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What does the Canberra V8 Supercar street track look like now?

WITH a flight home from the Thrifty Bathurst 500 out of Canberra on the Monday afternoon after the event, I figured a good use of time would be to go and check out the street circuit that V8 Supercars raced on in the early 2000s.

It’s been some years since I was last in the Nation’s Capital, so I went and did some driving, walking and photo-snapping to document how the former V8 Supercar street race circuit now looks for V8 Sleuth readers.

And the good news is that, barring a few spots where the race cars drove on the wrong side of the road, you can still drive around all of the roads and avenues that made up this unique 3.9-kilometre, 15-turn circuit.

That’s a very different scenario from a range of other former championship tracks and circuit of which no trace remains – check out my story here on the old Surfers Paradise circuit from 2022 as an example of this.

Of the three Canberra events (it was known as the GMC 400 in 2000 and 2001 and Stegbar Canberra 400 in 2002), I only attended one of them – the 2001 round.

So it felt like a blast from the past to be pulling up in the carpark opposite the Treasury Building that 23 years ago I had stood among V8 Supercar race transporters given it was the paddock area.

My first location to visit was the old pit straight in front of the Treasury Building and a stone’s throw from the National Library of Australia.

The road here has been re-laid since my last visit to the location some years back, meaning the grid box line markings have all disappeared – such a shame!

The road peels around onto Queen Victoria Terrace through Turns 1 and 2 and then the unique ‘Bus Stop’ area out the back of the Old Parliament House.

My memory tells me that the exit corner from this section was really bumpy with a big dip that the cars used to bottom out in, but there’s no sign of that on the road as it currently is.

The exit of the Bus Stop with the Old Parliament House to the right. Photo: an1images.com / Aaron Noonan.

I parked up the hire car to get out and inspect it closer and it’s far nicer than it was back in the early 2000s!

That leads up to a short run into a pair of right-handers that sends traffic down Kings Avenue before another right-hander that runs onto State Circle and in front of Parliament House.

This road runs back underneath Commonwealth Avenue before another right-hander sends the cars down Flynn Drive.

There’s a roundabout further down this stretch of road that was made famous in 2001 by Marcos Ambrose’s Pirtek Falcon AU losing a wheel that proceeded to roll down the hill and land atop a tyre bundle in the roundabout chicane.

Barry Sheene’s classic commentary line was a ripper: “That’s what they call a control tyre!”

No rolling wheels here! Photo: an1images.com / Aaron Noonan.

The race cars ran down the wrong side of Flynn Drive to this roundabout, switching back to the ‘correct’ left side of the road on the exit before blasting further down to another chicane that sent cars into the last right-hander.

Running underneath Commonwealth Avenue for the second time, the track then leads back out onto the pit straight.

It’s this final corner – the race cars ran around on the inside road against the direction of regular traffic – where Garth Tander crashed in 2000, severely denting his chances to win that year’s championship.

I was able to stop and park in a range of different positions to get out and take photos of the various corners and track features, though no doubt there were a few Canberrans wondering what the hell I was doing!

The Canberra V8 Supercar street event was held just three times – from 2000 to 2002 – before its five-year contract was terminated shortly after the ’02 event with two years left to run.

There had been talk that the event could be moved to a warmer part of the year, however this didn’t come to fruition and the event was killed off.

The Queen’s Birthday long weekend had been selected because it was traditionally one of the quietest periods for tourism in Canberra – the weather was proof there was a good reason for that!

“Severe winter conditions have done little to show Canberra at its best and images of freezing fans huddling in the grandstands say it all,” said ACT Tourism and Sports Minister of the time, Ted Quinlan.

“Retaining the event in winter posed unacceptable financial risks to the ACT rate payer.”

And that was that!

The round also featured a unique element with a full reverse grid second race part of its format. The format returned to V8 Supercar racing in 2006 but was canned partway through the season.

The three rounds in Canberra were won by Steve Richards (2000), Steven Johnson (2001) and Mark Skaife (2002).

Richards’ Gibson/Kmart Commodore won the inaugural round with finishes of third, fourth and fifth and the race wins were shared between his teammate Greg Murphy, Holden Young Lion Todd Kelly and HRT’s Craig Lowndes. Richards, Lowndes and Neil Crompton stood together on the podium.

Johnson shared the podium in ’01 with Tander and Skaife while the latter shared the podium in ’02 with Kelly and Lowndes.

Canberra may not have a round of the current Repco Supercars Championship but there have been a few circuit concepts floated over time for its return.

The current grid features one driver from the Nation’s Capital, Matt Stone Racing’s Cameron Hill.

WATCH: 2002 STEGBAR CANBERRA 400 RACE 1

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