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Australian Jet Sprint Championship takes out major regional award

October 12, 2017

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 25th March event, which also included country motorsport contests such as tractor pulls, buggy racing and a header demolition derby.

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 while the tractor pull event was run as a championship round of the Australian Tractor Pullers Association.

The success of the event was recognised last Friday night with the Community Award at the Brand South Australia Regional Showcase gala presentation in the town of Whyalla.

Sustainable agriculture project Sundrop Farms won the Business Award while the Farina Restoration Group was presented with the People’s Choice Award for its work in the Outback ghost town.

The Keith Diesel and Dirt Derby, which has grown in popularity every year since it began as a fundraiser for the struggling Keith & Tintinara District Show in 2012.

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.

Simpson explained “when we got on the committee they had $400 in the bank. 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.”

After several tough seasons of below average rainfall and a long struggle to save the local hospital from closure, the farming community has not had a great deal to celebrate in recent years.

Simpson added “(the Award) is 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

“We’re aiming for up to 13,000 people next year, we’re making more viewing areas and updating toilets to try and ramp it up.”

For 2018, 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 on 24th March 2018.

The town is also hoping to host a round of the World Series in the second half of next year.

With a population of about 1200, Keith is 250 kilometres south east of Adelaide on the main road to Melbourne and almost 100 kilometres from any major body of water. 

Images: Action at the Keith Diesel and Dirt Derby (top and middle) and the Keith Showground (below).

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