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Motorcycle racing returns to Sellicks Beach

Levis Motorcycle Club member Reg Ellard races along Sellicks Beach in 1936.
Levis Motorcycle Club member Reg Ellard races along Sellicks Beach in 1936

Beach motorcycle racing, as depicted in The World’s Fastest Indian, is set make a long-awaited return to one Australian state with a strong motorsport history.

The Levis Motorcycle Club will host the two-day classic event at Sellicks Beach, South Australia, on February 18-19, 2017.

A field of 110 motorcycles manufactured before 1963 have entered to race across five classes – under 125cc through to 501cc – 1300cc. Sidecar races will also be held.

The oldest motorcycle club in South Australia began beach racing in the 1920s and held annual Sellicks Beach Speed Trials in summer through to 1953. Re-enactments were held in 1986 and 1992 but regular races have not taken place on the beach for more than 60 years.

Levis Motorcycle Club member Reg Ellard races along Sellicks Beach in 1936.

Levis Motorcycle Club Publicity Officer Steven Matthews said the decision by the local Onkaparinga Council to allow the event to go ahead was the culmination of two years of negotiations to address environmental and cultural concerns.

He said there had already been interest from interstate, England and New Zealand, one of the few places in the world where beach racing still regularly occurs.

“People are building bikes and getting them ready now,” he said.

“There will be some guys who take it very seriously while others just want to be involved so they can say that they’ve ridden the event.

“The beach racing is quite unique because it just doesn’t get done anymore and we’re really excited to see it coming back in this form.”

The 800m track – 400m in each direction with a 180-degree hairpin turn – is half the length of the original 1.6km beach circuit.

Organisers are expecting between 200 and 400 bikes to enter and a sell-out crowd of 10,000 people each day to attend.

“We expect the tickets to sell out within a couple of days because there’s been so much interest,” Matthews said.

“We’ve had lots of people already looking to enter bikes because it’s just such a unique opportunity to be involved.”

Sellicks Beach is about 50km south of Adelaide, the South Australian capital.

South Australia is home to the National Motor Museum, the Bay to Birdwood classic car rally, and is home to more than 100 car clubs and 39 motorcycle clubs.

Barossa Valley: Charley Boorman at the Birdwood Museum with Andy Caldecott's and David Schwarz's Dakar Rally bikes beach
Charley Boorman at the Birdwood Museum with Andy Caldecott’s and David Schwarz’s Dakar Rally bikes

Adelaide hosted the Australian Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995, and is the home of theClipsal 500, the only CBD street circuit on the V8 Supercar calendar.

The Levis club, named after the English two-stroke motorcycle, hopes a successful February event will lead to it being held every two years in the future.

Matthews said Sellicks Beach was well suited to racing because it had a pebble foundation under the sand, which gave it a solid base and prevented it from becoming boggy.

Levis Motorcycle Club Beach racing
Sellicks Beach (Picture: Katie Hannan)

“It’s quite a unique beach as it provides a really good surface to ride on and that’s why they started races there in the 1920s,” he said.

“We are very keen for this event to be successful in terms of looking after the environment and the cultural aspects and proving to people that it is going to work and not have any negative impact on the area.”

Exact dates for the event are yet to be announced.

(Story supplied by The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia.)