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Surfers Paradise Raceway


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#1 Flying Panda

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Posted 02 December 2002 - 04:33

..... is no more :(

about three years ago it was decided that the old Raceway (which included a Grand Prix circuit, a Speedway and an Airfiled) whould be turned into a residential estate.

I had gone to the raceway during schoolies week on my way back from Gardner Engineering, where I had picked up spacers for the F500's rear axle, and was mightiliy pissed off to see that what Crash had told me was true. I ignored the keep out signs and all that bullshit, and went inside to the site office.

Surprisingly enough, the project manager was more than happy to see me and answer all my questions, he even told me stories about how he'd come down to the track as a teenager and watch the cars, he named all the great drivers he saw in action there, I could just about swear that he was Ray Bell. He was a real motorsports enthusiest, and although he was expecting it, I never asked why they felt they needed to destroy the track, or how he felt about it personally. Talk about self control.

after twelve months, they has not been any construction, just destruction and land preperation.

so instead of taking hundereds of photos of the circuit for Bernd, i got about 4.

Break and Enter
The entry gate - the only structure left standing
The last remaining piece of tarmac, on the old main stright which doubled as a drag strip.
The site office - you can still see some of the old raceway stuff in the pic, Dunlop signs, etc.

(sorry about my ugly face being in all of them, my friend took the photos and insisted that I model for him...)

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#2 Barry Lake

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Posted 02 December 2002 - 04:45

I went past there on my way to Brisbane Airport after the CART race on the Gold Coast recently.

Couldn't believe my eyes when I saw how completely they had changed the landscape. Had the entry gate not been there I think I might have believed I'd picked the wrong spot.

#3 Flying Panda

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Posted 02 December 2002 - 05:11

Indeed,
I checked the road map twice when I arrived just to make sure it I was at the right place.

#4 Bernd

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Posted 02 December 2002 - 05:40

At least you changed your shirt for once Dan.

Damnit I left my trip too long, I was always kinda assured that the developers would leave it alone as the area is swampy and prone to inundation but obviously they've spent some serious dollars and shored it all up.

This is absolutely tragic.

#5 racer69

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Posted 02 December 2002 - 09:56

The biggest shame is that it sat untouched for so long :(

#6 howl

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Posted 03 December 2002 - 01:11

I'm quite surprised to learn that Surfers Paradise Raceway has laid about for all these years. I know the Australian Touring Car Championship made their last visit to the track in 1987. When CART first visited Surfers Paradise around 1990, it was at the current street track. At that time the race track was either about to be, or already shut down - but now I begin to wonder when exactly was the last race meeting held at Surfers Paradise Raceway?

Of what I've seen from footage the place looked quite avesome, especially with those three fast right-hand corners at the beginning of the circuit. Just a shame the Champ Cars never got to visit the track.

Jesper O.H.

#7 Flying Panda

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Posted 03 December 2002 - 03:19

Originally posted by howl
but now I begin to wonder when exactly was the last race meeting held at Surfers Paradise Raceway?

It wasnt that very long ago.
Notice in the photo of the gate, the left pylon has 'Tower of Terror' written on it. The Tower of Terror is a ride at 'Dreamworld', a theme park on the Gold Coast, and the ride began operation in 1997.

However, I'm sure the final events held there would have been the Operation D.R.A.G. events, and soe local Speedway events. I will see what I can do to find date of the most recent meetings there.

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 December 2002 - 03:35

1987 was about it...

The final lap record was set by the Veskanda driven by John Bowe... I feel sure that was one of the final meetings.

Operation D.R.A.G continued there into the early nineties, maybe even the late nineties.

#9 racer69

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Posted 03 December 2002 - 11:00

I'm pretty sure the last racing event was in late 1987, a state meeting. It was originally meant to be an endurance race for the Touring Cars, but i think due to lack of entries and no TV (due to no Australian Endurance Championship that year) the event was cancelled and changed to a state meeting, i've got the RCN covering that meeting somewhere.

The last event at the place was probably the drags.

#10 Barry Lake

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 01:45

Last time I drove there was May 1995, doing some hot (?!) laps in new Hyundai Lantras. It looked the same to me then as it always had, including unprotected open drains waiting to drown the unwary.

#11 Beejay17

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 06:33

Originally posted by racer69
I'm pretty sure the last racing event was in late 1987, a state meeting. It was originally meant to be an endurance race for the Touring Cars, but i think due to lack of entries and no TV (due to no Australian Endurance Championship that year) the event was cancelled and changed to a state meeting


I went to that meeting thinking this will be a moment to remember, coincidentally being there on holidays from NSW, I could say I went to the last race meeting there. I was very disappointed, but got some nice pics of Marc Duquet's (?) Lotus Cortina and Greg Toepfer's EH and a few other Group A and Group E sedans.

#12 racer69

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 11:17

Out of curiosity, what made the meeting a disappointment?

#13 Barry Lake

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 15:01

If you confirm that was the last meeting there, can you please provide an exact date?

Do you know when the last Open Meeting was held there?

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 20:27

Is that not recorded in the Closed Circuit article, Barry?

Might not be... I don't have RCNs for 1987.

#15 Beejay17

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 21:57

Originally posted by racer69
Out of curiosity, what made the meeting a disappointment?


I was expecting a 300km Group A race and had planned in advance to slot it into my holiday on the way back from Heron Island/Noosa.

#16 normbeechey

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 06:54

I remember the last major touring car race at Surfers because the announcement of its closure was made just before the event.

It was the ATCC round that year was set down for 24/5/87, but it was postponed for a week because of floods (again!), I am glad I live in Victoria. The race was won by Jim Richards.

The only other meeting scheduled for Surfers after that was an open meeting 16/8/87. Source, Chequered Flag magazine calendar. It was listed as just an open meeting and certainly would never have been scheduled as an enduro touring car meeting because there was no enduro series that year. There was a round of the WTCC at Calder though.

The story at the time was that executive Japanese golfers on a nearby golf course were so annoyed by the sound coming from the circuit that they bought the circuit on the basis that it was shut down pronto. So I would be surprised if the 16/8/87 meeting actually went ahead, but I may be wrong.

Chris Meaden
www.drive.to/beechey

#17 racer69

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 11:19

Originally posted by normbeechey
The only other meeting scheduled for Surfers after that was an open meeting 16/8/87. Source, Chequered Flag magazine calendar. It was listed as just an open meeting and certainly would never have been scheduled as an enduro touring car meeting because there was no enduro series that year. There was a round of the WTCC at Calder though.


There were a couple of enduro's in 1987, there wasn't an endurance championship, but a couple of individual enduros. There was:

Hardie Irrigation 100 (Amaroo Park)
Calder 100 (70 laps of the combined road course/oval, used again a few weeks later for the WTCC event)
Pepsi 250 (Oran Park)
Castrol 500 (Sandown)

On the telecast of the Amaroo 100 they talk about the upcoming enduro's and mention the Surfers 300 as being a non-televised event. Maybe that is why it was turned into a state meeting, as there was no TV none of the major teams entered.

#18 William Dale Jr

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 11:29

I don't think that there was a Driver's Endurance Championship, but I've got a listing of a Manufacturer's Endurance champion - well, two winning manufacturers, actually - for 1987 (Nissan and BMW).

If this is right, the series probably included the 100k race at Amaroo, the 250k race at Oran Park, the Sun 300 on the Calder combined road-course/Thunderdome circuit, the Castrol 500, Bathurst, Calder 500k race and finally the traditional Surfers 300 - which was cancelled.

I think I've got a report of what would turn out to be the final Surfers race meeting in an Auto Action. I'll have a look for it...

#19 Barry Lake

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 12:04

Thanks Chris.

Saves a lot of reading through old magazines.

:wave:

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 14:07

The Surfers enduro was always later in the year... and if they were spruiking about it at Amaroo, it just had to be after that race.

I'd be more inclined to accept a date in late October or November.

#21 Beejay17

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 22:03

I checked back through my photos, the meeting I attended was in August. My recollection was that it was downgraded for some reason.

#22 normbeechey

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 23:45

I have scanned both the Auto Action and Chequered Flag Calenders for 1987 and placed them on the very bottom of the “For Sale” page on my website www.drive.to/beechey

You can decide for yourselves as to if there was ever an enduro race scheduled for Surfers.


Chris Meaden

#23 William Dale Jr

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 08:47

These are the opening paragraphs of the report that I was talking about:


CLUB DAY REPLACES 300 - Australian AUTO ACTION, AUGUST 28, 1987

"QUEENSLAND TOURING CAR fans came out in force at the ATCC rounds at Surfers and Lakeside earlier this year, to witness some of the most competitive racing for some years, but unfortunately, most of the major teams found it too much of an effort to make the trek north to Surfers Paradise for the BP 300.

"Even if the teams had entered their number two or three carss with the co-drivers for the long distance races, taking up to 300km challenge for a bit of practice, a reasonably good crowd would have been pulled, which would have been better than none at all for the promoter...

"With the cancellation of the BP 300 due to lack of entries promoter David Harding could have canned the entire meeting, but he proceeded with the meeting at the great risk of running at a loss."

- by John Bowden


Now, it doesn't say when the race was cancelled, but I still wonder why it doesn't show up on the two calendars Chris posted?

#24 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 11:29

It doesn't actually give the date either...

Late August was a busy time... the final Amaroo, Sandown at the beginning of September etc...

#25 racer69

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 05:41

Originally posted by Ray Bell
The Surfers enduro was always later in the year... and if they were spruiking about it at Amaroo, it just had to be after that race.

I'd be more inclined to accept a date in late October or November.


The Surfers enduro was always later in the year, until 1986 when the Surfers enduro swapped dates for some reason with the Oran Park Pepsi 250 for some reason (could it have had something to do with Surfers trying to get a World Sportscar round?) I suppose Surfers kept a similiar date for the enduro for 1987, though Oran Park changed back to it's pre-bathurst status, as the 1986 race didn't draw a big enough crowd.

#26 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 13:05

Thanks for that clarification...

I went past the demolition site that once was the circuit today... there are excavations everywhere, it looks like they're turning the place into a canal estate.

The Lukey hill, which was the only natural relief from the flat landscape, and was a sizable hill, has been removed too. Nothing remains, I think it's safe to say...

A far cry from the day I called in there with Kevin Bartlett and was introduced to his sister, Kay, who was working there as the finishing touches were put on the circuit. That was June, 1965 IIRC, and though there might have been a small meeting run prior to that date, I don't think so.

#27 lynmeredith

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 23:39

Originally posted by Ray Bell
A far cry from the day I called in there with Kevin Bartlett and was introduced to his sister, Kay,


Don't just leave us there, Ray, what happened??

LDM

#28 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 23:52

Oh, that was just the first time I ever saw the circuit.

A matter of all the hopes that were being realised with the circuit's introduction. Now all that is gone, and Lakeside seeming is permanently gone too. Willowbank is no replacement for either...

The call was during the course of our trip to Lakeside for the Gold Star race. Though for the life of me I can't remember how we got there... maybe it was on the way back?

We went up the New England Highway so it must have been on the way back...

Sorry, nothing more to report.

#29 Beejay17

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 22:52

Thanks William

Nice to know some of my recollections are correct :wave:

Have we verified if it was the last race meeting? Did it linger on at all after that?

#30 William Dale Jr

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Posted 09 December 2002 - 03:22

I think that was the last meeting (even if no-one knew it at the time...) but I'm not completely sure about that.

Incidentally, a programme from a meeting at Surfers in 1966 has popped up on eBay. $35.00, if anyone was interested. There's also one there for the same price but from Lakeside in 1967.

#31 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 10:44

Motoring News has a report of the first National Open Race Meeting held at Surfers' Paradise.

That was on May 22, 1966.

Frank Matich set the lap record at 1m 15.9s in the Traco-Oldsmobile.

The main race of the day was the Queensland Series Production Touring Car Championship won by Kevin Bartlett in the Alfa Romeo GTA from the Mini-Coopers of Bob Holden, Brian Folet and Don Holland.

John McDonald won a race in the ex-McLaren Tasman Cooper.

The reporter bemoaned the fact that only 7000 people turned up to watch the racing.

#32 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 12:39

Did it also mention David Seldon and his Volvo?

I'm sure I've posted about this first meeting somewhere else, but if you like you can go to Bernd's website (the Tasman website) and have a look at the history of the circuit.

Brian might prefer a 'y' instead of a 't'...