Racetracks I have driven chapter 4 Oran Park

Oran Park was a very popular racetrack situated South of Sydney just off the Hume highway at Narellan! Like so many other tracks Worldwide it has ceased operation and the land sold for housing! Oran Park was one of the premier tracks in Australia, from February 1962 to January 2010, during this time most of Australia’s premier events were hosted there! The Southern end of the track formed an amphitheatre giving excellent viewing for the spectators making the venue very popular! In fact during the late 1960’s and 1970’s some of the biggest domestic crowd attendances on record! From here in Melbourne it appeared if you came from Sydney and raced you either went to Amaroo Park or Oran Park and few people seemed to be as competitive at both tracks, almost like you needed to specialize in one or another! Oran Park Hosted Motorcycle circuit racing, Motocross, Cars of every description, Go Karts, trucks, corporate days, driver training and everything on wheels! it was busy and flourished for most of its time.

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My experience at Oran park was very limited and I only managed one day there and only the South Circuit unfortunately! It was to be my first race meeting there but as happens at times it was not to be! The trip from Melbourne was good after doing a slow familiarization set of laps and trying to work out where the track went I discovered the adjusting bolt for the brake bias valve had loosened and dropped out of the valve! After a long time looking for it with the help of the office staff we went to a machine shop to have a replacement made for it. Finally after fitting the replacement and making basic adjustments it was time to resume the learning process. Three sessions into the day and the engine ran a bearing, we had travelled 12 hours overnight and then had nothing but trouble, the important thing was I had driven the South Circuit and in a short time was close to competitive!

Above you can see the entry to the Circuit as it was the dirt road leading up the hill to the entry gate and the control tower and offices in the hacienda style building! The remaining pics show the swooping corners and undulating nature of the track! The last is that slightly off camber right hander on to the main straight! This was a great corner and to be fast you needed to run close to the wall on the exit, as seen by the tyre marks all over it! There were similarities with the corner onto the main straight at Amaroo Park except Oran’s corner was faster, which, sadly, both are  Housing Estates these days!

As described earlier I only did a few laps on a single day at Oran Park and due to one thing or another I never got back there unfortunately! I had just started to settle into the flow of the track then we ran a bearing!

The start line or grid there was downhill which made the start tricky it also helped build speed and made the braking interesting at times as well! The South Circuit used the shortened main straight and was considerably shorter than the long tracks straight as can be seen in the diagrams above. The turn off the main straight was a left hand u turn where it re-joined the full circuit, followed closely by a 90 degree right hand and a flowing left, then left again these corners were opening out each time and the road surface undulating giving the impression of a roller coaster type ride. This section was almost blind on the approach and required a lot of faith in the flag marshals to give an indication of what may lay ahead! Next was the esses which was difficult to see the entry as you came out of the dip and started the climb back to the main straight! This climb back to the straight was tight but flowing and allowed for you to build speed along the way and was faster than it initially looked! That uphill off camber corner onto the straight also lead to the pit entry road. To say it was off camber is probably not entirely correct as it was mainly the corner exit that flattened off after the corner entry and much of it was nicely cambered, this helped you go closer to the wall! That corner was critical for a good lap, as was the back of the track through the undulations and the tighter sections of the track!

It was very technical and demanding, requiring a lot of commitment and confidence in your approach to it! I managed to do a 48.6 sec lap there still finding my way and from memory, the times to do at the time were high 46 seconds so I was happy with that given the short time I had there. One thing that really did surprise me about Oran Park was just how blind it was and how good it was, it was such a shame I didn’t return to discover the real potential the Escort still had to be unlocked there! While the trip there and back from Melbourne was long and the track time short it was a really good weekend if not disappointing


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January 2018


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