Warwick Farm was the track that classed-up Australian motorsport. Its fast sweeping bends were loved by drivers and its location just 30km from the centre of Sydney and then-lavish spectator facilities – gleaned from the Warwick Farm Racecourse it was built on – added up to a more accessible and civilised motorsport experience than Sydneysiders had ever experienced.
V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93 pays tribute to lost iconic circuits, now treasured memories in the suburban sprawl of New South Wales.
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Warwick Farm was the result of a deal between the Australian Jockey Club (AJC), owner of the racecourse, and motorsport stakeholders in the Liverpool area. The latter were looking for somewhere to build a track, the former was open to ideas that would boost its cashflow. A racetrack built around the horse track was a compromise that suited both parties just fine.
Down in Melbourne a similar arrangement gave us Sandown, but Warwick Farm track designers were rather more enterprising. Rather than merely follow the outline of the track, the Farm used temporary crossings to trace a twisting and turning 3.6km course into the infield of the horse track. It had a mix of long sweeping bends, hairpins, a series of esses and a long 800-metre straight. It was fast, narrow and tree-lined in places and challenging – a driver's track.
Spectators could enjoy the action in relative comfort and in all weather from the existing large grandstand, which offered good views of the start/finish straight, the pits and many of the corners.
Even when it was raining, which was surprisingly often, the crowds down both sides of Hume Straight were inevitably huge.
Warwick Farm held its first meeting in December 1960. Ian Geoghegan won the first touring-car race in a Jaguar 3.4-litre – appropriately, given he would go on to be one of the most spectacular and successful touring-car protagonists there over the next decade. Geoghegan in his famous Mustangs, steaming away from the field at the Farm, armfuls of opposite lock, is an enduring image of touring cars of the 1960s.
Colin Bond remembers: "I'm always asked which are the best circuits... Well, Bathurst is obviously a good circuit, Phillip Island was always a great circuit and the other funny one for me was Lakeside. And Warwick Farm was one that I probably nearly favoured above all of those. It was a shame when it had to close."
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