17 September 2021

Is Canberra ready to have a crack at hosting the V8 Supercars again?

| Tim Gavel
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Canberra GMC 400 bollards

The Canberra GMC 400 bollards remain a common site around the capital region. Photo: Epic Sports Photography.

Speculation around a potential return to Canberra of the Supercars, operating in a circuit around Exhibition Park, has raised the hopes of many a motorsport fan in this region.

It’s triggered memories from 19 years ago: some of the circuit lines are visible, along with bollards used for the race. These are often still used as barriers for road works on the Kings Highway.

The city hosted the V8 Supercars from 2000 to 2003 and it divided the city like no other cultural or sporting event in recent times as talkback lines ran hot. Perhaps only Skywhale was equally debated.

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But there was also widespread support for an event that breathed life into the city and stimulated the economy over the traditionally quiet Queen’s Birthday weekend in June.

Apart from the disruption to regular commuters, which well and truly occupied the traffic reports, there was also the timing of the event. Who would come to Canberra in the middle of winter to stand in the cold for the weekend?

The attraction of hosting the event in Canberra included the visual splendour of the setting: Lake Burley Griffin, the national institutions and Parliament House. It came up spectacularly on television.

In the end the cost born by ACT Government to underwrite the event was too high and the Supercar caravan moved on after only three years.

Bend - Canberra GMC 400

Fans in Canberra were on top of the action. Photo: Epic Sports Photography.

Soon after, and to my surprise, I received a talkback call from a member of a syndicate proposing the event be moved to Tuggeranong.

This proposal didn’t get up. Aside from cost, I would assume there were a couple of reasons for this, including the fact that a major part of the attraction of bringing the race to Canberra was the sight of racing around the Parliamentary Triangle with the House on the hill in the background.

It was an iconic image and one hard to replicate anywhere else.

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This brings me to the present day and speculation surrounding a potential V8 Supercar event at Exhibition Park involving a 3.2-kilometre circuit running through internal roads in the park, as well as Morisset and Flemington roads.

The proposal has the event running in the warmer months of November or December and would be carbon-neutral and environmentally sustainable.

Sources close to the bid have told Region Media that the proposal will use only current infrastructure and has been designed to minimise access and noise issues for the neighbours in Watson and Downer, ending racing at 5pm each day. There will also be no impact on people working in Mitchell.

While some public speculation about the track is not accurate, the new course has been designed to incorporate the light rail – including cars racing alongside the tramlines.

The intent is to create one of the top three motorsports events in Australia, attracting up to 80 per cent interstate attendance. There are events planned for Braddon and Civic, including driver signings along the light rail lines.

On the plus side, there would be minimal disruption to regular traffic, and there is existing infrastructure at the Park catering for Summernats. It would also bring millions of tourism dollars to the city and organisers say that they have done their homework, creating an attractive business model.

Motorsport has been long neglected in Canberra, but it will be fascinating to see if this latest proposal has any legs.

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I used to enjoy motor racing.

? I know who Spencer Martin was and I even watched – and heard him – fanging the Ferrari 250/275LM at Longford in Tazzie.

It was like listening to a 3.3 litre multi-cylinder Japanese racing motor-bike engine.

I miss it, but can sensibly accept that hydro-carbon-fuel motoring is on the way out. Including the racing!

Although we own a petrol AWD SUV (a 2015 model year Forester) I no longer see much point in motor racing that doesn’t use EV technology. Bushland tends to lack petrol stations

Given that there isn’t much of the old style auto-racing, nor the new EV type about, it is all a bit sad.

I’ll miss the noise and the smell!

In that case you may be interested in this obit of Leo Geoghegan –


(including the story of Jim Clark mowing the Geoghegan brothers’ mother’s lawn)

John Gregory Free3:07 pm 22 Sep 21

I have been involved in Motorsport for three generations and wholeheartedly support a race of this significance in Canberra in conjunction with the long standing SummerNats
What an amazing week that could be!
All motorsports fans would be attracted to visit or at least watch the spectacle on TV.
Provisos: passing opportunities must be part of the circuit.
Support races of real interest such as the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ
The relevant Motorsport associations should propose such an event to the current ACT Polly’s.
I am certain that the support for such an event will be strong.
Happy days
John Free

Fine by me to have as much motor sport as can be run so as to be financially self-sustaining, and no more than marginally disruptive socially, environmentally, etc

I’m all for motor sport events too – but V8 races in Canberra will never stack up without enormous subsidies from the Government – if we had a purpose built track it would be a different story.

It was a disaster last time and it would be another disaster this time, especially given V8 Supercars is not what it once was.

More likely to be a street drag race between a Hyundai Kona Electric and a Nissan Leaf!

Capital Retro6:25 pm 20 Sep 21

with an e-scooter as the safety vehicle

Capital Retro10:22 am 20 Sep 21

If the rainbow roundabout in Braddon could be incorporated into the race circuit the proposal would be immediately approved by the current government.

You really are obsessed and bizarrely offended by a colourful roundabout….. very strange.

Not surprising, just strange,…..

It was an utter disaster last time that cost the taxpayer plenty for very little benefit https://www.audit.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/1205721/Report-No-5-2002-V8-Car-Races-in-Canberra-Costs-and-Benefits.pdf

The proposed track is as boring as they come, V8 Supercars is well past its ‘prime’ in terms of a racing category – no thanks.

A few things were against the “GMC 400” The cold weather, the pain in the butt it made peoples commute to work, the ticket prices and of course the major sponsor going bust.

The new proposal seems to address a lot of those negatives however the Supercars series has a lot less interest than it had 2 decades ago.

Vonnie McDonald6:52 pm 19 Sep 21

As a V8 supercars fan, I would welcome the opportunity to see the cars back in the capital. Crossing fingers that this goes further.

This would be a great boost to the Canberra community as a whole. Particulary to all the bussiness that have suffered as a result of COVID 19. Canberra needs a sporting spectacle, great for the whole family, can’t wait, bring it on.

The evidence suggests otherwise from across the world for events like this where governments ultimately have to chuck in a wad of taxpayer $ for it to stack up.

Go and read the audit report from last time. In short – costs are almost always vastly understated, benefits vastly over stated.

Ha, this part of the proposal has more spin than a burnout, “and would be carbon-neutral and environmentally sustainable”.

Despite the assumption that Barr & Rattenbury would hate the idea, I and many other Canberrans would support it and attend.

From 8 yrs old I was a ‘Junior’ Legatee along with my other siblings and the Legatee – Mr Eric Ross – who was allocated to us and Mum was a member of CAMS.

So, we got to go toa few races, in my case to Longford in Tazzie and got to see – and hear – Spencer Martin running the Ferrari 250LM running fast in 5th gear.

Mr. Ross was also an ex member of the ‘QLD Light-Horse’!

* So he taught me how to ide a horse with one hand, my left, with the reins crossed through my fingers!!

Before I went off to a Spring ‘School Holiday’s’ at a Pony Club Camp in Narrabri. They even asked me back, so two kids from N’cle Legacy went up the next year.

I even learned Dressage and jumping real fences and show-jumps!

The Pony Clubs of Australia taught me to ride, though with two hands, but I’ve never lost the one-handed skill.

Turn parts of Canberra into a larger version of the AMC again? No thanks.

Barr and Rattenbury absolutely hate ICE vehicles, so I can’t see this getting the light of day

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