Crowd slump could see Adelaide 500 scaled back

Scaling the Adelaide 500 back from four days to three isn’t off the table after last weekend’s event produced the lowest crowd in 17 years.

The season-opening Supercars round brought just 206,000 people through the gates between Thursday and Sunday, the lowest total tally since moving to a four-day format back in 2004.

That included a drop in Sunday numbers from 91,500 in 2019, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined the post-race entertainment, to 66,000 this year.

Speaking with Triple M radio in Adelaide on Monday, Events South Australia executive director Hitaf Rasheed said detailed research will be conducted into the slump.

She also didn’t rule out a move back to a three-day format, last used in 2004.

“I think 200,000 across four days, in anyone’s terms, is still great numbers,” she said.

“And it’s still the jewel in the [Supercars] crown along with Bathurst, we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

“But it’s tough times. Consumers’ tastes are changing, they don’t necessarily want four days of racing, all day, every day. So we have to look at what consumers are looking for there.

“Some of the races around Australia have knocked a day off. Our research, to date, hasn’t told us that that’s the right thing for us. But again, we go through the process at the end of each event, we debrief, and then we’ll see what we think is the best outcome for everyone.”

Supercars is already looking at dropping its sole Thursday practice session, first added to the schedule last year, based on feedback from teams after hosting both the mandatory pre-season test, and the opening round, on the same week.

Teams tested at The Bend, just over an hour out of Adelaide, on Tuesday, before that first practice session in the state capital on the Thursday afternoon.

According to Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton, the decision to combine the test and the race this year proved to be a “false economy”. 

While the move did turn what would have been two trips into one for teams, the trade off was that everyone was on the road for over a week.

Between changes to aero, engines and dampers, and three teams adding additional cars for the new season, Dutton reckons there would have been a category-wide benefit to being able to return to the workshop between the test and the first race.

“It’s been a long week,” he told

“It’s a false economy; people think it saves money, but it doesn’t.

“We got through it, but I think… we had three teams expanding to more cars, brand new dampers throughout the field, wheel nuts had to be upgraded… we had all of these factors, and they didn’t give teams time to do a test day, go back to base, iron out kinks, work on parts and engineer things.

“Every team pushed on pretty hard.

“I’m not saying next year it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, but for this year I don’t know if it was the right call.”

Dutton clarified that the team hadn’t apportioned any of the blame for Shane van Gisbergen’s Sunday woes, including a refuelling blunder, on the workload.

“I’m not saying that because of mistakes that happened on our car,” he said. “They were just mistakes that we’ll rectify.”

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