The Ponde Sand Drags is rightly famous as the place it all started. The V8 drag bikes debuted there years ago and continue to hold a fascination for anyone with the faintest glimmer of interest in horsepower. For those who like their racing stripped of bullshit, this is the place to be. However, any organisation, from BHP to the local darts club, needs to keep reinventing itself—for the existing members and for the potential new blood—to keep interest up. It’s no good settling for past glories—hell, we were in the toughest gang in school but what does that mean today? You have to appeal a new generation if you want to survive—and that’s just what Ponde has done with the inclusion of the Moto X crowd. For the more traditional Ponde crowd, Saturday night bands played good old rock ‘n’ roll; the Moto X crowd had their own bands on Friday night. A good sort of compromise so neither camp felt left out and a golden opportunity for Faultline, Adelaide’s favourite band, to celebrate its 21st anniversary in style.
There was a vague sort of line separating the Moto X crowd from the Jack Daniel’s crowd, very porous and completely informal, but at one time or another we all found ourselves away from the accustomed T-shirts, jeans and vests and deep into a territory inhabited by people in luridly coloured and extravagantly logo-ed padded suits. Or vice versa. And you can’t help but get a kick out of that.
Apart from the excitement generated by the Hells Angels Racing Team, Trenchcutter Racing, the Predator syndicate and various categories of racing, in the best Ponde tradition there was always more: The younger riders shooting up ramps to fly impossible distances and land, usually upright, on a 20’ dirt hill; the quad bike that flipped backwards in a dry dam, ridden by someone who ‘wanted to check its limitations’; the club prospect with a gymnast’s balance bouncing around in the back of a truck with his off-the-cuff remark, ‘Careful? Yeah, I forgot about that.’
One facet of Ponde that will never change is its role as a meeting place for like-minded people. It’s somewhere you bump into the people you don’t see often enough and keep up to date with the next few months’ activities.
In a nod to the days when aerobatics champion Chris Sperrou used to thrill the crowd, Brad from Hells Angels Adelaide parachuted from a height that made him an unrecognisable tiny speck to land smoothly and precisely on the drag strip.
Friday night saw invitations to a club show later in the year, a hotrod speed trial, an interstate poker run, and another sand drags event; all of which will no doubt be attended by a mixture of hard core Harley riders and up and coming Honda riders.
There were quite a few long faces when the Ponde Music Festival had its final fling, with people saying it was the end of an era. True, but if you think about it, an era only ends when a new one starts. The transition of Ponde from the home of a raucous and exciting three-day concert to a more laid back event focussed primarily on two-wheeled motorsport is now complete. Over the next few years the new look Ponde is bound to get bigger and bigger as a new batch of riders make use of the space, the facilities, and the unbeatable atmosphere the club and the place offer.
words & pics by Chris Randells.