Calder Park Raceway
|Location||Calder Freeway, Keilor, Victoria 3036|
|Operator||Australian Motorsport Club Limited|
|Opened||14 January 1962|
Australian NASCAR Championship
Australian National Drag Championships
Australian Grand Prix
|Length||1.801 km (1.119 mi)|
|Banking||Turns - 24°|
|Length||2.280 km (1.417 mi)|
|Lap record||0:52.69 (John Bowe, Veskanda Chevrolet, 1986, Australian Sports Car Championship)|
|Length||1.609 km (1.000 mi)|
|Lap record||0:36.9 (Alan Jones, Williams FW07 Ford, 1980, Formula One)|
|Combined Circuit (road + oval)|
|Length||4.216 km (2.620 mi)|
|Banking||Thunderdome Turns - 24°|
|Lap record||1:45.03 (Andrew Miedecke, Ford Sierra RS500, 1987, World Touring Car Championship)|
Calder Park Raceway is a motor racing circuit in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The complex includes a dragstrip, a road circuit with several possible configurations, and the "Thunderdome", a high-speed banked oval equipped to race either clockwise (for right-hand-drive cars) or counter-clockwise (for left-hand-drive cars such as NASCAR).
Calder Park Raceway was founded in the farming community of Diggers Rest and began as a dirt track carved into a paddock by a group of motoring enthusiasts who wanted somewhere to race their FJ Holdens. one of those men being Patrick Hawthorn, who at the time owned a petrol station in clayton. when one of his clients suggested a place to race, on his property.
The inaugural meeting on a bitumen track was run by the Australian Motor Sports Club and took place on 14 January 1962. The track design was very similar to the existing Club Circuit, which is still in use today. Competitors at this meeting included current Calder Park owner Bob Jane (Autoland Jaguar 3.8 #84), Norm Beechey (Holden #40), John Wood (Holden #83) and Peter Manton (Mini Cooper). In the early 1970s, Bob Jane purchased the track. The Thunderdome was added on the east side of the road circuit in 1987.
In 1984 the circuit was known as Melbourne International Raceway.
The Thunderdome is a purpose-built 1.8 km (1.1 mi) speedway located on the grounds of Calder Park Raceway. It was originally known as the Goodyear Thunderdome to reflect the naming rights sponsorship bought by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
The track is a tri-oval shape, with 24-degree banking on Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4.
The Thunderdome was completed in 1987, but can trace its roots back over twenty years previously when Australian motorsport icon Bob Jane, owner of Calder Park Raceway, travelled to the United States and visited Charlotte Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway numerous times to gauge stock car racing's rise in popularity. In 1981, Jane struck a deal with Bill France Jr. to bring NASCAR racing to Australia and plans were laid out for a tri-oval at the existing Calder Park Raceway.
Ground first broke for the track in 1983 and took four years to complete. It was built at a cost of A$54 million - almost completely funded by Jane - and was opened by the Mayor of Keilor City Council on 3 August 1987.
The first race on the Thunderdome was held just two weeks after its opening, although the track used incorporated both the Thunderdome and the pre-existing National Circuit. It was a 300-kilometre event for touring cars, with John Bowe and Terry Shiel in a Nissan Skyline taking first place - to date the only time a Japanese car has won a race held on the Thunderdome.
The first race that used only the oval was the Goodyear NASCAR 500km held on 28 February 1988, a nationally-televised event which featured some of Australia's top touring car drivers as well as a slew of imports from the Winston Cup, including Bobby Allison (who had won the Daytona 500 that same month, giving the Thunderdome race a big publicity boost), Neil Bonnett, Michael Waltrip, Harry Gant, Morgan Shepherd, Dave Marcis, Rick Wilson and others. Bonnett won the race in a Pontiac Grand Prix. This was the first time a NASCAR event had been staged outside North America and it proved so popular that many of the same drivers returned for another race held at the Thunderdome that December, the Christmas 500, with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford.
The Thunderdome also played host to numerous Australian Stock Car Auto Racing (AUSCAR) events until that series ended in 2001. AUSCAR was unique in that the cars were right hand drive and based on the Australian Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore. Engines were limited to 5.0L which allowed use of the existing Holden V8 engine and the Ford 302 engine. Unlike NASCAR, the AUSCAR's raced clockwise on oval tracks due to being RHD.
Calder Park has hosted events involving Australian touring cars, historics, Super Tourers, Super Trucks and Super Bikes to rock concerts featuring world class artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Santana and Guns N' Roses.
Between 1980 and 1984, Calder Park played host to the Australian Grand Prix. The 1980 race was won by Alan Jones driving the Williams FW07B he drove to win the 1980 Formula One World Championship, the race being open to F1, Formula 5000 and Formula Pacific cars. Young Brazilian driver Roberto Moreno dominated the AGP from 1981-1984, winning the race in 1981, 1983 and 1984, while finishing third behind F1 aces Alain Prost and Jacques Laffite in 1982. During this period, Calder owner Bob Jane managed to entice many F1 drivers to race in the Grand Prix at Calder including Jones, Prost, Laffite, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Keke Rosberg and Andrea de Cesaris, as well as Australian international Geoff Brabham. The 1981-1984 races were open to Formula Pacific cars only with both Moreno and Prost winning the races driving Ralt RT4-Fords.
A round of the 1987 World Touring Car Championship was held on the Calder Park Grand Prix circuit on 11 October 1987
Calder was also the first to host Superbike racing and Truck Racing; the trucks competing on both National and Thunderdome circuits in separate events. The AUSCAR series was developed to race on the Thunderdome.
The National Circuit's long front straight also features a drag strip, which was the home of the Australian National Drag Racing Championship for many years.
There are also Legal Off Street Drag Racing every Friday night unless weather is unsuitable for racing.
|“||Calder Park will continue long into the future, with one of its main focuses being the provision of a quality, affordable racing circuit within close proximity of the Melbourne CBD, for all Victorian motoring clubs and their grass roots membership.||”|
—Bob Jane, (December 2004).
The strip is still regarded the fastest all-bitumen drag strip in the world. Although owing to a long running animosity with the Drag Racing authority ANDRA it has been several years since national level drag racing has been seen at Calder Park to give credence to the claim.
More recently, Calder Park introduced drifting events to its impressive list of motorsport activities. The first ever Drift Nationals held in March 2004 attracted over 8,000 spectators and added another inaugural event to the long list of new activities nurtured by Calder Park Raceway.
- Thunderdome (Oval circuit): Length 1.801 km / 1.119 mi
- National Circuit: Length 2.280 km / 1.417 mi
- Club Circuit: Length 1.609 km / 1.000 mi
The first 100 metres of the Drag Strip was resurfaced in 2006 due to irregularities in the start line area, the strip reopened for the Legal Off Street Drag Racing event on Friday 17 November 2006.
- (Official program) National Panasonic Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne International Raceway, November 6th-7th 1982
- Calder Park Motorsport Official Website: http://www.calderpark.com.au
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