over the years, so it not just something for the guys!
As the Clubbies SA group expanded during the late 1980’s they joined the Sprite Club to gain access to the MSCA and now form a large component of the Sprite Club’s representation at the circuit sprints. Quite often these and other Sprite Club members take home numerous trophies from the end of year presentation event
Super Sprinting as a ideal way to become involved with Motorsport competition, and the MSCA Supersprints at both Mallala and now The Bend Motorsport Park, provide an opportunity for Sprite Club members to become actively involved in both the organisation and most importantly getting your vehicle on the track.
To all of the competitors who have entered for this Sunday’s event we hope you have a great day!