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.