• Jack Ward

Engines fall silent

Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.


THE echo of engines revving across town and the smell of burning rubber will be absent from One Tree Hill this November.

PHOTO: The King of the Hill has been running since 2008 at One Tree Hill.

Ararat Car Club announced this week that their annual King of the Hill event will be unable to proceed under current restrictions, and with the South Australia border still closed.


Club vice president, Chris Harwood, said the weekend-long battle between Victorian and South Australian drivers is the latest to be canned in 2020.


“We were scheduled to have three hill climbs this year, as well as having some smaller motorkhana events throughout the year. With COVID-19 coming in, we haven't had any racing of any sort this year at all,” he said.


“It's been very challenging. We've always strived to have safe events for people locally, and not so locally, to come and test their skills out in their vehicles.”


The King of the Hill first begun back in 2008 between the neighbouring states, in an effort to take home the Peter Hall Memorial State of Origin trophy.


“It's hotly contested but unfortunately this year, with the border restrictions still in place, we're not able to get the South Australians over,” he said.


“We generally get around about 80 competitors, and when you add in spectators, pit crew and officials, it works out to be about 400 or 500 people.”


Mr Harwood said estimations predict that Ararat will have missed an injection of about $300,000 for each hill climb cancelled this year.


“Events we generally have on are two-day events. We've done that because it injects a lot of money into the local economy because people have to stay somewhere,” he said.


“Usually when we have our King of the Hill event on, most of the accommodation is usually well booked. Everything from caravan parks, right through to Airbnb’s and motels.”


At the moment, events can only occur with a maximum of 10 people, so even if the border between the two states was to open, Parks Victoria is not looking to approve any permits for larger events until December at the earliest.


“We run safe events, we want to continue to keep running a safe event and we can't run a safe event in the environment that we're in at the moment,” he said.


The club will continue to run smaller motorkhana events with groups of 10. Two sessions will be held tomorrow at the Ararat Airport, but spectators are unable to attend.


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