Amaroo Park

In the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, there is a section called Column 8.  Most days, the paper is worth purchasing just for this small snippet.

Column 8 contains irreverent information and queries from the public.  People are able to point out oddities as well as ask and answer questions.  Due to the small size of the column, it’s difficult to get your name “up in lights” and so it becomes quite an honour to make the grade.

Just this week, I snuck into a question about names of brands that have replaced the product.  As an example I’ll use what I’d sent in.  The brand Kleenex has replaced the tissue that it is.

While coming up with this brand, I recalled another brand that used to also replace the product.  Bitumen.  This worked so well that in my younger days I believed it was all asphalt, but it was eventually pointed out that Bitumen was the brand.

This then led a tiny step to Bitupave Hill.  For those that do not know, this was part of a track in Sydney called Amaroo Park Raceway. Amaroo Park is now just a shadow on Google maps.

Amaroo Park was a brilliant little track that unfortunately had to close due to encroaching civilisation and also that it was essentially outgrown by the racing.

It was a simple track with only 7 corners, one of which was completely out of sight of spectators.  With only 2 main viewing areas, there was also a limit to how big a crowd could get.

I’d been to a few events at the track from state and club level competitions up to Super Tourers and the Australian Touring Car Championship.  The racing was always interesting and usually exciting (noting that every track has boring races from time to time, no matter how great the track is).

The main feature, and one of the reasons the track needed to close, was Stop-Go corner.  This was the second last corner on the track.  The lead in was a right-hand sweeper with a short straight coming up to a ninety degree right-hand corner with no runoff.  When I say ‘no runoff’, I mean there wasn’t any at all.  There was a concrete wall right in front of the driver as they approached the corner.

Stop-Go was an excellent overtaking opportunity but also a recipe for disaster.

In the mid-90s, I saw one of the worst looking accidents I’ve ever seen in person.

Production car racing at the time was supporting the Australian Super Touring Championship.  They ran semi-enduro racing with multiple classes.  At the top of the tree were Porsche 911s and it went down to Nissans and Toyota Corollas.

At the front of the race was Jim Richards and Peter Fitzgerald, both in 911s.  They fought tooth and nail, passing eachother as they went through the very thick traffic.  About mid-way through the race, Fitzgerald made a lunge up the inside of Richards but there wasn’t quite enough space.  On the way through, Fitzgerald went through the dirt just in front of the ripple strip taking a chunk out in the process.

Towards the end of the race, another 911, driven by Terry Bosnjak, was going through some traffic – yes, also coming up to Stop-Go Corner.  On the approach, he had brake failure!

Bosnjak did a very good job avoiding the other cars but was running out of track.  He moved to the right and went through the hole left by Fitzgerald earlier and the nose of the car lifted into the air.  Then came the tyre and concrete wall of Stop-Go.  Bosnjak’s car went high into the air, over five metres high using the advertising hoarding as a gauge, and returned to the ground heavily.

Thankfully Terry had little injury and was able to get out through the windscreen but the car was a write off.  The small divot that had appeared earlier in the race quite likely saved him from serious injury as it put enough movement into the car so that it didn’t hit square to the wall.

It’s a shame Amaroo had to close but all good things come to an end eventually.

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