Speedway returns to the Fairbairn Park Motorsport Complex this weekend and fingers are crossed it won’t again be a casualty of our wetter-than-usual 2021.
Saturday’s racing will be more important than usual for the National Capital Motorsport Club (NCMC). It forms part of a trial period to see if the Complex can meet the noise restrictions set by the ACT Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
NCMC vice-president Murray Johnson says that gaining all the necessary permissions for evening races has been a lengthy battle.
“We’ve been operating for 25 years and only ever been allowed to compete in the day time, so the noise was never an issue.”
About 10 years ago, they received a grant from the ACT Government to equip the track with electricity and lighting, but then, he says, “nothing happened; it was like it was never going to happen”.
Murray then met an unlikely ally, Greens leader Shane Rattenbury.
“He said, ‘I enjoy what I do, walking and bicycling, and you should be allowed to enjoy what you want to do’. He was very sympathetic to our cause and made it happen.”
Noise testing is conducted at Ridgeway, about 2.5 km from the track, and cannot exceed 65 dB – about the same volume as a conversation. Responsibility for noise-testing is shared between EPA officials and members of the NCMC.
Johnson is confident they’ll pass the noise tests with flying colours, and that evening races will become a fixed part of the Speedway’s future.
Their last event, scheduled for 6 February, was cancelled due to wet weather, but the upcoming races on Saturday, 6 March promise to be their “biggest yet”.
“The pits will be at capacity, and then we have our two spectator areas, so it’s around 1,500 people that we’re allowed there,” Murray says.
COVID-19 restrictions put the kibosh on a lot of motorsport action last year, and even though the cars are coming out of their garages again, meeting the current ACT health measures remains a financial drain for the NCMC.
“We could probably sell about 2,500 tickets to a show like this.”
According to Murray, drivers will be coming from as far as Melbourne and Sydney, in addition to locals such as Doc Bailey, a “long-time tragic of the Speedway”.
Five divisions will be competing this time.
Wingless Sprints and Compact Speedcars are both very popular classes, with the ACT title being run for the latter on the night. Basically, a featherweight chassis is clad in fibre-glass or aluminium panels and then married to a Holden V6 in the case of the Sprint and a motorcycle engine for the Compact Speedcar.
Production Sedans follow, largely consisting of modified Commodores and Falcons.
Finally, it’s the turn of the Juniors, which – as the name implies – involve those as young as 12 roaring around in not only sedans but also Formula 500s. These are the pocket rockets of Australian speedways, looking similar to Sprints but with larger wings to help keep them glued to the clay.
Gates open at 4:30 pm, the first flag is dropped at 6:00 pm and racing concludes at 10:30 pm.
As with the last event, tickets are only available online. General admission spectator tickets will be $25 per person (including children of all ages). The Spectator 1 area comes with grandstand seating, while Spectator 2 is more a BYO-chair-or-picnic-rug arrangement. Food and drinks will be on sale at the site. All spectators will need to sign in with the Check In CBR app upon arrival.
Check out the ACT Speedway Facebook page for more information.