Keith’s Diesel and Dirt Derby draws thousands to country town


Posted

March 25, 2018 16:01:15

Only a few years old and Keith’s annual Diesel and Dirt Derby has grown to host more than 11,000 people — swelling the South Australian town to almost 10 times its size.

Jet boat racing, tractor pulls, header smashes, buggy races and a 50-tonne Centurion tank all play a part in the unique event’s success.

Event organiser Glen Simpson is surprised by how much the south-east South Australian town’s derby has grown.

“We’ve sort of created a monster now, it’s a lot of work but it’s really good,” he said.

“I don’t know how we can keep making it bigger and bigger.”

The event is predominantly staffed and organised by volunteers and community groups, and Mr Simpson said profits were put back into the community.

“It’s great to put Keith on the map for a real positive reason,” he said.

“All the profits go back into the local community, all the community groups are working here so it’s tremendous.”

This year camping near the venue sold out, with thousands pitching a tent and putting money into the town.

Mud, sweat and beers

Last year, the enormous crowds drank Keith’s only pub dry.

Owner Tony Griffin, said he wouldn’t make the same mistake this year, stocking up to prepare for the thirsty punters.

“The first thing we ran out of was water — believe it or not — because we just underestimated,” he said.

“This year we’ve had to take a bit of a punt, load up and I guess we’ll work it out at the end of the event.”

Even politicians get in on the action.

For the second year in a row, Federal MP Tony Pasin — whose electorate of Barker covers Keith — competed in the header smash.

In one of the derby’s headlining events, Mr Pasin faced off against non-political opponents, ultimately finding himself stuck between headers.

Jet boat world series destined for Keith

Jet boat racing has become one of the derby’s main drawcards, after organisers created an artificial course at Keith’s showgrounds.

The town, which is about 75 kilometres inland from the ocean, does not have any natural lakes or rivers, so organisers applied for a water licence and now pump water into the course.

“We wanted something unique and different,” Mr Simpson said.

“One of my mates said ‘there’s no way you can do jet boats in Keith’ and that’s how it all started.

“Had to prove him wrong.”

A world series of jet boat racing will be held in Keith at the end of the year — a rarity for a town of only 1,300 people.

“We’re expecting about 15 boats from overseas, so it’s going to be a huge weekend,” he said.

“It is a real unique thing for Keith.”

Topics:

sport,

community-and-society,

community-organisations,

rural,

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