The Miracle Return of Lakeside Raceway
We reported last year on the epic saga of the closing, the reopening, the redevelopment and ongoing dramas involving Lakeside Raceway.
A venue with a complicated history, Lakeside was closed in mid-2001, with the presiding mayor at the time vowing the facility would never be used again for motorsport.
The track fell into disrepair – the image to the right shows the weeds growing through the cracks a mere six months after its initial shuttering.
Lakeside, though, is a phoenix.
Through the concerted efforts of Queensland Raceway CEO John Tetley, against the odds, Lakeside rose from the ashes.
Below are two articles the author contributed at the time to Auto Action, previewing and wrapping up the initial return event, which took place in 2008.
The quantity of weed whacking and slashing to simply arrive at a raceable track for this initial return to competition is a tribute to the team who revived the venue.
Ultimately, it would be one of the last events to be held on the original circuit configuration (another one-day event was held in June), with the tired patchwork of bitumen coming off worse for wear against the return of race cars.
As mentioned in the stories linked above, the venue was reborn in 2009 with a new coat of blacktop, and an altered design from the last corner through to the kink.
With the benefit of hindsight, it was a miracle the original layout had one final blast.
PREVIEW: Racing to Return to Lakeside
Lakeside will make a surprise return to action on April 6, with a low key meeting being used mainly as a test of the strict noise restrictions to be put in place for the facility.
The meeting is the first to be run at the famed facility since its gates closed in 2001, and entries will be limited to a maximum of 60 regular Queensland Raceway competitors split into four or five small groups.
The basis of the meeting will be to test cars to ensure that they do not break the firm 92.2 dB noise limit, with assessments to be carried out on all cars statically, and while active on the circuit.
Data logging noise meters will be in use around the circuit so that a comprehensive noise management plan can be established.
The static noise testing has already commenced on some vehicles at recent mid-week sprint events at Queensland Raceway.
The meeting will however be held with little fanfare, with spectators not encouraged to attend, with the front entrance gates closed after competitors arrive.
In a statement issued by Queensland Raceways CEO John Tetley, it was stressed that the future of Lakeside is far from certain.
Pending a court decision in late April and successful sound testing, it is hoped that low-level meetings will continue until September, when the facility will be closed for a serious redevelopment, including track and safety alterations.
Small changes have been made to the race track surroundings, although much of the facility will be presented as it was last used.
One of the competitors of note at that return meet was Tony Quinn, pictured above aboard his Ford Sierra.
REPORT: Triumphant Return for Lakeside
Many people never thought it would happen, but motor racing made a triumphant yet low key come back to Lakeside Raceway on April 6.
The meeting was limited to 50 entries, with the main purpose of the day being sound testing, with cars tested within the pits and at various places around the circuit as well as surrounding properties.
The meeting was the culmination of over three and half years of work by the new circuit operator and Queensland Raceway CEO John Tetley.
“If you had seen this place two months ago, the way it looked then, I just about cried,” said Mr Tetley.
“I’m a year delayed on the plans because of all of the court cases, and we still have a couple to get through, but we are getting there, and we should get back to being a proper operation for quiet race cars; we can make Lakeside live for another 40 years.
“We’re working on a time frame of around 10 years, you know as the bank gives you the money you go and spend it; you make the money and pay off the bank and you can borrow more money- that’s the way business works.”
Much effort has already gone into transforming the circuit, with considerable earthworks and clearing off the trees that had grown since the last race meeting held at the circuit in July 2001.
Some of the future improvements to the circuit include a new tunnel under the Eastern Loop to service the pits, a new office building to be placed at the main gate, a new drivers briefing room, as well as the refurbishment of the ‘Lakeside Room’.
Special guests at the meeting included seven local councillors and the Pine Rivers Shire Mayor, with the day going off largely incident-free despite a lunchtime downpour.
The Lakeside Latest
It has recently been reported that works are underway at the venue to add a new spectator bank between the race track and the lake near the kink, with the change set to double as a noise barrier for nearby properties.
Concurrently, there is also drainage work being carried out, to limit water pooling after heavy rains.