Back-to-back blows for iconic event

SPECIAL VIEWING: The Pines Enduro offers some of the best viewing for spectators in the sport in Australia.

By Trevor Jackson

IN a blow for the Limestone Coast off-road racing fraternity, the 2021 Teagle Excavations Pines Enduro was this week cancelled due to Covid-19 border restrictions with Victoria.

It is the second year in a row the 42-year-old event has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Just last week the event was set to go ahead, but the decision came after a committee meeting on Monday night, only three weeks out from the start date.

Teagle Excavations manager and race committee member Kurt Stephan said it was a disappointing but necessary decision.

“Entries have been open for the last few weeks and we had plenty enter but as usual the majority come from Victoria,” he said.

“With the border situation and closure, those competitors are unable to come over to attend the event and for that reason it became unviable to run.

“We work on it for nine months of the year in the lead up, so to have the same outcome as last year is very disappointing.”

Leading up to the event Stephan said there had been plenty of interest from competitors, with some holding out for the worst-case scenario, which unfortunately unfolded.

Many of the Victorian competitors entered through the online portal quickly once entries opened, hoping border restrictions would ease so they could compete.

Stephan said the decision was also based on allowing time for suppliers and assistants for the event could find something else to participate in, rather than hold off until the 11th hour before making the call.

The disappointment was clear for Stephan, who said much work had gone into the planning for this year’s event.

“All the track planning had already been done and we had gone through One Forty One and Forestry SA to get approvals,” he said.

“We have carried out a fair bit of work over the last couple of years in the quarry to provide the best spectator arena possible.

“A lot of time has also gone into the racing regs and everything else, so it is certainly disappointing.”

The event has been run by the Millicent Sand Buggy Club, through a sub-committee over the last 42 years.

The only times it has not run have been due to Covid-19.

Despite the disappointing news, there is no doubt the event will continue into the future.

“The last order of business on Monday night was to set the first meeting to start the event preparations for next year,” Stephan said.

“Without a doubt the intention is to carry on and run an event next year.”

Each year competitors converge on the Limestone Coast from all states in Australia and even from New Zealand, such is the popularity.

Stephan said it is known to be one of the hardest events to compete in and one of the fastest.

The added feature of the quarry section close to the Millicent township has been welcomed by spectators, which Stephan said was not just for show.

“It is the only event in Australia where spectators are treated to the type of viewing they can at the Pines Enduro,” he said.

“Everything the competitors do in the quarry counts towards total time.

“During the Sunday racing every lap and the distance they complete coming into, around and out the quarry all counts towards total race length.

“To have that elevated viewing platform set up is a bit special.”

Another unfortunate scenario relates to the South Australian Tourism Commission.

“We hope SATC continues to support us,” Stephan said.

“It is the second year in a row we have been fortunate enough to get a grant and the second year in a row we haven’t been able to use it and had to hand it back.

“We put in the work, applied for grant funding and had been awarded it.

“That is a bit of a shame.”