Australia’s story as a racing destination really is incredible
When professional car racing first began, Australia was a nation with a small population, accessible from the northern hemisphere only via a long and arduous journey. It also lacked the local presence of manufacturers like Ferrari and Mercedes who helped quickly establish a rich racing tradition in Europe. Despite this, Australia was able to build race tracks that Aussies and citizens of the world alike adored visiting to watch top-notch car racing.
As a result, we have an abundance of iconic race tracks across the Great Southern Land today. They’re used by a great variety of gearheads, from the world’s elite car racing professionals all the way to weekend warriors keen to give their ride a whirl on track day. If there’s one challenge of having so many fantastic race tracks in this country, it’s that it can be hard to remember them all. Here’s a list of 5 of the most famous race tracks Down Under.
1. Phillip Island
The Phillip Island Circuit is located around 2 hours outside of Melbourne and has a racing heritage tracing all the way back to the 1920s. The current track has been in use since 1956, although it’s undergone minor changes over the years.
For over 60 years now, it’s been recognised as an amazing free-flowing circuit with the stunning backdrop of Port Phillip Bay surrounding it. This famous track has played host to Aussie motorcycle riders like Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner and is today a permanent fixture each year in the MotoGP calendar.
2. The Adelaide Street Circuit
From 1985 to 1995, the Adelaide Street Circuit hosted the Australian F1 Grand Prix. This famous track saw racing icons like Alain Prost, Aryton Senna, and Michael Schumacher score podiums on their journey to winning the F1 World Driver’s Championship. As it was regularly the last race of the season, this track often had high stakes drama as competitors looked to win the last points of the season, and therefore always had a great party atmosphere once the race was finished.
Although Melbourne has since created a famous race track in its own right with Albert Park (more on that to follow), it’s a tribute to Adelaide that many racing purists ultimately regard this circuit as the better of the two. Although F1 cars no longer roar around this track, its V8 Supercars event has become one of the most hotly anticipated of the series. This is certainly a legendary race track that continues to deliver new memories each and every year.
3. Albert Park
Adelaide’s loss of the Australian Grand Prix was Melbourne’s gain, held since 1996 at the Albert Park circuit. Located in the seaside suburb of St Kilda just outside the Melbourne CBD, this track provides fantastic racing yearly with a stunning backdrop of a beloved Aussie beach. Albert Park is also particularly special given the ease with which anyone can take a lap of the circuit in their own car, which is not something race fans can always do at other tracks.
It’s possible to drive around the circuit’s many turns any day of the week. Even a seasoned gearhead will struggle to not to grin widely when they drive down the home straight past where the pit crew and finish line is. That said, local authorities are aware that many motorists may be tempted to imitate a pro driver for a few moments, so there are speed cameras around the track to help ensure that all non-F1 drivers drive it at a safe speed.
4. Sandown Raceway
Sandown Raceway is a track that, along with Phillip Island and Albert Park, enhances Victoria’s claim to possessing the greatest collection of famous race tracks in Australia. Until Albert Park arrived on the scene, Sandown was regarded by many as Victoria’s premier circuit — and to some still is!
It’s where brilliant Aussie racers like Jack Brabham, Alan Jones, and other heroes of auto racing have shown off their skills to a home audience. The circuit still finds regular use today, most notably among drag racing enthusiasts.
Formula One and MotoGP tracks in Australia are rightfully famous. Events in these categories are truly global events, and home-grown Aussie drivers have made a name for themselves competing with the very best in these races. But Bathurst — AKA Mount Panorama — is perhaps the most famous track of all among Australians, and is also recognized around the globe as uniquely Australian.
The New South Wales circuit plays host each year to the V8 Supercar race, where legendary battles between Ford and Holden have played out. It’s also where brilliant racers like Peter Brock and Craig Lowndes have cemented their status as giants. Being located in rural Australia also adds an extra special touch. Just as Australia is the land of sun, sea, and sand, we also have a fantastic tradition of taking hard, hot, and dusty roads — and Bathurst is the very best of them.
Taking a harder road
Australia does not have a Hockenheim or Monza in its collection of famous race tracks, but it’s arguably got something even better. All Aussie gearheads certainly have immense respect for those wonderful tracks outside our borders, but it’s not surprising that such outstanding circuits would pop up with Silver Arrows or Prancing Horse factories essentially just down the road.
These Australian tracks are so special because in many ways, their successful creation was unexpected and unlikely. That’s why Aussies and foreign racing fans alike can celebrate these 5 circuits, for the stories behind their creation, what they’ve brought to racing throughout their histories, and what more they’ll contribute to racing in years ahead. They showcase today’s stars and are helping forge the stars of tomorrow — and all do so with a distinctive Aussie identity.