Address: Queenslands Raceways, 103 Champions Way, Willowbank, Ipswich QLD 4306, Australia
PH: +61 1800 722 377
Circuit type: Permanent road course
Queensland Raceway emerged on the scene in 1999, a purpose-built facility which quickly usurped Lakeside as the State's most-used motorsport facility.
The track, near the city of Ipswich in south west Queensland, grew out of a bold decision by the local authority to purchase and dedicate an area of land for motorsport activities in the 1980s. The Ipswich Motorsport Precinct was the result. Located next to a military airbase and several mines, it does not suffer from the same noise or development constraints that other circuits often encounter. Indeed, any racing activity would have to go some to out-do the deafening roar of RAAF Base Amberley's F/A-18F Super Hornets and F-35 Lightnings...
First to be developed on the site was a quarter-mile drag strip, known as Willowbank Raceway. It quickly became one of the busiest such facilities in Australia, hosting annually the Winternationals, one of the largest drag racing festivals in the southern hemisphere.
Queensland Raceway itself was next to arrive, opening in 1999 and quickly earning the nickname of 'The Paperclip' due to its simplistic design. However, the simplicity belies the research that went into the layout, with designer Tony Slattery having considerable input from car and motorcycle racing authorities, including CAMS circuit expert Professor Rod Troutbeck. The philosophy was to provide the maximum length of straights possible within a 3.2km lap distance, thus giving many deep braking zones to encourage overtaking.
"The circuit layout has suffered some criticism over it's simplistic design, but this was controlled by a number of factors that could not be changed; the shape and topography of the site, the FIA design requirements, and the most important - the construction budget," explains Slattery.
"Detailed computer modelling was used to adjust the basic circuit layout and refine the "fit" of the circuit to the site, as well as determine the safe run off required for each corner. All sections of the circuit are 12m in width - that's at least four cars wide when racing."
The full 3.12km National Circuit was designed primarily for the top level classes in Australian motorsport and features four straights of varying lengths to provide a balanced opportunity for passing on each lap. The shorter Clubman Circuit changes from the National Circuit just after exiting Turn 2, when you need a moderate brake to a downhill right-hand connection across to Turn 4.
The Sprint Circuit was designed for road cars as it is easier on the brakes than all other layouts. It follows the same corners as the Clubman Circuit but instead of turning right through the dipper you turn left, entering the intermediate back straight with adverse exit crossfall. The short blast down to the other connection gives you a little time to size up the opposition, before a right turn to the connection and a tightening left hander to join Turn 6.
A fourth variant, the Sportsman Circuit, follows the National Circuit to Turn 3, but on exiting Turn 3 there is a wide, slightly dipped connection on the left across to Turn 6. It was developed with truck racing in mind but is today rarely used.
Among the first events held at the new circuit in its first year was the Queensland 500, the first endurance round of the V8 Supercars season. Russell Ingall and Larry Perkins ran out the winners. After the collapse of the original circuit operators, Motorsport Queensland, there was less appetite for an endurance race and the the fixture switched to a standard sprint round from 2003.
Under new ownership, the track has firmly established itself as a race and test venue and is popular with spectators, as the 50-car racing pits and viewing mounds are all on the outside of the circuit, allowing for a completely unobstructed view of the while lap.
Drivers have been slightly less enthusiastic – flat as a pancake, the circuit is no Mount Panorama – and the bumpy surface in latter years drew criticism. Circuit owner John Tetley promised a full resurfacing at the end of 2010, but this had to be postponed by 12 months due to the large scale flooding which affected the State (and completely submerged the Raceway) creating a lack of availability of necessary equipment as devastated public roads were repaired.
The circuit hit the headlines in 2010 when spectators were lucky to escape with relatively minor injuries when the Mini Challenge car of Kain Magro cartwheeled into the crowd at the final corner during a V8 support race. Circuit bosses insisted that the track was safe and that it had been a freak occurrence – a similar crash the next day proved the worth of the safety barriers.
Sadly, 2013 saw two tragedies unfold at the track; in June, young motorbike rider Chris Mosca was killed when he wash thrown from his bike after clipping another rider during a mid-week test session, then in October British Porsche Supercup star Sean Edwards was killed in a horrific accident while mentoring a young racer on a driver training day. They remain the only fatalities at the circuit to date.
Today, Queenland Raceway boasts a diverse series of events, including its own series of local club racing, alongside the yearly visit of the Shannons Nationals and the V8 Supercars. It also remains one of the most active of Australian circuits, with general testing, racing schools and promotional events happening most days of the week.
Queensland Raceway is approximately 50 kms west of Brisbane, on the outskirts of the city of Ipswich in south east Queensland, Australia. The nearest international airport is at Brisbane, less than an hour's drive away.
The circuit can be found beside the Cunningham Highway, approximately 22km from the Ipswich Motorway. If arriving by car from Brisbane Airport, the recommended route is south on the Gateway Arterial, then on to the Logan Motorway, Ipswich Motorway and Cunningham Highway. Although not the most direct, this route avoids all urban traffic and takes less than an hour.