THE 2020 SUPERCARS SEASON OPTIONS
LET’S face the facts, when we crank the 2020 Supercars season up again, it could look vastly different.
WORDS & ARTWORK: Mark Walker
Given the potential for a level of social distancing well into the future, alongside the prospect of continued limiting of mass gatherings, there may be the need to place an emphasis on television only events.
The Supercars Eseries has proven a point – it is literally a product that cannot be attended, and people are tuning in en masse.
A major factor that will help shape the form of the calendar is the potential for street circuits to be taken off the agenda.
Temporary facilities, and the government funding of these events, occur for multiple reasons – with a primary driver being a boost for local tourism.
If spectators are for the short term a nonstarter, would other potential benefits, such as construction jobs be enough to get them across the line? Or will governments send the funding off in other directions during this challenging time?
Is it worth the effort of the Northern Territory backing a Hidden Valley round? It is a long way to go to not race in front of anyone.
Is New Zealand a genuine option with international quarantine periods in play against a compact calendar?
The thing is, at this stage nobody knows. What we can do, is throw some options out there.
There could well be a requirement to have events run close to each other in a tight schedule, mid-week events should not be out of the question, ditto the doubling up of facilities to host multiple events, as well as the possibility of practicing/qualifying/racing on the same day – it has been done before recently.
This opens the chance to use some alternate venues, those which may not necessarily qualify for a typical round, or use the different variations of permanent circuits that already exist to ease repetitiveness.
Hell, the Eseries is running multiple tracks each night, and that variety is great!
One overarching item to keep in mind through all this is costs – without the income associated with ticket sales, track hire and long-distance travel for the crews should also be considered.
Below is a list of the tracks that offer up multiple layouts (and a throwback wildcard), so an extended stay at the one facility could essentially give the gift of different racetracks.
Hit us up on the socials @theracetorque and let us know where you would like to see the Supercars race this season!
Morgan Park Raceway
This hidden jewel of the state-level motorsport scene might be lacking the bells and whistles typically required to host the Supercars circus.
That said, if a low-cost behind closed-doors option is required, the regional Queensland venue ticks a lot of boxes.
Starting as a 700m dirt short track in the 1960s, from the late 1990s, the facility’s custodians the Warwick District Sporting Car Club paved the track, extended it, extended it again in 2002, and once more in 2010.
All told, there are 12 different layouts to choose from, but the 700m and 1.2km varieties would be too dinky to consider, and the pit lane is not up to spec for full pit stop races.
Supercars have lapped the track before when other local options were not available, and the upside of a lack of previous use and subsequent data is a level playing field.
The nature of the circuit options vary from full Winton-spec to Phillip Island fast, with some epic character building bumps thrown in to the mix.
Give it a go.
The Bend Motorsport Park
The Adelaide 500 – done. Between The Bend and the company owned Mallala, much of the Supercars Championship could be hosted within the borders of South Australia on a variety of different layouts.
The Bend is clearly a goliath – while the 4.95km long international layout has been used by the Supercars Championship for the past couple of years, the 7.77km iteration as used by the Asian Le Mans Series is an epic.
Compare that to the shorter East (3.93km) and West (3.41km), there are plenty of contrasting layouts, which could be added to with the use of the infield wiggles around turn one on the main track.
Picture this – two consecutive weekends, four different layouts, with a Wednesday night special under lights on the East track.
Sign us up now.
Sydney Motorsport Park
Lights – no problem, they are being installed as we speak.
Sydney Motorsport Park has an interesting array of options – the classic 3.93km long Gardner Circuit is great, but the full 4.5km Brabham version would add in a new challenge.
The extended outer loop has been tested by Supercars previously when there was initial consideration being put forward for the SuperNight concept, with the tight and twisty 1.8km (aptly named Amaroo) circuit potentially adding a bullring to the mix.
The shorter 2.8km North track was used in its old configuration by the Touring Car circus in 1996, and remains the layout of choice for Supercars ride days, with the quicker lap allowing for more punters through on a given day.
Options aplenty, and those permanent light fixtures take away a major level of cost.
Although initially dropped from the calendar, QR poses an interesting set of possibilities.
Easy to light and easy to broadcast with fewer cameras, the shorter versions (between 1.89km and 2.15km) may be dinkier, but they do eliminate a couple of boring straights, and they have all been used for lower level CAMS sanctioned competition over the years.
Who knows – if the Eseries experience at Talladega and Daytona goes well, the Sportsman layout that runs the perimeter of the facility could be the closest going thing we have to a (near) oval track.
There was been some internet fun and games recently suggesting the Silverstone track could be run in the backwards direction, but we have a track here in Australia, ready to roll reverse!
Over the years, the short version (1.76km) of the Waneroo track has been turned around for state level events.
Worried about the head on run in the concrete wall at the end of the pit straight? Don’t stress – they figured this out with a detour to the outside of the major ripple strip coming out the final turn, which slows the cars and changes the angle of attack to the fence.
The recently installed chicane for motorcycles behind the pits could also be used to spice things up.
If the circus is touring the whole way across The Paddock to WA, why not have a few races?
Like Morgan Park, the little-known Collie Motorplex is a perfectly serviceable CAMS spec track, which recently had a $2.6million renovation.
Originally built around access roads associated with an old coal mine, the longest track available now registers at 2.55km, some 140m longer than Waneroo.
If we are looking for a fresh take on the Retro Round, why not have a run around the clothesline on the old Winton short circuit?
Prior to the 1997 renovations which saw the main track drawn out to 3.0km, the original 2.03km layout set the benchmark for tight and twisty.
The nation’s Action Track is what we need now more than ever…
Mallala Motorsport Park
Mallala may be old-school, but it has plenty of positives when it comes to a potential Supercars round – for the first time since 1998.
For starters, the facility remains in decent nick with the re-surfacing of the Turn 5 Northern Hairpin the first major step in a planned series of improvements by new owners, the Shahin family.
Secondly, the place has lights and while they may not be super-bright, they are effective enough to get some prime-time Supercars racing rolling.
Thirdly, the owners have said that they want to reintroduce national-level racing to the circuit, 50km north of Adelaide, so this would be a perfect proof of concept.
You could send them under lights at Mallala in a one-night only show which would rate its proverbial off, before sending them to The Bend.
While the above give options for multiple layouts, there are of course many other facilities that would be on the agenda.
Symmons Plains could potentially be tweaked with the use of the motorcycle chicane after the opening sequence of corners, and while we are in Tasmania, why not swing by Hobart’s Baskerville Raceway?
Short at 2.01km, it’s a wild layout that would spice things up.
Wakefield Park is another bullring at 2.2km, although it has history with Supercars having formerly hosted Development Series events.
There of course are larger tracks that regularly find the schedule like Hidden Valley, Phillip Island and Sandown, which would still require tricky scheduling around the horse racing schedule.
While other old school tracks such as Calder Park, Adelaide International and Lakeside have fallen by the wayside in terms of race-ability and licensing.
(Half of AIR has been dug up.. but how about Supercars RallyCross? – Ed)
Oh, there’s also Bathurst. Please may we still race at Bathurst…