Upgrades for historic Tasmanian circuit

Extensive works have been undertaken at Baskerville Raceway. Image: Supplied

Australia’s second longest continuously operating circuit, Baskerville Raceway near Hobart, has welcomed a steady stream of upgrades to enhance safety at the facility.

Led by an army of volunteers forming the Baskerville Foundation, capital works such as installing new armco barriers, installing new gravel traps and tyre bundles as well as pushing back fencing at Turn 4 are just of the improvements made to the facility.

“We would have liked to have been a bit further down the track with the upgrades, but COVID pushed it back and we missed out on a couple of meetings to bring money in to progress the site,” explained Motorsport Tasmania General Manager Donald Potter.

Works have been focused on improving the experience for the competitor and through the aid of a variety of companies including Tasmanian motorsport patron Andrew Walter Constructions, these have completed ahead of this weekend’s Baskerville Historics event.

“We’ve had to employ a couple of expert contractors to do the earthworks, the twin-tonne truck and excavator were donated, with the guys driving it are motorsport people, but in the end needed to earn a living,” explained Potter.

“We didn’t own the ground at the top of the hill at Turn 4, so we started off having a discussion with the cherry farmer next door, who is a good friend of ours and resulted in a land swap.

“We gave him some land we didn’t use and he provided the area we needed. I think there was about 3000m2 that was needed enabling us to push the wall back 48m compared to it previously being 12m.

“With this new work we needed to install around a kilometre of new armco to replace the tyre wall. It used to be an earth bank with tyres there and we removed the wall. The amount of tyres removed from the wall totalled 8000. Andrew Walter Constructions donated all the armco providing a significant cost saving.”

Work also extended to replacing many of the ploughed areas used to arrest cars on the outside of corners with the latest FIA standard gravel, which will be fully utilised around the circuit.

“There was about $25,000 worth of washed pebbles (gravel) or 300 tonnes installed meeting the highest levels,” Potter said.

“Even though the track isn’t an FIA venue we still want to keep the standard. Of course, where we got it here in Tasmania was the other end of the island, so this cost a bit to freight and it wasn’t in the original upgrade plans.”

Volunteers continue to build FIA specification tyre bundles for Baskerville and Symmons Plains utilising the latest methods in tethering.

“There’s a new standard for FIA tyre bundles in the method of bolting together, so for both circuits in Baskerville and Symmons Plains we’ve got a program here to build those,” Potter revealed.

The pit paddock is the next area to improve and work has already begun by enclosing the stalls providing a better working platform.

“We’ve also improved the garages in the pit paddock by putting concrete floors in and installing roller doors,” Potter said. “We’re hoping to have more carports, bitumen and facilities within the pit complex for the competitors.

“Pit lane surfacing is on the cards after power and drainage upgrades are complete.”

Potter declared the circuit won’t be upgraded to full-FIA sanctioning by incorporating concrete walls and debris fencing as Potter confirmed the Australian Racing Group will return to Baskerville, but just as a non-title event replicating the same structure as 2021.

“They are coming to Baskerville next year, but I don’t believe the circuit will be the championship ready at any time,” revealed Potter.

“To make it FIA compliant the circuit needs concrete walls and debris fences to start, but to do this I think Baskerville would lose its appeal. The pits also inside the track proves another problem, so there will always be demonstration or like we had the Baskerville 10,000 with Trans Am a couple of years ago when it was a great race and weekend.

“It won’t be championship and we don’t need that as we’ve got Symmons Plains.”

The main income for upgrades comes from the Baskerville Historics event, which is back to full strength this year following multiple editions hampered by COVID. More than 200 entries both locally and from the mainland will converge on Baskerville representing all aspects of motorsport.

The event occurs this weekend.

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