Better On The Track Than On The Street Eh?
Many of the places I enjoyed going to last century have been devoured by urban sprawl, and what was once considered “fun” is now banned or illegal.
As a result the things I took for granted as a young bloke are now lost to the new generation. Restrictive and prescriptive laws (we must protect ourselves from ourselves), progress, political correctness and the need to be seen to be doing the right thing, have made it harder for young people to experience life to its fullest.
Things like jumping off the railway bridge between Penrith and Emu Plains into the Nepean River or messing around in the mud lakes near the Penrith Weir were normal… and fun. In my late teens and early 20’s I enjoyed heading out to the local drag strip or motor-racing circuit for the weekend, either as spectator or to take part. Places like:
- Castlereagh International Dragway – 70km (44mi) west of Sydney : Closed 1984.
- Amaroo Park Raceway (Annangrove) – 40km (25mi) North West of Sydney: Closed 1998
- Oran Park Raceway (Narellan) – 65km (40mi) South West of Sydney; Closed 2010
These three venues were all replaced with what is now called the Sydney Motorsport Park (Eastern Creek) – 40km (25mi) West of Sydney.
It’s true all three venues had passed their use by date, and it would have cost a fortune to bring them back up to an international standard. It’s also true that the land they occupied was more valuable as housing developments, than as race tracks.
When I moved to Brisbane, Surfers Paradise International Raceway at Cararra 80km (50mi) South of Brisbane had already closed 2 years earlier (1987). This left only Lakeside International Raceway at Lake Kurwongbah, 35km (22mi) North of Brisbane. Alas it too was closed in 2001.
Both of these venues were replaced by the Queensland Raceway (affectionately know as the paperclip) at Willowbank, 50km (31mi) West of Brisbane in the late ’90’s.
The reason Surfers and Lakeside were closed was because residents in new housing estates were complaining about the noise…
Err… hel-lo… Surfers was established in 1965, and Lakeside has been there since 1961, it’s not like the new residents weren’t aware of their existence before moving in.
Be that as it may, after much lobbying and legal too-ing and fro-ing Lakeside was re-opened in 2008. Now known as Lakeside Park, the track is limited to track days, driver/rider training and local meetings, all of which have noise restrictions of 95db or less.
The 95db noise restriction means that there will never be National or International events held there again, which is a pity because it’s a great track. Even Mick Doohan 5 time 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix World Champion once said “If you can learn to race a motorbike at Lakeside, you can compete at any race track in the world”
Even with the restrictions in place , Lakeside is a great place to go and hone your skills. All you need is a roadworthy bike which meets the noise restrictions, a legal lid and a set of leathers. Oh… and the readies to pay for your entry.
Track marshals and an emergency management response team are on hand in the event that something goes pear-shaped. Riders are split into groups based on experience and or capacity, and groups are big enough to provide that race feel yet small enough to have some degree of safety.
Better on the track than on the street eh?
You’d think so, but Lakeside is again under threat of closure even though there is a 30 year lease arrangement (there is a 10 year get out clause). Several other venues around South East Queensland are also under threat.
It’s hoped that this petition can prevent the loss of these venues. If you’re local to South East Queensland, I urge you to spread the word and show your support by signing the
(Opens: May 20, 2014 – Closes: August 25, 2014)
Footnote: I apologise for the quality of some of the Lakeside photos, I think I messed up the shutter speed or something.