It’s official, Canberra needs a race track

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Breeding to go in the pit lane at Wakefield Park Raceway, near Goulburn. Photo: James Coleman.

The people of Canberra have spoken.

According to a recent Media region poll, nearly 70 percent of Canberrans agree that local motorsport should be given a dedicated site.

And now I can confirm two things: it’s in the works, and it’s going to be a lot of fun and hilarious.

About 10 minutes from the center of Goulburn is the Wakefield Park Raceway, a 2.2 mile loop of tarmac where you can safely push your daily commute to the max.

Site operations manager Dean Chapman said the owners of Wakefield Park Raceway, Benalla Auto Club (BAC), as well as Winton Motor Raceway, Australian Auto Sport Alliance (AASA) and Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS) are ” interested in investigating the possibility of attending and being part of a motorsport facility in the Canberra area ”.

“We, as a non-profit automobile club, have a great deal of resources and experience in designing development permits for motorsport facilities,” he said. “We understand what it takes to make this viable.”

Porsche 911 GT3 RS in mid-flight at Wakefield Park Raceway

A Porsche 911 GT3 RS in mid-flight at Wakefield Park Raceway. Photo: James Coleman.

ACT currently houses a go-kart track, a speed track, a hill climb circuit and a driver training circuit. The only thing we’re missing is a specially designed race track, and Dean says the demand is definitely there.

“The revenue would be higher and we would expect a lot of high profile events at a Canberra-based motorsport facility,” he said.

Right now, Wakefield Park Raceway sees everything from Super Truck Racing Australia and Australian Superbike Championship races to driver training courses, race meetings and track days.

On April 26th, I attended one of the regular track days supervised by Fifth Gear Motoring.

The track as it is was opened in 1994 and is described as a “mixture of technical corners and relatively short straights” which makes it ideal for testing “the driving ability and set up of the car, rather than necessarily reward those who have the most power “.

This is great news for me in my stock 2013 Mazda 6 Wagon. But despite being overtaken on all sides by Porsches, Lotuses, Nissan Skylines, BMWs, Audis, Fords and even a McLaren, everyone is extremely polite and enthusiastic.

We’re all here to talk about engines, go around and have a good old time.

Cars at Wakefield Park Raceway

Part of the competition at Wakefield Park Raceway (not that it is a competition). Photo: James Coleman.

OK, there is a little more than that.

To get started, you’ll need a helmet, although Fifth Gear Motoring can provide one for the day. Long-sleeved clothing and closed-toe shoes are also required.

A race track is obviously not a normal public road, and it comes with a few caveats. A standard driver’s license has no weight here, instead you must be issued with a racing license by Motorsport Australia. This can be purchased for the day on site for $ 35.

Regardless of the size, your insurance policy will not include motorsport activities, so any incident will be your responsibility. If your car is still under warranty, it’s also best to cover up the license plates, as manufacturers have been known to void the warranty if your car is found to have been around the clock.

The upside is that you’re statistically safer on the track than on the road – and that’s a statistic you can feel.

Cars on track at Wakefield Park Raceway

We’re just going to ignore the cars ahead of James (out of scope). Photo: James Coleman.

Yes, you can sometimes go over 140 km / h and the tires can scream in protest around every corner, but not only is the tarmac wide and the surroundings completely devoid of street furniture, you are also surrounded by locals. same opinion as you.

No one is wasting precious neurons on what was just said on the radio, or how sausages should be cooked for dinner. Everyone is only thinking about how to drive the best they can.

Kim, a pilot trainer at Fifth Gear Motoring, accompanies me for one of the sessions and directs me to perfect my car’s control, race lines and braking points. At the end of the day, this family wagon was flying.

A major criticism of having a motorsport venue like Wakefield Park Raceway here in Canberra is that rather than taking the streets out of the suburbs, it could only encourage them.

I am here to say no.

You leave the track with shocking helmet hair, shiny brakes, and a slightly sparkling engine, but with a better understanding of your car and how to drive it.

You see normal roads with new eyes, ones that perceive narrowness and congestion and how quickly things can go wrong.

If Canberra gets a new lead, we’ll all be happy and everyone will win.


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