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Port Wakefield, Australia GP Circuit (warning, photos!)


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#1 zac510

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 08:32

The 50th anniversary of the 1955 Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield is approaching. Sir Jack Brabham won this race.

Today we went out to find the track, so I took out my camera to take some photos.

There is a bit of myth that the track was demolished or no longer exists. This is partially true - we discovered that the block of land that the track existed on has been divided and one owner had demolished the track on his section of land. Fortunately on the other block, the track remained, only beaten by weather, rabbits and rugged vegetation. The photos will tell the story.

I've added to a map of the track the location of the photos. All of them except the last are following and looking in the direction of the track, clockwise.

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1. Our host for the day was John Kipling, son of Possum.

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2. This is the right hand corner after Repco Straight.

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3. Turn 4 is another medium speed sweeper, left hander this time.

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4. This photo is the apex of Turn 4. An old tyre is still embedded in the concrete edging.

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5. Short section of straight before Tyresoles hairpin.

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6. This section of track is intriguing - the concrete track edging on the left juts out towards the centre of the track in a triangular shape.

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7. The asphalt at tyresoles has survived better than any other section of track. The corner tightens a lot.

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8. It is hard to see just how tight Tyresoles is. It is a very tight hairpin!

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9. This is from the inside of Tyresoles

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10. This photo is following the track down to Kallin

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11. Along this section of straight is the motorbike start/finish line. The cars started on Repco Straight. This appears to be a yellow painted grid mark from the area of the motorbike start/finish line.

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12. Just across from the grid line is a couple of painted numbers. This is the only one we could make out - it might read '24' ?

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13. Down to Kallin, a long sweeping right hander.

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14. This is still Kallin sweeping right and should give you some impression of how long and fast it would have been.

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15. Looking west down Thompson Motors Straight. The car pits would have been on the left of the photo.

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16. This photo looks back down Repco Straight through the fence line where the start finish line, turn 1 and turn 2 would have been.


I hope you have enjoyed this short tour of the Port Wakefield track. The history of this track has been mostly forgotten as people have believed it to have been demolished and lost. The track does still exist. There will be a story about this track in a local daily newspaper over the March Aus GP weekend.

Perhaps some other members could tell us some stories about the track or it's entrants :)

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#2 eldougo

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 08:54

:)
Nice pics there..zac510. It looks like stages of the Fink rally. :up: October the 10th is the anniversary date.

#3 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 08:54

What is the nearest town or city to PW?

#4 Bernd

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 08:57

Erm.... Port Wakefield! Nearest large city is Adelaide.

I'm glad I skipped visiting it's so depressing to see these pictures. Even though it was not much of a circuit.

#5 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 10:31

Originally posted by Bernd
Erm.... Port Wakefield! Nearest large city is Adelaide.

The land in OZ is awesome and the people who thought to build a circuit in such desolation have to be admired.

#6 275 GTB-4

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 12:23

Many thanks zac510...just fascinating....did the place have any permanent buildings???

#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 12:27

Originally posted by Bernd
.....I'm glad I skipped visiting it's so depressing to see these pictures. Even though it was not much of a circuit.


It was intended to be extended to about double the length it was originally. It just never got done, the problem of keeping up what they had prevented them making that kind of progress...

However, had it been extended, Mallala would never have existed.

Amazing, isn't it? South Australia spawned the best by far... and some of the worst... I've forgotten the reason they built way out there.

#8 Gary Davies

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 12:58

Originally posted by zac510 Our host for the day was John Kipling, son of Possum.


Thank you very much, zac510, most interesting. Tell me, your caption (above) implies that you had a contact that enabled your visit ... is that the case? I live not too far away (in the Adelaide Hills) and would love to tramp the same ground sometime if access were not a problem.

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 13:04

Do you need it?

When I went there and walked the circuit, I just jumped the fence and started walking. But I guess the Kiplings still own the service station nearby.

#10 clintonf3

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 13:04

:up: :up: :up: :up:
Thanks for the great pics and history lesson!

Regards,

Clinton

#11 Bernd

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 22:04

Speaking of Mallala these pictures strongly remind me of the derelict extension to that track.

#12 Mac Lark

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 22:13

Originally posted by Ray Bell




Amazing, isn't it? South Australia spawned the best by far... and some of the worst... I've forgotten the reason they built way out there.


Would you be kind enough to expand on that comment Ray.

Also, does Mallala still exist?

And what about A.I.R.?

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 22:35

Well, it's pretty clear that Port Wakefield, as it was semi-completed and used for six or seven years, was pretty bad. Mallala at times has been fairly weak as well, AIR is very much a compromise with its included oval and drag stip.

On the other hand, Lobethal was the greatest circuit Australia has ever seen...

Bernd... yes, they are very much alike. Just none of those timber coverings for drains evident at Port Wakefield.

#14 Gary Davies

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 22:58

Originally posted by Mac Lark


Would you be kind enough to expand on that comment Ray.

Also, does Mallala still exist?

And what about A.I.R.?


http://www.mallala.com/
http://www.adelaider...y.net/open.html

#15 Mac Lark

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 01:59

Cheers VW

#16 zac510

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 08:40

Thanks TNFers, sorry my post last night was a bit vague on details. I was pretty tired after a day trekking in 30+ heat. It took us about 30-40 minutes of trekking around the block of land that had been cleared, to discover that there are still remains of the track on the adjacent block!

Vanwall, not exactly, the remains of the track are about 500m from the popular truck stops so anybody can go and see it in the way we or Ray Bell did. I might be able to provide you with a map.
The townspeople are well aware of the history of the F1 race and the town being home to Redex Rally winner Possum Kipling, but the knowledge of the actual track seems to have been forgotten. Perhaps after racing stopped, the land was split and 1/3 of the track demolished, people lost hope. John himself didn't even know the track existed to that extent and he has lived there for 50 years!

We still don't know who built the track or who owns the property now. I guess we were trespassing but the land and fencing is in pretty poor condition, I don't think the owner would really care! It was quite exciting to find it. It should be remembered for more than it is now.

275-GTB4, in the first photo looking straight ahead towards the horizon is exactly where the track is. Back in the day there were scaffolding stands and tents.

Ray, the Kiplings sold the roadhouse many years ago but now run a successful bakery. His son Brett campaigns an Evo 5 in Group A rally now, if you follow that.
I have heard the racing was moved to Pt Wakefield because another track (in the hills, Nuriootpa? post war) was too dangerous?

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 10:08

Well, that's part of the story...

The Government decided that racing on public roads had to come to a halt. There had been fatal accidents at Lobethal, and non-fatal ones too, involving both drivers and spectators. IIRC, Woodside was the last meeting on public roads.

Then the poor natives were restricted to racing at Gawler, on the airstrip. I'm not sure, but I think Sellick's Beach was finished by then. So in that atmosphere, you have to see that Port Wakefield was actually an advancement.

The biggest problems were distance from Adelaide, which really wasn't that bad, the flatness of the land and the fact that they never got it built to the length they planned.

When I did the story about Port Wakefield a few years ago, I actually got a lot of information from Possum Kipling.

#18 Gary Davies

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 10:31

Originally posted by zac510
Vanwall, not exactly, the remains of the track are about 500m from the popular truck stops so anybody can go and see it in the way we or Ray Bell did. I might be able to provide you with a map.


Triffic! Thanks. The next problem's going to be finding the time, but by jingo I'll get there! Port Wakefield is kind of an Autumn place to be - this weird summer excepted.

And a mudmap would be hugely appreciated.

:wave:

#19 zac510

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 10:32

Thanks Ray, good information.

Where was your article published? We have searched News Ltd text and photo archives.

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 11:28

I guess it was about 1999... the story was one of the Closed Circuit series in Motor Racing Australia. Contact Chevron Publications in Sydney and see if they can dig up a copy for you.

#21 zac510

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 06:19

Did any locals read the story in the Saturday newspaper?

#22 Alan Johnston

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 01:02

Yes I saw the article on the Pt Wakefield circuit, it was a good addendum to your photo's Zac510.

I must admit that until late last year when I "found" this forum I did not know a thing about the motor racing history of Australia let alone South Australia, even though I have lived here for twenty years. Even found the 50-race history of the Australian Grand Prix in the local library!!

Thank you to everyone! :clap:


Alan

#23 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 11:00

You might look here...

http://forums.atlasf...=&threadid=1097

...or here...

http://forums.atlasf...&threadid=14846

#24 Pikachu Racing

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 20:53

Totally awesome! Thank you for the pics!

#25 Alan Johnston

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 04:45

Article in The Advertiser Saturday 20th August by Stuart Innes.


Quote "On November 12th the town of Port Wakefield is planning a 50th anniversary celebration at which Sir Jack Brabham, now in his 80th year, will be guest of honour". Apparently it's going to be a gathering of old cars, a fete and a day of music.

What about some racing!!

#26 Terry Walker

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 05:13

Here it is:

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I had a look around one day on a drive from Canberra to Perth, but couldn't see anything. It was about 130 degrees in the waterbag, dust blowing, and I was tired so obviously I didn't look hard enough.

The pictures have all turned to little red "x" signs, no links? :(