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HomeNewsGone without a trace: the Surfers Paradise racetrack

Gone without a trace: the Surfers Paradise racetrack

THIS weekend the Repco Supercars Championship cars will wind their way around the concrete-lined streets of Surfers Paradise in the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500.

The track style, vehicles and form of racing is a far cry from that which the previous Gold Coast championship venue hosted back in the days of Group A touring car racing.

That venue was Surfers Paradise International Raceway and today, not a single trace remains of this former championship venue.

Closed in 1987 and destroyed in 2003, the site of the old Surfers Paradise International Raceway has since been redeveloped as the Emerald Lakes canal estate.

WHERE AND WHEN: 2022 Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 on-track schedule

Located within a very short walk of Metricon Stadium (home of the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns), the Emerald Lakes estate today bears absolutely no resemblance to how it once appeared as a racing track.

V8 Sleuth recently visited the site and snapped a range of photos of how it appears today – and if you’re a racing fan you’re going to be disappointed!

V8 Sleuth’s Aaron Noonan with the Emerald Lakes marker stone. Not a single mention of Surfers Paradise International Raceway within site! Picture: an1images.com / Jaylee Noonan

It appears that there is absolutely no marker stones or plaques anywhere within Emerald Lakes of its motorsport past – not a single sliver of anything that informs or educates on the history of Surfers Paradise International Raceway.

There’s a range of display panels documenting the history of sport in the Gold Coast region over the years that are displayed outside Metricon Stadium a short walk away that were installed for the Commonwealth Games in 2018, however they also completely omit any mention of the area’s motorsport history!

When V8 Sleuth visited in September this year, the only racing connection we could find was some remote-control yacht enthusiasts racing their mini crafts on the man-made lake within the precinct!

However, we’re told if you go into the housing estate at Emerald Lakes from the east, there is a large map on the wall showing the track and its relative position to the site today. If there’s any V8 Sleuth readers from the area, we’d love to see a photo of this map!

A view within Emerald Lakes looking across to where the back part of the circuit once sat. Picture: an1images.com / Aaron Noonan

It was in 1987, 35 years ago this year, that Surfers Paradise International Raceway hosted a round of the Australian Touring Car Championship for the very last time.

The circuit, opened in 1966 and closed later in 1987, was a 3.219km (two mile) circuit designed and built by Keith Williams, who later went on to design and build Adelaide International Raceway.

The Surfers Paradise circuit hosted some of the greats of Australian and world motorsport at events including the Tasman Series, the 1975 Australian Grand Prix for Formula 5000 cars and the Rothmans 12 Hour for sportscars and, later, production cars.

The circuit hosted the ATCC in 1969 and then every year from 1971 to 1977 and 1979 to 1987.

Jim Richards heads Larry Perkins at the Surfers Paradise round of the 1987 Australian Touring Car Championship. Photo: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

The last ATCC round held at the circuit was on Sunday May 31, 1987, a week later than its originally intended date due to a common problem the circuit had over its history – it was flooded!

Jim Richards took his JPS Team BMW M3 to victory over OXO Sierra driver Andrew Miedecke and JPS teammate Tony Longhurst, however Miedecke was excluded post-race as his team was given a one-month suspension for using non-homologated turbo components and Glenn Seton’s Skyline was elevated to third position.

Fans of hometown heroes Dick Johnson and Gregg Hansford were left disappointed. The former’s Shell Ultra-Hi Sierra blew a turbo on the opening lap and the latter’s lasted just a few more laps before it too popped.

Racing returned to the Gold Coast four years later in 1991 with the debut of the Surfers Paradise street circuit and the arrival of IndyCars in Australia.

V8 touring cars first played support at the event in 1994 and returned to race in 1996 to 2001 (they were renamed V8 Supercars for 1997) before the event was elevated to V8 Supercar Championship points-paying status in 2002.

But the venue that came before it, Surfers Paradise International Raceway, can only now be found in the history books …

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