6 March, 2024

Karts return to Hopetoun

Go karts will again be heard roaring around the track in Hopetoun, 30 years after the last official race at the track.

By Contributed

The track was popular in the 80's and a lot of fans came to watch these drivers battle it out.
The track was popular in the 80's and a lot of fans came to watch these drivers battle it out.

The reopening planned for March 10th follows over 2 years of hard work by club members to restore the track to its former glory.

As most great ideas do, it all started over a beer in the pub when a couple of blokes decided to buy karts and have a bit of fun on the old track 4 kilometres west of Hopetoun. Someone else overheard and said they’d join, and then word soon spread so much that there was enough interest to reform the Southern Mallee Kart Club which had been in hibernation since 1994.

The next step was then working out how you restore a track that hasn’t been used in 30 years up to current standards. That’s where the Hopetoun community and surrounding towns stepped in.

Perhaps remembering the good old days of watching karts cruise around, or the memories of state titles held at the track, locals from all around the Southern Mallee ensured the donations came in thick and fast.

Materials, equipment and willing volunteers weren’t hard to come by as everything got an update. Incredibly toilet blocks, fencing, gravel, lawn mowers, concrete and even some grandstand seating were all donated to the cause. With a little help from some grant funding, the community have so far contributed around $290,000 to the track redevelopment since January 2022.

And so karts will officially be on track on March 10 as the club holds a social practice day. But it won’t just be locals getting into the sport for the first time in earnest – the independent model adopted by the club means that racers will be travelling from as far as Mildura, Geelong and everywhere in between thanks to the cheaper karting on offer. The model employed so successfully at Geelong Kart Club means that karting will be drawing in extra visitation to Hopetoun, a town of 690 people.

Karting began officially in Hopetoun in January 1966 on an oiled dirt track at its current location just outside Hopetoun in north-western Victoria with just the 4 karts on track using engines plucked off Victa lawn mowers.

The club, then the Hopetoun Kart Club, ran successfully for over a decade and even held the state dirt-track championships in 1968.

After a lull in racing, the early 1980’s saw the creation of the Southern Mallee Kart Club and the task of building a bitumen track was taken on in conjunction with the local council.

Though on the shorter side, the track quickly gained a reputation as a thoroughly enjoyable and technical track affording overtaking possibilities, a reputation that continues to this day.

Until racing finished in 1994, the club held the Southern Mallee Titles every year, and also hosted the 1988 Victorian Open Sprint Championship with over 400 entries.

During this time, some future big names also raced at the track including Russell Ingall, Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup, Todd Kelly, Cameron McConville, Stephen Ellery, Drew Price, John Pizzaro and Remo Luciani.

Local racers also had a great deal of success – club members John Wade and Jason Carra were among state junior champions, and one of the last winners of a race at the club Ash Mitchell is still racing, claiming the 2022 Victorian Country Series title.

"With Mum and Dad racing go karts since I was about 2 or 3 yrs old, I spent a lot of time at the go kart tracks" Ash said.

"Growing up at the SMKC (Hopetoun) track, I started racing Rookies in 1986 at the age of 7. I began racing in mum's kart which was so much different to what I race now."

"It will be amazing to be able to get back on the track I learnt to race at now that I am in the Masters class (over 40's)."

The social practice day planned for Sunday March 10 marks the completion of stage 1 of the track redevelopment.

The club is inviting all previous members of the Southern Mallee and Hopetoun kart clubs to cut the ribbon as the track is reopened. Members will also set their sites on the remaining infrastructure required to hold races again, meaning that the Southern Mallee Titles can return, and perhaps even the newly established AASA Victorian State Championship.

Anyone wanting to get involved in karting at the Southern Mallee Kart Club can find more information or register at

Track walk at 10am: Reopening at 10:30am: Karts on track at 11am

Northern Loch Recreation Reserve, Hopetoun-Yaapeet Rd, Hopetoun


Most Popular