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Tuesday, May 28, 2024


AUSTRALIAN motorsport is fortunate to have many historically significant circuits.

Some, like Bathurst and Symmons Plains, remain part of the ATCC/Supercars Championship, while others, such as Lakeside and Mallala, live on at a lower level.

Unfortunately, others have fallen by the wayside completely; several a victim of urban sprawl, particularly with the expansion of Sydney.

Here’s our Top Five Australian racetracks we wish still existed.

Warwick Farm Raceway

The Warwick Farm layout proved challenging for cars big and small. Pic: an1images.com / Terry Russell

This 3.6km circuit was built in 1960 to complement a horse racing course at the same location to the west of Sydney, utilising its pre-existing grandstand and other infrastructure.

The car and horse circuits actually intersected twice, requiring temporary – and inevitably bumpy – crossings to be installed for the former track to operate.

Warwick Farm hosted the Australian Grand Prix four times between 1963 and 1971, as well as numerous rounds of the Tasman Series and Australian Touring Car Championship.

The car racing track closed in 1973, as owners the Australian Jockey Club elected against funding upgrades to the circuit’s fencing required by CAMS, while the horse racing course continues to this day.

Surfers Paradise Raceway

Dick Johnson leads Bo Seton during the 1979 Rothmans 300. Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

Not to be confused with the Surfers Paradise street circuit, this flowing, 3.2km Gold Coast venue was the brainchild of entrepreneurial developer Keith Williams and opened in 1966.

Its signature was its first corner; a high-speed right-hander under a bridge that represented one of the most demanding corners in the country.

In addition to hosting the Tasman Series, AGP and ATCC, the circuit conducted four 12 Hour races in its early days (two for sports cars and two for production cars) and was long the home of a touring car enduro.

The circuit closed in 1987 and was redeveloped into the Emerald Lakes estate, leaving little evidence of its history as one of Australia’s premier racetracks.

Amaroo Park Raceway

The final ATCC round held at Amaroo in 1994. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

This rollercoaster 1.9km Amaroo Park circuit in Sydney’s north-west was set in a natural amphitheatre, making it a dream for spectators as well as a challenge for drivers.

It was built by industrialist Oscar Glaser and opened in 1967. After a brief closure soon after establishment, it was taken over by the Australian Racing Drivers Club, which eventually sold the land for housing in 1998.

In that time the circuit hosted 15 ATCC rounds, including the first for the five-litre V8 machinery in 1993 that became known as V8 Supercars.

Amaroo was also the long-time home of the ARDC’s own AMSCAR Series and hosted a succession of touring car endurance races during the 1980s.

Oran Park Raceway

V8 Supercars farewelled Oran Park in 2008. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Located south-west of Sydney, Oran Park was established as a 1.6km circuit in 1962, before two extension projects resulted in the 2.6km ‘Grand Prix’ layout for which it became best known.

Uniquely in Australian motorsport, that included a ‘overpass’ bridge, which added to the track’s other signatures that included the high-speed ‘Dogleg’ and amphitheatre final corner.

Oran Park hosted 38 ATCC rounds and was the scene of several famous title deciders, as well as holding a touring car enduro from the late 1970s to the late 80s, two AGPs and even the World Superbike Championship.

It closed in early 2009 after being sold to the New South Wales Government for a new housing development, known as Oran Park Town.

Adelaide Parklands Circuit

The Adelaide Parklands Circuit in 2002. Pic: an1images.com

The only street circuit on this list, it remains hard to believe that the Adelaide Parklands is no longer part of the Australian motorsport calendar following the axing of the Adelaide 500.

Originally designed as a 3.8km layout to host the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix from 1985, it was considered by many to be the world’s best street circuit, running between Victoria Park and the city’s East End.

Three years after the Grand Prix moved to Melbourne in 1996, a revised 3.2km layout hosted the first of what proved to be 22 Adelaide 500s for V8 Supercars. The full circuit was also reprised for a sportscar race in 2000.

The tarmac for the circuit’s permanent loop in Victoria Park remains and has been used as a COVID-19 testing site during the pandemic. Hopes remain that the full racetrack will one day be revived.

Relieve the glorious history of the Adelaide Parklands Circuit with our new book, ‘Sensational Adelaide: An Illustrated History of the Adelaide 500’, available now in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.

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