Circuit type: Temporary street course
The Homebush circuit around the avenues of the Olympic Park in Sydney enjoyed an eight-year period of operation as the finale for the Supercars Australia championship, quickly earning a reputation as a gruelling test of man and machinery.
Plans for the race were first mooted as far back as 2003, but after stalling for a number of years, final confirmation came in September 2008, with V8 Supercars promising to create a 'grand finale' event to close the season. The New South Wales Government spent AUS $30 million to bring the event to Sydney – a move which was divisive among politicians, with opponents branding it a waste of money.
The event also met strong opposition from campaigners, who feared it would cause social, environmental and economic disruption and suggested a better location would be the Government-owned Sydney Motorsport Park. Tony McCormick, who led the team that designed Sydney Olympic Park to a clean, green, sustainable brief, described the plans for the track as a 'travesty', adding: "The site was supposed to be a legacy for generations and we can't even make it last a decade."
Despite the opposition, the plans went ahead, with a launch event in May 2009 ahead of the race in December. Six V8 Supercars drove across the Harbour Bridge to drum up support for the race, with confirmation that the event ending concert would feature Aussie rock act, Cold Chisel.
Multiple V8 Supercar champion Mark Skaife drew up plans for the circuit, which centred around Olympic Boulevard and featured the ANZ Stadium, Allphones Arena and Spotless Stadium among its backdrops. Unusually, the circuit had an indoor paddock, using the exhibition halls of Sydney Showground which were immediately behind the pits.
Skaife concentrated on creating a track with a diverse mix of characteristics with a variety of bumps, camber changes and fast and slow corners making it difficult to complete the perfect lap. From the widest straight in Australian motorsport (along Australia Avenue) the cars funneled towards one of the narrowest, via a chicane which was all too easy to get wrong. Elsewhere on the lap, a series of undulations along Dawn Fraser Avenue lead to a tricky braking proposition at Turn 9 – it was actually better to brake slightly early to avoid locking up and going wide into the barriers.
On the evidence of the frenetic races it hosted, it would seem Skaife's brief was more than met. Most events saw numerous incidents and interruptions as drivers struggled to tame the track. None was more memorable than the mid-race downpour which took out half the field during the 2010 race, decisively handing the championship to James Courtney.
The circuit also produced more than its fair share of oddness – witness the collision between Shane van Gisbergen and the medical car during the 2012 event – and several less-fancies runners taking the top spot, with victories for Jonathan Webb and Lee Holdsworth in the rain-affected 2010 event.
In September 2013, a new three-year deal was agreed between V8 Supercars and the NSW Government, but with the costs of creating the circuit each year, plus declining visitor numbers year-on-year, the contract was not renewed further. The Olympic Park's tenure as a racing circuit thus came to an end when new champion Shane van Gisbergen took the final chequered flag in December 2016.
The Homebush street circuit was based at Sydney's Olmypic Park in New South Wales, Australia. Sydney Airport is a half hour drive to the south-west.
While the race itself is now more, the Olympic Park is very much still a visitor destination, with numerous stadia, hotels and businesses in the district. Transport infrastructure is very good, with the train being among the best ways to arrive as the Olympic Park station is ideally located next a portion of the old circuit (which actually wound right round it). Trains run weekdays and at weekends, with journey times around 29 minutes to Central Station or 26 minutes to Parramatta. Numerous bus routes also take in the Olympic Park, while there is also a shuttle bus connection to the Sydney Ferry, which operates along the Parramatta River to the Sydney CBD and Parramatta. For bus and train timetable information, visit www.131500.com.au .
For those who wish to drive, there is parking across the Olympic Park, though some are out of bounds due to the presence of the track. Head out along the A4/M4 motorway from the centre of the city towards Parramatta, exiting at the A3/Homebush Bay Drive intersection. The Olympic Park is accessed from the left along Australia Avenue.