STRIPPED BARE: Street Circuits 51 Weeks a Year
As it transpires, street circuits are kind of important.
If you’ve been hiding under a rock, Richard Craill’s excellent piece – We need to save the Adelaide Street Circuit – from last Sunday shone a light on what our temporary venues mean to the industry and its fanbase.
The relative value of street circuits versus permanent venues debate will rage until the end of the sport, but the fact remains: street circuits are a shop window for the sport – they make it accessible to the masses.
Also, they have hosted some of the most significant moments in the history the sport on our soil.
Take for instance Schumacher versus Hill at Adelaide in 1994, or Nigel Mansell’s epic tyre explosion from 1986.
Mansell’s win on the streets of the Gold Coast in 1993 put Indycar on the world map, while five years later, Alex Zanardi celebrated his last ever Indycar win with his final official set of donuts.
Then there’s Martin Brundle’s gynamistics three corners into the first World Driver’s Championship event at Albert Park in 1996, or the fact that the venue has a history that dates back to 1953, when legends of the sport such as Sir Stirling Moss were successful.
And that’s just scratching the surface – each venue has its tale to tell, and by the very definition of being street circuits, they are easily accessed throughout the year by punters looking to reminisce.
Some offer up many more clues than others: tracks like Adelaide and Townsville have permanent sections that meld together with the public roads, but then the Gold Coast almost returns to a complete state of anonymity out of race weekends.
Below is a selection of the circuits that we have returned to outside of event weekends for an explore…
The top-left image in this set is as good a reason as any to visit Adelaide.
It’s hard to picture how this bare paddock has for so many years been transformed into the leading event of its type in the region.
Craill’s pics set the scene nicely: put Victoria Park on your itinerary the next time you are in the South of Australia.
You probably already know this, but the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit is right next the beach.
The top image depicts the typical scene at non-race meeting times – the glorious golden sands running right up the edge of the beachside chicane.
The remaining images in the sequence show the scenes following a storm that hit the Gold Coast over a decade ago, with the beach washing up over the streets used to race on.
The bottom two are reasonably telling: the Pacific Ocean wound up not only spilling up over the race track and into the Nerang River, but also over the bridge and onto Macintosh Island!
Touch wood, a weather event of this magnitude never strikes during a race weekend!
The Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu: what do they all have in common? None of them enter the conversation in terms of the engineering feat achieved by the designers of the Canberra Street Circuit!
Quite how they shoehorned a race track into an area where a race track really had no business being located, is a minor miracle.
Take for instance the bottom image of the collection, taken from near the pit wall at the turn one end of pit straight.
Firstly, V8 Supercars used that two-lane road on the right for a start-finish straight, and secondly, they shoehorned the pits, the pit wall and associated paraphernalia into that tiny space on the left.
Also, keep in mind these pics were taken in mid-2004, and the above painted over pit markings were some of the only reminders that this was indeed once a race track, such was the event’s low impact on the area.
Fingers crossed Canberra Mk2 gets off the ground, and with a non-June calendar slot…
In non-pandemic times, Albert Park is at the thriving heart of Melbourne, on any given weekend it is jam-packed with locals getting their sporting fix.
From sailing to general exercise, to any number of team sports. There are also a few major venues within the bounds of the park, namely the Lakeside Stadium for Athletics, the St Kila Cricket Ground, the Commonwealth Games Aquatic Centre, plus am 18 hole golf course.
Not being left out, the F1 pit garages are repurposed during the year for indoor sports use.
Unlike Surfers Paradise, it is low impact on the city: it is self-contained within its own block, and closing the roads down does not massively alter traffic flow on surrounding arterials. This said, you cannot complete a full lap of the track in one go during the year – it is blocked off at turn six to deter hooning.
Want to read up more on the fun facts from Albert Park? We wrote about it extensively back in 2017.
Recently we checked out the changes to the Albert Park layout ahead of the 2022 Australian Grand Prix – you can check it out right here.
Been to a street circuit away from race weekend? Hit us up on the socials @theracetorque with your pics!