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APRIL 28, 2008

Interesting moves in Sydney

The Australian Racing Drivers' Club (ARDC) has asked Apex Circuit Design, a British company, to evaluate the Eastern Creek racing facility, in the western suburbs of Sydney, and advise on how easy it will be to upgrade the facility to Formula 1 standard. The aim of the study is to try to convince the state government of New South Wales to fund a Grand Prix.

The ARDC, which has been promoting racing in Australia since 1952, is headquartered at the circuit but has a history of running races in the region, notably at Bathurst where it was the original promoter of the Bathurst 1000.

Eastern Creek is built on a 225-acre site. The circuit is 2.4 miles in length but is generally considered rather bland. The reports in Australia suggest that the plan might be to build another circuit on surrounding land so that there would be more of a challenge and better facilities, which would include a conference centre for exhibitions and entertainment events and a larger driver education facility. The ARDC has a long-term lease but the land belongs to the state government and this may make expansion easier. The current facility is already operating near capacity and with the closure of Oran Park, Eastern Creek in the city's only racing location

The ARDC holds a long-term lease on Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney's west from landowner the NSW State Government, which has expressed interest recently in luring the GP from Melbourne.

ARDC president John Cotter says that the study is "an essential first step in plans to ensure Australia remained relevant in world motorsport" because "strong competition from emerging nations to secure major motorsport events threaten to marginalise Australia, with a resulting loss in status and tourism potential. The ARDC believes a permanent motorsport complex would be a far more cost-effective proposition, and be far more useful.

The track is located alongside the Great Western Highway, adjacent to its junction with the WestLink, part of the city's orbital road that links to the other major roads that feed the city.

It is also close to the Prospect Reservoir and it is possible that any development might open up the gap between the track and the reservoir to make it more attractive.