The New South Wales Government is set to announce the site for a new Sydney speedway “shortly” as the current operators push their own proposal.
Valvoline Raceway (Sydney Speedway) is to be demolished to make way for a train stabling yard as part of the multi-billion-dollar Metro West project, although the government has promised that a replacement will be built.
Minister for Transport Andrew Constance and Acting Minister for Sport Geoff Lee suggested that government-owned land in Western Sydney would be suitable for a new speedway.
However, Sydney Speedway principal Felicity Waldron is concerned that the new facility would be compromised if it was to be built adjacent to the Sydney Motorsport Park circuits and/or the neighbouring Sydney Dragway.
Speedway Australia and Sydney Speedway are pushing for the government to commit to construction of the new speedway at the nearby ‘Light Horse Interchange’ (LHI) where several major roads intersect, including the M4 motorway which passes Sydney Motorsport Park just to its north.
The LHI proposal, which Sydney Speedway claims to have provided to the Minister for Transport, is said to require minimal earthworks and would be located on land which is already mostly cleared.
Sydney Speedway reasons that the site is of sufficient size such that all infrastructure which exists at the present Clyde (near Parramatta) facility could be rebuilt or relocated there.
When asked why the LHI site was the operators’ preferred option, Waldron told Speedcafe.com that its proximity to the M4 and M7, the former of which runs past the present speedway, was another factor.
“One, it retains the identity of the ‘speedway by the freeway’; two, you’ll actually be able to see the speedway so exactly like we’ve got here on the M4,” said Waldron.
“It will be able to handle future growth if the sport does grow; it will also be able to accommodate holding a Sydney Speedway GP there; and it will see that we’ll be able to have a future in 2023 of a hundred years (of speedway racing) and growth instead of a death.”
Within the existing Sydney Motorsport Park/Sydney Dragway precinct, there is unused land just to the west of the drag strip.
However, Waldron maintains that there would be no room for car parking in that location, which would dampen spectator attendances.
Dust generated by the speedway would also affect the operation of the dragway, with both factors likely necessitating the venues to offset their events from each other.
“There will be no parking for any of our patrons, so you’re not going to get them to come there,” explained Waldron about the unsuitability of building adjacent to the dragway.
“If there’s no parking, we can’t pay competitors, the competitors won’t come there.
“If we have to coordinate calendars because our dust affects ARDC (Australian Racing Drivers’ Club, operator of Sydney Motorsport Park) and Dragway, we’re going to limit what we can race instead of what we’ve got now, and the traffic on the road would be off-putting for anyone wishing to go out there, so there’s a lot of reasons there.”
When asked if a site for a new speedway had been decided, a spokesman for the NSW Government told Speedcafe.com, “An announcement for the site of the new Sydney speedway will be made shortly.
“The Government is committed to providing funding to build a new home for speedway racing.
“The investment will benefit the sport of speedway racing for generations to come.”
Waldron insists that Made Too Go Pty Ltd, which trades as Sydney Speedway, would not take up a lease on the new site if they do not deem the facility to be suitable, and claims to have not been sufficiently consulted by the government.
“They have issued a statement saying that we’ll get first rights of refusal on the lease, but if the place is not fit for purpose, then we’re not going to accept it,” she added.
“If it’s not going to work, we can’t accept it on the sport’s behalf. If they’re going to cut it in half (site size) and you’re not going to get anyone there, we can’t accept that in good faith.
“So there are so many things that if we sort of knew the answers, then we’d know what we were dealing with but they keep on putting us off, which just makes me think that…
“They looked at it years ago, putting the speedway out there by the dragway, and there were so many issues and the issues are going to come up again, so we’ll spend another 12 months fighting and getting nowhere.
“We don’t want that, we want the government to make the right decision now, and build the speedway; we’ll go out there, happy days.”
Waldron confirmed that their lease on the current site runs until June 2021, previously with an option for another five years, and declared that construction “really need(s) to start now” in order for a new speedway to be ready for the 2021/22 season.