When I first moved to Sydney in 1980 a Friday night at Parramatta Raceway was something that became a regular thing for my girl and me. Often this was backed up by a Saturday night at Liverpool City Raceway and on one memorable weekend both were followed by Sunday at Oran Park Raceway.
Two of those venues have disappeared into motorsport history. But the first still lives on as Valvoline Raceway and earlier this year Made Too Go Pty Ltd took over the rights of promotion with Steven Green returning as Manager.
Recent years had seen a steady decline in crowd numbers and in some divisions competitor numbers. Constant rumours were circulating about a forced closure by the NSW Government to expand the Heliport that shares the property. Those rumours have been put to bed at least for some years to come.
In the lead up to the season opener, on October 4 2014, a steady stream of infrastructure work was announced culminating in the unveiling of a permanent 40 square metre video screen erected on the infield. Amongst the other work is a permanent bar on the hill overlooking turn 1, new and expanded concrete walkways, children’s playground, new toilets, upgraded computer systems and associated cabling. The cost of all this is in the millions. Add to that the pairing of Stu McCartney and Wade Aunger on the microphones with the addition of Michaela Dumesney as roving reporter and some changes in policy to make a night at the skids more family friendly and it was looking like there was a good chance of the venue coming back.
It was a last minute decision on my part to attend opening night but I have to say it was something I’m glad I did. Often in past seasons this has been the night of the gold coin donation entry and one of the biggest crowds of the season rolls in but most of the first timers don’t come back on a full price night. What I saw was a really very good-sized crowd, and they had paid full price to be there. There was in fact a buzz of enthusiasm in the crowd. I talked to a number of people on the turn 1 hill, some hadn’t been to the place for many seasons and like me were interested to see what all the talk was about.
What we were presented with was good entertainment and some close racing, I have to say here that Sprintcars and other non-sedans aren’t my real interest as I’m a sedan fan but I enjoyed the racing. The commentary was entertaining and insightful and the big screen was most definitely a big hit with the mobile cameras allowing spectators to get in on the interviews and action from different angles. The view from the Turn 1 Judges Bar was excellent, old time fans of the place will know the story and the people behind the name. There were of course a few hiccups and issues but with so much work done in a short period you would have to expect them.
Whilst it’s early days, as I write this only 6 meetings have been run, everything points to the “Speedway by the Freeway” being on the path back to a well supported part of the motorsport scene in Australia and it looks like Sydney will still have an operating speedway into the future.