Blast from the Past – The Supercars tracks of yesteryear

In two weeks’ time the 2017 Supercars season will reach fever pitch as the championship comes down to the wire at the brand new Newcastle street circuit. The Newcastle circuit is undoubtedly going to prove to be one of the more picturesque racing locations on the circuit and a worthy replacement for the at times dull Sydney Olympic Park race. The Olympic Park location isn’t the first track in Supercars history to make way for a new and improved location, in this article we’ll take a look at some of the rounds that are no longer on the Supercars calendar.

Calder Park

Calder was staple on the ATCC and V8 Supercars throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and along with Sandown was one of two championship races within a stone's throw of Melbourne CBD. The Supercars utilised the ‘road’ circuit at the facility, bypassing the iconic Thunderdome, a feature which many feel could have added to the variety of racing on the Supercars calendar and potentially lead to a NASCAR style duel format of racing. Unfortunately racing ceased at the venue after the 2001 event when the racing surface and facilities were deemed not up to scratch. The circuit was also the scene of one of the biggest touring car crashes in recent memory when a young Craig Lowndes and his VT commodore went cartwheeling down the front straight after making contact with Steven Richards and Garth Tander.

Oran Park

Another iconic Australian racing circuit, Oran Park played host to battles from Brock and Moffat through to Ambrose and Skaife before closing down in 2008 to make way for a housing estate. A favourite of many drivers, the short and narrow circuit included one of the only ‘over-under’ bridges in Australian racing. Now unrecognisable to the average racing punter, the only remaining indicator of racing ever taking place on the site is the motorsport related street names.

Hamilton Street Circuit

Running between 2008 and 2012, the Hamilton 400 took the place of Pukekohe on the Supercars calendar and provided a happy hunting ground for 6 time series champion Jamie Whincup, who took 2 of the 5 race victories at the venue. The racing itself at the track was interesting enough, however bubbling away behind the scenes was a massive debate within the Hamilton City council when it was discovered the event had been operating at a significant loss in its final 2 years. Subsequently the event was relocated back to Pukekohe where it remains today as the Auckland SuperSprint.

Mallala

Mallala Motorsport Park flew the South Australian flag in the ATCC right up until 1999 when it was replaced on the calendar by the incoming Clipsal 500, which itself was also filling the void left by the Adelaide iteration of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. The track received mixed reviews from competitors with Dick Johnson openly criticizing the track’s lack of facilities and bumpy racing circuit; however such remarks were uncommon from Johnson who was renowned for being not much of a fan of any tracks outside of Queensland. On the other hand, Jim Richards suggested the tight track would even the competition up, ensuring close racing at a time when the RS5000 Sierra’s were dominating the competition. Racing at lower levels still takes place at the circuit; however with the passing of longtime owner Clem Smith earlier this year, the future of racing at the circuit is unclear.

With a number of other circuits coming and going over the years including trips to Bahrain, Texas and local circuits such as Amaroo Park, Lakeside and the Canberra Street Circuit the Supercars championship has spread its wings far and wide, we’re just scratching the surface!

Which former Supercars or ATCC circuit was your favourite? Which would you replace on the current calendar? Head over the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.

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.

House on the Hill – Checking out Mt Panorama’s Most Exclusive Property

Mount Panorama is one of the most well-known names in the world of Aussie motorsport, from Brocky to Bowe; the circuit has played host to some of the most breathtaking races we have ever seen. With the famous track also doubling as a public road for the majority of the year, there are a few residents who have the privilege of calling it home. However, with arguably the coolest property at Mt Panorama now on the market, you could join this exclusive club.

505 Conrod Straight is a quant 10 acre property that is situated right on Conrod Straight. The motorsport dream house is located at the rise of the first crest heading towards The Chase, making it ideal for viewing the fastest piece of bitumen in  the country. As you’d expect, property on Mount Panorama doesn’t become available very often so you will want to get in quick if you want to snap up a piece of automotive nirvana. Back in 2002 the circuit oasis, equipped with guest house, large garage and a pool, sold for $255,000. Now estimates are putting it closer to $2,700,000, so you better have some deep pockets if you plan on taking name to possibly the most unique address in Australia. 

Although many motorsport fanatics would dream of living in such a place, there will only be one very lucky person who can claim the title of “King of the House”. Owning such an incredible piece of land does come at a price, you would have to deal with your driveway being closed four weekends throughout the year, but when you have the best viewing position out there, we say that’s a pretty good compromise.

Would you like to live at Mt Panorama? Do you think you could control yourself living on Australia’s best race track? Head over to the comments section on the Rare Spares Facebook page to let us know!

The Lost Playgrounds – Revisiting Forgotten Race Tracks

The world of motorsport is the driving force behind many of our automotive passions, from Brocky conquering the mountain to drivers trying to be the fastest down the strip, the automotive landscape we know and love was built on the many scenes that exist within it. Unfortunately as time moves on and budgets deplete, these once famed automotive playgrounds turn to nothing more than bare concrete overrun by the earth underneath claiming back its territory. Here we will take a look at some of the forgotten racetracks that time has forgotten. 

Catalina Park – Australia (pictured above)

Starting on home turf, “The Gully” was a 2.1 km circuit which opened on February 12 in 1961 and was originally the home of top level motorsport during the 1960s. The mountainous location featured amazing scenery however it was prone to fog which regularly caused delays to races. The track was incredibly narrow by today’s standards and was surrounded by walls, railings and hillside. The tracks use decreased with the opening of other circuits closer to Sydney such as Oran Park and Amaroo Park and closed at the start of the 2000.  

Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track – Japan (pictured above)

Once upon a time this was Japans most famed tracks. Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track was built in the 1960’s to serve as Japans first official Formula 1 Grand Prix track, however it didn't take long before it began changing hands rapidly. First it was designated as a NASCAR track, and then it sold to Mitsubishi and later become Toyota’s property. With its high speed banked corners, Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track was abandoned after it was decided to be too dangerous for modern motorsport.

 

Valencia GP Circuit - Spain (pictured above)

Although this marvellous track may be one of the most recently built, it has still suffered a similar fate to those before it, with financial misfortune the cause of its demise The Valencia GP track was built in 2007 and was used as an official F1 GP track but failure to negotiate a deal with the F1, the owners soon abandoned the track in 2015.

When it comes to places to test your machine, there are plenty of well-known and exciting locations. However we feel that some of the super circuits, if only given a chance, could come back more exciting than when they left. 

What is your favourite racing track? Which ones do you have the fondest memories of? Make sure to head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page to let us know!