from the Queensland Superkart Club August newsletter – www.qldsuperkart.org
We all love our motorsport and enjoy it for a variety of reasons. Some of us do it purely for fun, while some of us are very competitive and strive to win or improve as much as possible. Others enjoy the social aspect of being involved in the sport with like minded people. Some just love to go and watch some great racing, whether it be top level professional racing or grassroots motorsport.
Unfortunately, it is a sport that suffers for an increasing lack of quality facilities in areas that are accessible to the broad population.
History also demonstrates that when population growth and development encroach on the areas where our motorsport facilities are located, all too often these facilities are forced to close down to make way for “progress”. In other cases, the facilities remain but have noise limitations placed on them that either place financial burdens on them by limiting the number of events they can hold or eventually force them to close.
Building a quality motorsport venue requires a very significant investment as well as finding appropriate land. So, when these facilities close, they cannot just be replaced easily if at all.
Over the years there have been some amazing race tracks that have been closed to make way for development. Most of these have not been replaced with new facilities.
With these issues in mind, its hard to see how it makes sense for some of the remaining venues to make large investments in improving their facilities or even to maintain them as well as they might like.
Many of these now gone facilities not only catered to motorsport, but also provided other benefits for tourism and driver training.
With many of our big motorsport events now focusing on street circuits, the grass roots movement is slowly but surely being left behind.
Just recently, one of South East Queensland’s best grass roots venues has been forced to close. This great facility hosts a number of racing events to support the local racing community and is also a major tourist attraction on the Gold Coast.
If you’d like to read more about Xtreme Karting and their current battle there is a Facebook group that is raising awareness and support for Xtreme Karting’s current situation. Visit HERE.
Last year the QLD government held an inquiry into recreational motorsport. A copy of the Committees’ report can be found HERE.
Now, we take a look at some iconic race tracks that are sadly no longer.
Anyone who has followed motorsport in Australia knows Oran Park.
It was a fantastic track which also featured an option for a shorter circuit which involved a hard left-hand turn to exit the main track after the bridge and hosted sprint kart racing and help to kick-start the careers of people like Mark Skaife.
Here’s a couple of videos of Superkarts at Oran Park in back in the day.
The circuit was opened in February 1962 on farmland owned by Dan Cleary, who also provided the earthmoving equipment used to help build the circuit. Originally the track was 1.6 km in length and was later extended to 1.9 km again to its final length of 2.62km in 1974.
Oran Park was a complete motorsport complex comprising a motocross track, drag strip, skid pan, 4WD course and a dirt track. It was a fantastic spectator track as well with most of the track visible from around the track.
The track officially closed in early 2010 after being sold to the NSW government to make for a housing development.
Oran Park hosted the Australian Grand Prix twice and hosted numerous categories including Trucks, motorbikes, sprint karts and Superkarts. Don’t forget to check out the links above to get a feel for what it was like to steer a Superkart around this awesome track.
The outright lap record was set by Tim Leah in a Reynard 92D Holden with a time of 1:01.6718. Compare that to the HQ Holden Series lap record of 1:27.6977.
Surfers Paradise International Raceway
Surfers Paradise Raceway was an iconic track built alongside the Nerang River. Built in 1966 it included a dragstrip along the main straight and a quarter mile speedway in the infield.
Prior to The Chase being added to Mt. Panorama, the right hander going under the Dunlop bridge was the fastest and most challenging in the country. It caught out plenty of drivers including Allan Moffat.
The Winternationals drag meet was at one point the biggest drag racing meet outside the United States.
The raceway was sold by Keith Williams in 1984 before closing in 1987 after 21 years of operation, with the final meeting held on the 27th of August. The circuit’s lap record is held by John Bowe with a time of 1:04.3 in the Australian designed and made Veskanda C1.
The circuit sat idle until it was levelled in 2003, making way for a housing development.
Surfers Paradise Raceway hosted the Australian Grand Prix in 1975.
Amaroo Park Raceway was a relatively short track at 1.9km which opened in 1967. Located in Annangrove, 42km North West of Sydney it struggled to attract spectators during it’s first 2 years due in part to poor spectator facilities which saw it close in 1968.
The spectator facilities were improved and the circuit was reopened in May 1970. The venue was now run by the ARDC, who also promoted Mount Panorama, and later Eastern Creek Raceway.
The ill-fated Super Touring Bathurst 1000 which the ARDC promoted from 1997 to 1999 hit the ARDC financially and this circuit was sold to recover money.
It had a lot of elevation change and this made it like a natural amphitheatre proving spectators great views of the track.
The complex had a hill climb, motocross track, speedway track and a short circuit track.
Along with the Australian Touring Car Championship, the track hosted other categories including the AMSCAR Series for touring cars. The ARDC created the series and it ran from 1982 until 1993. It became an integral part of the touring car scene which at the time had a lot of privateers competing. The series attracted large grids and was popular with race fans.
The last meeting held at Amaroo before its closure was in August 1998.
The lap record for the 1.94 km circuit was 0:44.36, set by John Bowe in 1987 driving the same 5.8L Chevrolet powered Veskanda C1 sports car he set the Surfers Paradise lap record in the previous year.