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Calder Park rebirth hits major milestone

THE rejuvenation of Melbourne’s Calder Park Raceway took another major step at the weekend.

For the first time in 15 years, the venue in Melbourne’s north-west hosted a Motorsport Australia-sanctioned race meeting.

Calder has been on the comeback trail over the last 12 months following a long dormant period.

The combined E30/Excel field races onto the main straight. Pic: Revved Photography / Motorsport Australia

Under the direction of Rodney Jane – the son of the circuit’s late former owner Bob – and management of Rowan Harman, Calder has ticked off multiple milestones.

It hosted a return race meeting under AASA sanctioning in mid-August, shortly before gaining a Motorsport Australia Category C licence for sprint and regularity events.

Further upgrades led to sign-off last week of a Motorsport Australia Category B2 licence, allowing the circuit to host race events up to and including state championship level.

The Turn 2/3 complex. Pic: Revved Photography / Motorsport Australia

That paved the way for the weekend’s MA-endorsed Vic State Race Series season finale.

The event featured Saloon Cars, MGs and Invited, Formula Vee, Series X3 Hyundais and BMW E30s, Porsche 944 Challenge, Formula Vee, Improved Production, and Combined Sedans.

MA track inspector David Stuart commended the Calder Park management for the work undertaken to get the circuit to the B2 level.

Porsche 944 Challenge action. Pic: Revved Photography / Motorsport Australia

“We’ve been working with the Calder Park management going back to last year,” Stuart explained.

“Their goal was to get the circuit back to a point where they can conduct races and attract clubs to come and use the circuit.

“They’ve done a lot of work between when we gave them the Category C licence and now.”

Catching air of the new Turn 5 kerb. Pic: Revved Photography / Motorsport Australia

Key work included rebuilding and improving various tyre walls, regenerating gravel traps, adding barriers on the front straight, extending run-off areas and tweaking the Turn 5/6 complex.

“We’ve remodelled the left-hand kerb at Turn 5,” Stuart explained.

“It now comes out further, to slow the speed coming off the hill through Turns 4 and 5, and also the terminal speed down into 6, where we’ve increased the run-off.”

BMW E30 action. Pic: Revved Photography / Motorsport Australia

The next step for Calder is to upgrade to a B1 licence, which will allow national level competition.

An A-level licence – which is separated into three tiers, corresponding to FIA Categories 1, 2 and 3 – is the final step to hosting major events and categories.

Achieving higher gradings will require more work on the circuit and its infrastructure, including areas such as the marshal posts, medical centre, race control and timing rooms.

MA-sanctioned racing is back at Calder. Pic: Revved Photography / Motorsport Australia

“I’ve been on-site a couple of times in the last few months and then been updated by the venue manager with photographs and conversations,” explained Stuart of the process.

“I’ll be down in Melbourne again soon and I’ll go back out and we’ll do another walk around to say, ‘we’ve got to this level, these should be the next things you put your focus into’.”

Regardless of those timelines, Calder Park is officially back on the Australian motorsport scene, which marks great news for the industry.

Calder is gradually being brought back to life. Pic: Revved Photography / Motorsport Australia

“Any time we can have another facility that we can run motorsport on is exciting,” added Stuart.

“We’ve got a new track happening up in Townsville (DriveIT NQ), they’ve got a Category C licence for that, they’re working towards Category B and further as funding comes.

“We haven’t had a new track built since The Bend (which opened in 2018), but to work with a team to bring one back online is very satisfying.”

While Calder’s rebirth has also included cars turning laps on the adjoining Thunderdome, the oval is not part of the MA track licence.

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