Gone But Not Forgotten – Australian Tracks of Yesteryear

Australia plays host to a number of internationally renowned motorsports events each and every year with Philip Island, Mount Panorama and Albert Park the most notable circuits on the motorsports calendar. But what about the tracks of yesteryear, the tracks that once held events which spectators would flock to in droves? What happened to these tracks and what lays in their place now? We will look to answer a few of these questions in this week’s blog.

Oran Park

Oran Park closed down in 2010 to make way for a housing development after almost 50 years of racing. The course held a reputation within both the car and motorcycle world as a tight, fast and unforgiving circuit which punished even the slightest mistake. The last Supercar race took place at the venue in 2008, in what also served as Mark Skaife’s final full time race event, Rick Kelly went to win the final race of the weekend while Garth Tander took the round win. Unfortunately, as a result of the housing development there’s not really anything left of the track at Oran Park, with only the street names such as Moffat St, Seton St and Peter Brock Drive to represent the racing of yesteryear.

 

Surfers Paradise Raceway

Racing in Surfers Paradise began long before the days of champ cars, the Indy 300, A1 Grand Prix and Supercars as we know them today. Way back in 1966, Gold Coast Businessman Keith Williams (of Sea World fame) decided to build a co-existing race track and drag strip in Surfers Paradise. The popular track hosted weekly drags as well as the ATCC, Tasman Series and even the 1975 Australian Grand Prix with drivers such as Peter Brock, Dick Johnson, Allan Moffat and Bob Jane racing at the track regularly. As with Oran Park, Surfers Paradise Raceway was demolished to give way to the ever-expanding urban sprawl. Of course racing still continues in the form of Supercars on the iconic Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, so not all racing has been lost in the city.

 

Catalina Park  

Opening in 1960, ‘The Gully’ as it was commonly known was one of the nation’s more treacherous racing circuits including rock walls, cliffs and a narrow track right in the heart of the blue mountains. As a result of its mountainous location, fog issues ensured that many race days encountered scheduling issues. While racing stopped at the venue in 1970, the track was utilised for one lap dashes with single cars up until the 1990’s. In 2002 the site was declared an Aboriginal place.

Lobethal

Considered by some to be Australia’s Spa-Francorchamps, Lobethal was a fast, flowing street circuit in South Australia. The almost 14km course ran through the towns of Charleston and Lobethal, with scores of spectators basing themselves at the local pubs to watch the racing. The 1939 Australian Grand Prix was raced on the Lobethal circuit, with racers completing 17 laps in the scorching Australian summer – a number of cars were unable to complete the race. The final race meeting was held in 1948, before closed-street racing was banned altogether by the South Australian government.

Have you driven or raced around any of these circuits? Or do you have a favourite Australian circuit that’s no longer with us? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments section below.

2016 Motorsport Season Wrap Up

When it comes to the automotive world, it definitely goes without saying that we at Rare Spares are suckers for Motorsport. Whether it be the iconic Supercars (formally V8 Supercars) or the Touring Car Masters, we can’t get enough of fast and furious four wheeled action. Here we will take a look back at some of the series my exciting moments and how they finished up.

Last year the Supercar series went through, some big changes, one of which was dropping the V8 name from the series to make way for turbo charged vehicles. However, the year was not without incident. Who could forgot the Red Bull poster boys Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen fighting at the front throughout the season, until the second last round in New Zealand where one punted the other, sending Van Gisbergen sliding off the road. This Supercars season also saw the first full-time female racer in decades enter the series. Simona De Silvestro was a former Indy Car racer and with her impressive wild card entry in the 2015 Bathurst, she was locked into a three year deal in the Australian category.

Some other big moments saw HRT move to Triple Eight with Holden choosing the team over Walkinshaw Racing, ahead of the development of their new 2nd generation Supercar. The biggest story would have to go to the events that took place at the Bathurst 1000. Will Davison and Jonathon Webb were named the Bathurst champions after a dramatic end to the race in October. Whincup was stripped of his first place result due to a 15 second time penalty that was applied post-race. The series ended up being taken out by Van Gisbergen after an extraordinary display of skill and ability throughout the year.

The Touring Car Masters also provided nothing short of a thrilling series once again, with high horse power and classic metal never failing to impress. One of the most memorable moments would go to the man Glenn Seton taking out the title for the first Trans-Tasman challenge. The Touring Car Masters and Central Muscle Cars went head to head at Mount Panorama for an incredibly exciting race which saw the Thunder Road Racing Team Australia driver claim his third TCM race win at Bathurst and fourth of the season.

The series also provided some valiant efforts with Eddie Abelnica ending a 64 race streak without a Touring Car Masters race victory, thanks to a brilliant performance at the stunning Phillip Island GP Circuit. Abelnica powered his Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon hardtop to the win from fourth on the grid, passing Glenn Seton, Jason Gomersall and John Bowe in an outstanding display of steering. The Touring Car Master season title went to none other than Rare Spares ambassador, John Bowe, after he recorded his eighth race win of the year with an 80 point lead ahead of second place winner, Eddie Abelnica.

With such an exciting season of Motorsport behind us, we are lucky to have such a vibrant and passionate automotive scene and with 2017 in full swing, we cannot wait to see what this year will bring!

Summer Loving - Australia’s best driving roads (Continued)

Australia isn't called the lucky country for nothing, we have great weather (in some places), a thriving automotive culture and world class scenery at our doorstep. So when it comes to the great Aussie road trip, we really are spoilt for choice. Here we will continue our list of amazing drives, just in time for summer.

 

The Nullarbor Plain -Western Australia (pictured above)

If you have a few days to spare then we suggest heading off from Ceduna in SA and head west for 2000km to Perth through the wide, almost treeless, landscape of the Nullarbor. It may be dry and known as a harsh environment, but it’s surely no desert. The flowing wooded hills flatten out to plateaus that are sprinkled with bluebush. Kangaroos line the roads and giant wedge-tailed eagles patrol the skies. You’ll probably need a four-wheel-drive if you plan to leave the highway, but otherwise it’s easy driving with plenty to take in. 

Kuranda - Queensland (pictured above)

If you take off from the tropical beaches of Cairns, it won't take long before you are experiencing the incredible World Heritage listed rainforest air around the mountain retreat of Kuranda. We suggest keeping your windows down along the route to truly take in the humming of thousands of cicadas from among huge buttress trees as  well as the sounds of the birds that call the rainforest home. 

Uluru to Kings Canyon - Northern Territory (pictured above)

This three hour drive along the Lasseter Highway from the red rock to Kings Canyon will provide you with true blue red earth country and skies bigger than you could ever imagine. You can also take the trip starting off at Alice Springs and take on the Red Centre Way. You’ll need about five days, with stops at historic towns and ancient rock art sites, not to mention the odd wild camel, this is one special journey.

Sydney to Melbourne

Most of the time this trip is made by budget airline, but did you know that choosing the four wheeled option can be a lot more fun? Expect a string of quant coastal towns, wild camping spots, vast national parks and turquoise lagoons. The lovely scenery is complimented by plenty of beaut fishing spots, birdlife galore and many kangaroos who regularly pose for photographs beside the surf at Pebbly Beach.

With all these great spots to check out, we say fill up the tank, throw in your swag and get to adventuring! What's your favourite drive? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!