TRT PREVIEW: SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK
WORDS & IMAGES: Mark Walker
2: Only two permanent tracks in Australia have an FIA Grade 2 license, one of which being Sydney Motorsport Park, the other being The Bend Motorsport Park.
3: Visits by A1 Grand Prix to the venue.
4: Different layouts at Sydney Motorsport Park.
5: Most safety car appearances in a Supercars race at the venue, which came in the third race of the 2004 season.
6: Times Eastern Creek hosted the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
10: Race wins by Mark Skaife, the most of any driver at the venue.
13: Drivers in the field have never led a Supercars lap in competition at the track.
17th: Starting position for Rick Kelly to win in 2004, the lowest of all time from the above mention weather/safety car affected race.
20m: Changes ahead of the 2014 V8 Supercars visit to the venue made the track shorter.
29: Race wins for Holden at Sydney Motorsport Park, 23 for Ford, 1 for Volvo.
43%: Pole starters going on to win, the last being Chaz Mostert in 2015.
138: Light towers have been erected around the circuit, of which zero will be utilised this weekend.
303km: The longest Championship race in the history of the venue back in 2003. The three heat races in 1997 were 47km each.
1,376: Racing laps completed by Craig Lowndes at the venue, the most of any driver ever, with his 42 starts also a record.
4,000: Seats in the grand stand, of which zero will be utilised this weekend.
With the latest iteration of the 2020 calendar scheduling two events at Sydney Motorsport Park, it continues a somewhat interesting tradition of feast or famine for the track. A total of 23 times the ATCC/V8 Supercars/Supercars have visited Eastern Creek/Sydney Motorsport Park over 21 of the past 27 years, with 53 races contested during that time. There were two events held in 2003 and ’04, and no events in 1998, 2006, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13 and ’19.
Looking at the recent form at the venue, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team duo of Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen look to be the pair to beat. In the last 12 races, they have won eight times, with other wins going to Scott McLaughlin (2014), Chaz Mostert (2015, twice) and Fabian Coulthard (2017).
Over the past 10 races at the facility, there have been eight safety car appearances in total. Will a field of Eseries-rage-filled combatants be able to contain themselves?
Eastern Creek was the venue of David Thexton’s first start in the V8 Supercars Championship, having failed to qualify at both Adelaide and Phillip Island to kick off his 2003 campaign. After starting 34th and last, he was classified in 29th, completing 73 of the 77 laps.
Sydney Motorsport Park is uniquely positioned between two ends of the aroma spectrum. To the south: a garbage dump, and to the north: an Arnott’s Biscuit factory. From the best information available, Arnott’s produce around 75 biscuit varieties, which are exported to 40 countries. There are five production lines, ranging from Jatz crackers, to Saladas, Scotch Fingers, Shapes, and finally, Tim Tams. Suggestion to improve motorsport: if the Gold Coast 600 winner gets a surf board, why doesn’t the Sydney Motorsport Park winner get a massive Mint Slice?
1888: The nearby Prospect Reservoir was completed, although these days, the reservoir is used for water supply purposes on average one day a year.
1985: Wonderland Sydney opened just down the road from SMP. It closed in 2004.
1989: Development of the circuit was approved, with construction quickly kicking into gear.
1990: Opening year for Eastern Creek, with Superbikes in July, before the Nissan Sydney 500 in November, which was won by Larry Perkins/Tomas Mezera, from a field of 36 starters.
1991: With the a Victorian Government arguing with the tobacco industry following the inaugural Motorcycle AGP at Phillip Island in 1989, the event moved north to Eastern Creek.
1992: The Winfield Triple Challenge of touring cars, bikes and drags kicked off, running for four years.
1996: The ARDC relocates from Amaroo Park to Eastern Creek.
1996: The final 500cc AGP at Eastern Creek ends in drama, with Alex Criville clattering into teammate Mick Doohan at the hairpin behind the pits on the last lap. Not a good way to impress your hosts…
2003: Russell Ingall absolutely fenced Mark Skaife at the same part of the circuit. Greg Murphy missed the race with a bad back. Marcos Ambrose won the title as lightning killed the power supply to the facility. That race had a bit on…
2004: The adjacent Western Sydney International Dragway opened, after drag racing the wrong way up the Eastern Creek main straight had come to a top level conclusion.
2005: A1 Grand Prix arrives for the first of three events, with Will Davison driving for Australia. For the next two years the host country was represented by Karl Reindler and John Martin, while Chris Alajajian scored a gig with Lebanon in 2008.
2011: The venue played host to the pre-season V8 Supercars test, which was repeated from 2013 to ’15. The 2013 test was the first to feature the COTF and had a practice “Action Zone” spec rolling start (below), while 2015 controversially went head-to-head with the Bathurst 12 Hour.
2012: Major renovations are carried out to the facility, which also received a re-branding to Sydney Motorsport Park.
In this section, we typically give the low down for trackside punters. Since there will be zero of those this week, it would be a shame to waste this third portion of the preview template…
Best Local Feed
Uber Eats run a wonderful service where they deliver food to your home, so you can dine during, or indeed after the race.
Best Local Beer
Jimmy Brings literally brings booze to your home within 30 minutes. What sort of witchcraft is this?
Best Local Things to Do After Racing
Board games? Something on the computer? Netflix? I’m not the boss of you.
Best Traffic Tip
Best Photography from Punterville
Gees, I’d hate to break this to you…