Wan­neroo

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites -

The last thing the WA Sport­ing Car Club wanted was a ca­pac­ity crowd for the open­ing of the brand new Wan­neroo Park cir­cuit in March 1969. With ev­ery­thing bar the as­phalt it­self be­ing built by a small, hard-work­ing group of vol­un­teers, the fa­cil­i­ties were raw. And the Wan­neroo area, 25km north of Perth, ex­isted un­der a film of lime­stone dust at the best of times.

Wan­neroo, af­ter all, was an out­post back then. It was like a coun­try town, lit­tle more than a two-bowser ser­vice sta­tion with some fruit and veg stalls. The main drag was as­phalt (and void of any speed limit, to the joy of en­thu­si­asts head­ing to the cir­cuit), but the rest of the roads were un­sealed lime­stone.

With all that in mind, rather than push its luck the first time out the WASCC de­cided not to ad­ver­tise the ‘Speed Clas­sic’ – the track’s open­ing race meet­ing – in a bid to keep it largely un­der wraps. The plan failed mis­er­ably. Thou­sands upon thou­sands of en­thu­si­asts tore up the lime­stone roads lead­ing from the tiny town­ship to the cir­cuit. The re­sult­ing dust storms cre­ated a night­mare for the vol­un­teers try­ing not only to fa­cil­i­tate the droves of spec­ta­tors, but run a race meet­ing as well. Ac­cord­ing to club folk­lore, the ticket col­lec­tors got sick of the dust and gave up when two thirds of the es­ti­mated 6000-strong had got through the gates.

It was so bad that by the time the next race meet­ing rolled around, the Wan­neroo coun­cil had tarred the three-kilo­me­tre ac­cess road. It hadn’t been re­quested by the club, it just hap­pened. To this day it is a mys­tery as to how.

The un­ex­pected suc­cess of that first ever race was only a mi­nor set­back. From those dustchoked be­gin­nings the cir­cuit de­vel­oped into a wor­thy suc­ces­sor for the out-dated Caver­sham track. From the Six-Hour ‘Le Mans’ races to the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Championship rounds, Sports Sedan events, the Aus­tralian Grand Prix, right up to V8 Su­per­cars, Barba­gallo Race­way nee Wan­neroo Park has been WA’s home of cir­cuit rac­ing for the best part of five decades and count­ing.

Orig­i­nal Start Line

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