Catalina Park

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites -

When per­ma­nent race cir­cuits close down it’s usu­ally not long be­fore all trace of their mo­tor­sport past dis­ap­pears from the site. Oran Park and Ama­roo Park are good ex­am­ples of mus­cle car-era bat­tle­fields that pro­vide few clues to­day to their pre­vi­ous use.

The ex­cep­tion to the rule is Catalina Park, in the up­per Blue Moun­tains, west of Syd­ney. Here a dis­used cir­cuit can be found that’s re­mark­ably well pre­served. And just a touch spooky.

A wan­der around Catalina pro­vides an in­sight into mostly state-level rac­ing six­ties style with its twist­ing and tree-lined lay­out, lack of run-off and few spec­ta­tor com­forts.

Find­ing a suit­able van­tage point mostly meant travers­ing coun­try­side that was peren­ni­ally wet un­der­foot. If you dragged your girl to Catalina Park she needed to be pretty hardy, other­wise the re­la­tion­ship was doomed. Es­pe­cially as the moun­tain lo­ca­tion meant fog de­lays were a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence.

Catalina Park never hosted na­tional cham­pi­onship events, but big names such as Beechey, Jane, Matich and the Geoghe­gans – along with many of their most fa­mous cars of the 1960s – were star at­trac­tions.

That’s now all con­signed to his­tory. As are cor­ners names like Craven A, Dun­lop, Nep­tune, Bosch and the evoca­tively ti­tled Tun­nel of Love. And as we learn over the fol­low­ing pages, this is a ‘sa­cred site’ in more ways than one.

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