Archive for June, 2019

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Jun
19

Racetracks I have driven Chapter 6 Amaroo Park

Amaroo Park was or is situated at Annangrove 45 min northeast of Sydney as with Oran Park it is now a housing estate! These two circuits were the mainstay of Motorsport in New South Wales and particularly the greater Sydney area for almost 40 years. Amaroo was probably the first Australian racetrack to have an industrial park or estate attached to it, it was built in an area similar to a quarry in that you entered the main gate and passed the offices and went down the steep driveway to the pit area and track

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The Amaroo complex had many different uses as a racetrack, the road course which was 1.2 miles or 1.9 kms long, the original site, which was a Hillclimb, a short circuit dirt track, a flat track dirt speedway, a motocross track then finally in February 1967 the sealed circuit mentioned was opened! A history of the track is available here Amaroo Park History  The bitumen track of 1.9 kms is what I drove during the 1980’s. It was an awesome place that had no runoff areas to speak of, it was unforgiving, scary and incredibly rewarding when driven correctly!

 

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During the 1980’s Amaroo Park was a hub of activity and the club that ran and promoted it was the Australian Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) the same that ran the Bathurst 1000. If you intended competing at the Bathurst 1000 you almost had to run at Amaroo Park to show what you could do! Times were very different to now, where to compete at Bathurst the only way to do that was to secure a drive in the 1000 kms race itself, in recent years there are many more race meetings there and many more categories again racing at the hallowed Mountain! There have been a few occasions in recent years where people have said to me about having the opportunity to compete at Bathurst and how it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, well yes it probably was and for many still is but compared to how it was, these days it is just a matter of committing to go up there! Then you had to prove yourself then get the invitation to co-drive with someone or buy a drive either with a team or in your own car, either way it would be in the 1000 Km endurance race!
For me Amaroo was like Winton, it was tight and twisty with fast sections, technically demanding but it also went up and down hill! My first few laps I clearly remember it being daunting, thrilling and a total sense of excitement, it was my first interstate race meeting!! I had spoken to many friends who had raced there and watched many telecasts from there as well, but it barely prepared me for what I discovered at Amaroo Park.

 

My driving impressions……..
To enter the track, you would enter from near the control tower which was located above pitlane which led directly onto the uphill straight, almost on the bend at the beginning of Bitupave hill! Bitupave Hill was a steep climb with a right hand sweeping curve that was taken flat out this led to the blind LH sweeper at the crest of the hill which was taken in my car almost flat in 4th gear drifting with the inside front wheel off the ground and the rear wheel barely contacting the road surface! The moment you had the car settled it was hard on the brakes and back to 2nd gear for the sharp downhill RH bend, this section was very bad in the late afternoon as the sun would be just at the crest making your approach almost totally blind! The sharp right hander opened out into a downhill righthand sweeper that was almost straight which led into Honda which was a fast slightly downhill sweeper the was taken flat and using all the road including the ripple strip on the exit. Continuing the downhill run until the road almost levelled off where you had a very sharp LH hairpin using all the road it was a matter of just touch the curb on the inside and run right out to the ripple strip on the outside. From here you made you way to the left side of the track to enter one of the few places where you could pass under brakes into the stop / go corner this was a very exciting corner as you would be driving directly into a concrete wall, the track was quite flat on the approach and favorably cambered on the very entrance, mid corner though it went to off camber and tried to send you into the wall!! A short straight followed where, you ran along the wall to the pit entry which was almost where you needed to turn into the next and final corner. The camber on the road was flat with a tall curb on the inside, which you needed to use to straighten the corner as you turned into the main straight! The key to this corner was to exit it, parallel to the Armco barrier separating the track from pit lane, when executed correctly you would almost brush the fence, but as you got closer to it you could feel a cushion of air buffet you away! Back onto the main straight it was keep changing gears and hold it flat to the top of the hill. On a flying lap going through the uphill sweeper it felt like you bottomed out the seat as you were pushed down hard into it!! Amaroo was fast or at least for it’s length, demanding , rewarding and finally unforgiving! Have a look at these videos to get a better idea of the track or relive memories!

John Surtees on 2 wheels at Amaroo Park

1985 Amscar series

1988 Amaroo P1988 Amaroo Park Triple header

 

Amaroo Park had been host to every form of racing from motorcycles and cars of every category that raced domestically in Australia, Historic race meetings were a regular feature attracting such famous people as Sir Stirling Moss and Mike Hailwood both pictured, Sterling in the garage immediately above and Mike Hailwood on his bike further up the page. It was the home of the home of the Castrol 6 hour bike race also the 300 Km touring car race and so much more!

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