Specs & Details
Sydney Motorsports Park
Location: Eastern Creek, NSW, Australia
Track Configuration: 3.93 km, 11-turn Grand Prix circuit
Elevation Change: 106 feet
Longest Straight: 4,400 feet
Other Facilities: Three-story control tower, 50 pit lane garages, medic center, grandstands, media and corporate/VIP suites, The Garage café and hospitality clubhouse, helipad, playground, kart track
Ever heard of a racetrack owned by the government and operated by a racing driver's club? Neither had we, until we started to look into Sydney Motorsports Park, home to the World Time Attack Challenge (and presumably a few koala bears). Sure, they like to do things differently in Australia, like barbecuing seafood, wrestling crocodiles, and surfing with great white sharks, but using tax dollars to fund a racetrack is both appalling and the greatest thing we've ever heard. Ever.
Formerly known as Eastern Creek International Raceway, the almost 4km-long Grand Prix circuit used during the WTAC was built in 1990 to FIA Category Two standards, which is to say it was suitable for pro-level racing but wasn't quite up to F1 standards. Located just 40 km from downtown Sydney, it is the only permanent circuit in the region and has played host to all sorts of high-end machinery, from A1GP (one rung down from F1) to the always entertaining Aussie V8 Supercar Championship.
The Creek, as it was affectionately known by local petrolheads (and probably still is), has also hosted a number of non-racing events, including a Guns N' Roses concert that attracted almost 100,000 spectators back in 1993. And as the epicenter of Sydney's motor-sports scene, the massively long front straight also pulls double duty as a dragstrip for those Aussies who prefer to get their go-fast fix in a straight line.
It wasn't until 2008 that the transformation into what is now known as Sydney Motorsports Park began, with $7 million in renovation funds supplied by the New South Wales government and another $2 million kicked in by the Australian Racing Driver's Club. Upgrades included reconfiguring the track so that four different layouts exist, including the classic Grand Prix circuit as well as the longer Brabham circuit (4.5 km) and shorter GP North (2.8 km) and GP South (1.8 km) circuits. New pit lane facilities were also added to support the multiple track configurations, plus a new control tower and amenity buildings were built, bringing the entire facility up to a very high standard.
Our intrepid editor-in-chief got a close-up look at the Grand Prix circuit a few years ago during the first World Time Attack Challenge. According to PT, "I never drove it, but the track's elevation changes are spectacular—and there are many of them. The front straight is so long that it plays a big role when setting a fast lap time. I love how you can see almost all the track from atop the pit garages, which makes it a great place for spectators. I'd also say it's a fairly high-speed circuit, so aero plays a big role here."
If you're a fan of WTAC like we are, then you've probably watched some in-car videos from top teams like Under Suzuki's awesome S15 and peeped the telemetry showing front straightaway speed approaching 300 km/h and apex speed above 200 km/h (or 125 mph) in the incredibly fast left-hand Turn 1. That not only takes huge commitment (and a healthy set of cojones), but also a really well-sorted chassis and some serious downforce. The rest of the circuit isn't quite as fast, but it has great flow over the naturally undulated topography of the GP circuit, challenging the driver as well as the car's handling balance.
The '13 WTAC event is just heating up as we write this, so by the time you read it, there should be some sexy new in-car videos on YouTube, hopefully of one of the top teams smashing the lap record set by the nutty Nemo Evolution IX last year. Go Under Suzuki!