13 October 2023

Wakefield Park rebranded and set to reopen as the first racetrack of its kind in Australia

| James Coleman
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arial view of race track

Wakefield Park Raceway is now known as ‘One Raceway’. Photos: One Raceway.

It’s finally happening – the region’s biggest racetrack is set to reopen in mid-2024, now with a new name and revamped layout.

Wakefield Park Raceway near Goulburn was shuttered indefinitely in September last year when a legal dispute between the previous owner, Benalla Auto Club, and the local council ended in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

The track had been limited to 48 days of use per year due to noise limits since it opened in 1993, but before the closure, it had been operating for more than 270 days annually.

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This came to a head when the Benalla Auto Club submitted a development application to the Goulburn Mulwaree Council in 2021. The council knocked the upgrades back so the club took them to court.

The court approved the upgrades with a few conditions. These included noise limits of no more than 95 decibels for four days per month or 48 days per year.

The club judged the restrictions made the track unviable, and the doors were closed and staff let go in September 2022.

Steve Shelley and his sone Jake next to a race car

The new owner of Wakefield Park, Steve Shelley and his son Jake Shelley, at Bathurst in 2013. Photo: Steve Shelly, Facebook.

Steve Shelley, the operator of the Pheasant Wood Circuit up the road in Marulan, then bought Wakefield in March this year, with initial plans for a reopening in some form by November.

In a media statement on 13 September, Mr Shelley said the dispute with the local council has been resolved and the track is greenlit to open in the middle of next year, under the new name of ‘One Raceway’.

“With the ongoing and open dialogue with the Goulburn Mulwaree Council, we’ve charted a roadmap to rejuvenate and upgrade the raceway,” Mr Shelley said.

“This roadmap harmonises community sensibilities with motorsport thrills, including a comprehensive calendar of operations that ensures abundant opportunities for racing, practice and training.”

Reconstructing the safety barrier. Photo: One Raceway.

Diggers and dumper trucks have spent the past three months constructing dirt walls up to 10 metres high along the north and south ends of the circuit to help shield nearby residents from noise.

“In determining our scheduling of track days and other events, we will consider environmental factors, including wind direction, and focus on how those conditions may affect our neighbours,” Mr Shelley added.

Turns 1 and 2 are being rebuilt due to “long-standing safety concerns” and drainage will be improved along the main straight, which is prone to flooding due to its lower elevation. The whole 2.2 kilometres will then be resurfaced.

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“When we first visited the track, it was immediately obvious that the circuit was in less-than-optimal condition,” Mr Shelley said.

“While patches and temporary repairs would have been the easy option, we’ve chosen a more forward-thinking approach.

“We are also undertaking extensive circuit drainage and water controls to counter water pooling and seepage, eliminating the patches of standing water that would often form on the circuit after heavy rain.”

Sound barriers up to 10 metres high have been constructed at the north and south ends of the circuit. Photo: One Raceway.

The upgrades have already received “genuine enthusiasm” from Motorsport Australia and Motorcycling Australia, including plans for the circuit to become a national first by allowing for racing in both directions (not at the same time).

“Changes to the profile of Turn 10 and some other alterations we are making to the pit entry and exit will enable the track to become uniquely capable of hosting races in both directions,” Mr Shelley explained.

“This unparalleled move will not only present racers with fresh challenges but promises to reinvent the spectator experience. We will even be able to host multi-day events where we run one direction one day and the opposite direction the next day.”

One Raceway is also planning upgrades to its off-track facilities and has reached out to the community for volunteers to help rebuild run-down areas.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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