THE pending closure of the Blue Dot Speedway is an important step towards realising the long-held dream of turning Griffith into the home of motorsport in the Riverina, according to mayor John Dal Broi.
Council moved last week to shut down the run-down and derelict track formerly the home of the Griffith Speedway Club to allow the redevelopment and expansion of the adjacent landfill at Tharbogang.
While this would leave motorsport in Griffith without a facility, it is expected the closure will bring forward plans that date back to 2007 for a multi-use development on Slopes Road that would become a one-stop-shop for local rev-heads.
Discussions between council and various clubs have ramped up over recent months and Dal Broi believes the closure of the Blue Dot Speedway which has been associated with motorsport in Griffith for over 25 years is a key step towards making it happen.
"I've had discussions with the interested parties. When I met with them we did say that as council expands its waste business up there, we need the extra land," he told The Area News.
"We know there was a lot of volunteer work going into it over the years and I don't want to see that work disappear, so we would certainly assist funding-wise, we imagine, to establish a new facility.
"The land we're looking at will make it secure for the future there won't be any issues over council wanting to take it over or anything.
"Now this has happened we will then proceed to the next step and look at formalising an arrangement."
Dal Broi warned the Slopes Road project was still subject to funding and an environmental impact study, but the location has been earmarked for motorsport since 2007, when council offered the land package to Griffith's numerous motorsport groups.
Vice-president of the Riverina Drag Racers, Kevin Foster, said he was glad to see the back of the Blue Dot Speedway - especially if it brings the multi-use facility closer to reality.
"We're not losing a facility. It looks like a dump, it's next to the dump and council want to reclaim it for the dump. It's commonsense," he said.
"It opens up this door that otherwise would not be opened.
"The drawing in front of council at the moment caters for all of motorsport - off-road cars, off-road motorcycles (enduros), remote-controlled dirt cars, speedways, drag racing, burnouts, everything.
"At the moment there's nowhere in Griffith, or anywhere in the area, that caters for any of them, let alone all of them. It's a positive move if we can get the funds to make that happen.
"We've been trying to make it happen in Griffith for 20 years. John's pretty well behind it, he sees the positive aspects but he's bound by what council wants.
"It's a long way off yet, but we've got to wait and see which way the chips fall."
The Riverina Drag Racers have been homeless since they were barred from racing at the Narrandera airport in 2007, and have been forced to travel to compete ever since.
David Jackson, the ex-president of the semi-active Griffith Speedway Club - which he said has approximately a dozen members - claimed council has "been trying to shut us down for years".
"They just want that bit of dirt to put more rubbish on, and that's that," he said.
"The club's been in decline and always has been since they put the weighbridge out there.
"If you've got a soccer team or a touch footy team you'll get whatever you want from the council - but as soon as you put a racecar out there they don't want to know about you."
However, council documents reveal the Speedway Club's lease on the site lapsed in January 2010 and that it still owes over $10,000 in unpaid loans, general rates and water charges.
"We've tried desperately to contact the executive (of the Griffith Speedway Club) that we've had on our books but nobody came forward," Dal Broi said.