Sign Up

Our Privacy Policy identifies how we handle personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act. Read it prior to submitting your information.

By clicking “Register” you agree to our Terms Of Use and Privacy Policy.

When Melbourne snatched the Australian Grand Prix

No one ever thought the Australian Grand Prix was going to leave Adelaide as it proved a favourite throughout the event’s decade-long run, but it did in fact leave and is yet to return after the final edition in 1995.

Formula 1 first came to Adelaide in 1985 and immediately emerged as one of the best of the season through perfect organisation, professional execution as well as the location close to the city.

The circuit within walking distance of Adelaide’s CBD allowed easy accessibility for fans and generally the weather proved perfect, maybe except for a couple of events during the early 1990s.

Not only was the Grand prix a favourite for the visiting internationals, but it arrived at a time when Australia was starting to come out of its shell as a tourist destination. Paul Hogan’s famous pitch to ‘put a shrimp on the barbie’ came following Australia II’s America’s Cup victory, while Crocodile Dundee was about to hit movie screens.

Adelaide was little known compared to the bigger cities of Sydney and Melbourne, but once the Grand Prix circus came to town it now became a destination city whether it be event weekend or not.

But just as Adelaide held a strangle hold on the Grand Prix, the rig was pulled from underneath the city when in 1993 plans of Melbourne’s coup to take the event were revealed.

In a $60 million deal kept secret for 12 months, Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett announced the Grand Prix was moving to Melbourne in 1996 around Albert Park Lake.

Signed three months before it was officially announced on December 18, 1993 after fighting off challenges from China and Malaysia (two nations set to hold Grand Prix events in the future) as a shattered Premier Dean Brown admitted Melbourne’s contract was watertight.

Negotiations between Bernie Ecclestone and the Melbourne Major Events Company received a massive leg up when previous South Australian Premier John Bannon resigned on September 1, 1992. Interestingly, Kennett was yet to be elected as the Premier of Victoria and plans were well in place when he was voted in.

Another lead player in snatching the race was chairman of the Melbourne Major Events Company and former Lord Mayor Ron Walker, who remembered as a boy the 1958 Australian Grand Prix held at Albert Park. Walker was the Liberal Party’s federal treasurer and a close friend of Kennett’s planting the seeds to pitch for the race.

An early announcement was put off to enable the South Australian Liberal Party to enter power with limited backlash, while Carlton and United Breweries elected to end its $2 million sponsorship of the Adelaide Grand Prix.

Albert Park received $14 million worth of upgrades including new pit facilities and changes to the surrounding roads.

And Melbourne has hosted the Grand Prix circus ever since.