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Chequered flag falls on Oran Park

Submitted by on January 23, 2010

Oran Park was one of my favourite tracks. It really had to be as there weren’t many to chose from if you were a kid growing up on Sydney’s North Shore!  When I was a boy my Dad, Ray, would take me out to both Oran Park and Amaroo Park to watch cars, bikes, motocross and all manner of racing.

I had some of my life’s greatest experiences at Oran Park. I won a few Formula Ford races there, raced in front of 40 000 people as support to the V8 Supercar bill and even held off Mark Webber for about two laps in a NSW Championship round.

When I began racing Formula Ford in 1994, we had the brand new Wakefield Park at Goulburn (est 1994) and the then recently completed Eastern Creek (est 1991?) to choose from. We were spoilt for choice.  Then Amaroo Park closed in 1998 and now after 48 years of operation Oran is set to do the same.

Like most tracks in Oz , it was a total shit hole from an amenities and infrastructure point of view, but the track itself was fun and technical with a kind of roller coaster effect, due to all the undulations. There were two layouts for racing cars, the “South Circuit” ( 1.96km in length) and the “Grand Prix” track (2.62 km in length), which was the full layout. It  wasn’t an overly fast circuit, but it has some tricky corners that were enjoyable and it had a nice flow. The “kink” at the end of the straight was always a challenge, a driver and a well set up car could make a difference through there, as you had a few choices about which was the quickest way round. The corner existing the bridge was super fun as you could lean on the left rear and powerslide out to the exit. The “dogleg” was also a great corner and really sorted out the men from the boys. You had to convince yourself to keep you foot buried whilst changing direction right then quickly left again over the blind crest into down into the dip. The corner onto the front straight also held your attention as you drifted out wide to see how close you could come to clipping the wall on the exit. It was also quite bumpy, which to me is what a real track should be about. To my knowledge it was the only track in Australia to chris-cross itself and feature a bridge.

Anyway, Monday is the last official day and after that it will close it gates for the last time and make way for 5500 McMansions. Sigh.

Over the past 48 years the track has hosted the Australian Grand Prix (non world championship, 1974 and 1977), Australian Touring Car Championship, V8 Supercars, Truck Racing, Go Karts, Motocross, Drag Racing, Motorcycle Racing, including  the World Superbike Championship in ’88 and ’89 as well as catering to club racers of every description. So it’s a real shame and leaves Eastern Creek the only venue within an hour of the city.

The circuit is selling off the remaining assets, so if you want an old shed, a dunny block, or a commentary tower (Henry?), or even the famous bridge, contact the circuit now.

The outright lap record of 1:01:6718 was set by Tim Leahey in 2000 in a Formula Holden (Reynard 92D)

Click here for list of records

Images: Daryl Flack, John Shingleton, aussieroadracing.homestead.com

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