In an email to racers and fans, Sydney Dragway has officially confirmed the NSW Government is pushing ahead with plans to relocate the speedway from Granville to Eastern Creek, taking over the area next to the dragway’s return road.
The plans have attracted a mixed response from racers, with some excited about the speedway’s integration as part of a package of upgrades to the dragway, while others have concerns about schedule clashes, dust and car parking.
The email from the Sydney Dragway board reads as follows:
We are writing to you today to provide an update on our ongoing discussions with the NSW Government in relation to the proposed construction of the new Sydney International Speedway.
In particular how the Dragway’s major concerns including dust, event clashes, car parking and traffic management have been addressed through these discussions. Noting that all discussions to date with NSW Government are subject to a formal planning approval process in the coming months.
Background and context
As many of our racers are aware, the relocation of the Speedway from Granville to Eastern Creek has been discussed by Government for the past two decades. The first review was undertaken in 2013 as part of the future masterplan for the Eastern Creek Motorsport Precinct. This review was commissioned by Western Sydney Parklands Trust (The Landlord of the precinct).
On 21 October 2019, the NSW Government made an announcement that it would compulsory acquire the Speedway at Granville as part of the Sydney Metro West project, and committed to building a new home for speedway racing in Western Sydney.
In mid-November 2019, a Western Sydney Motorsports Forum was organised by the Office of Sport to discuss the future needs as well as identify issues relating to the further development of motor sport in Western Sydney. This forum was attended by representatives from Sydney Dragway, Australian Racing Drivers Club, Eastern Creek Karts, Motorcycling NSW, Speedway Australia, Valvoline Raceway, Confederation of Australian Motorsports, Western Sydney Parklands Trust, NSW Office of Sport and Sydney Metro. The meeting outcomes identified the need for a masterplan of the Sydney Motorsport Precinct at Eastern Creek focusing on transportation, tenure, world class facilities and the need for a Motorsport ‘one voice’ to access grants, major sporting events, investment and implement unified branding for the area.
In early December 2019, our landlord Western Sydney Parklands Trust asked if Sydney Dragway would consider the placement of the Speedway as recommended in the 2013 review. Sydney Dragway outlined why it could not support the Speedway, identifying the key issues that we have expressed previously to racers, including dust, event clashes, car parking and traffic management and loss of revenue.
On the 18th December 2019, following a meeting with the acting Minister for Sport, the NSW Government outlined that the preferred site for the new Speedway was at Sydney Dragway, located within the main southern carpark (Zones 10 and 11). At that meeting, Sydney Dragway presented all the concerns as to why it could not support a Speedway, reconfirming the same reasons presented to WSPT.
The concerns around the Speedway have been reiterated during subsequent meetings, particularly around having no formal agreement with Sydney Dragway to continue with the Speedway project at Sydney Dragway. It was clear that of the sites examined for the Speedway, Sydney Dragway was the only option being further developed. The Light horse interchange location was subject to a planning application for a business park and the Sydney Motorsport Park options drastically affected the use our pit area. It was the Government’s position that only suitable location for the Speedway was Sydney Dragway, subject to the resolution of the issues and concerns raised.
Proposed Speedway location
As previously advised, the proposed construction of the Speedway at Sydney Dragway will take up the entire area currently used as the main spectator car park for Sydney Dragway. This area is on the right hand side of the spectator entry road and the proposed access to the Speedway will be via the roundabout near the Sydney Dragway spectator ticketing booth.
The Speedway will be bounded by the Sydney Dragway spectator entry road to the north, Ferrers Rd along the western and southern side, and to the east, by the earth mound that runs alongside the drag racing return road. This mound will not be removed nor will it be reduced in its height.
The Sydney Dragway boundary will be the remainder of our current leasehold area as set out in lease agreement with our landlord Western Sydney Parklands Trust.
The Speedway facility will contain a 460m circuit, a Speedway spectator car park and a pit area that can also provide additional parking for our major events.
Dust mitigation and management
As part of the project and as outlined in the proposed heads of agreement, the Speedway operators will be required to implement and maintain dust suppression additives, such as Dustex, to minimise the dust that may arise during Speedway events. Additional measures to reduce dust from settling on the braking area, or racing area, comprise of a proposed physical dust mitigation barrier that will be installed along the western and northern boundaries of the Speedway.
To ensure that the Speedway operators are controlling the level of dust during events, real time dust monitors will alert the operators in advance of when dust levels are about to exceed levels that are likely to lead to a suspension of the Speedway event. Whilst not all winds are likely to create a problem for Sydney Dragway, those travelling in an easterly or northerly direction may cause dust issues for the dragway. As a result, real time monitors will be placed on the Speedway property, as well as Sydney Dragway. These will be independently maintained at the cost of the Speedway operations.
If the Speedway operator has failed to maintain dust suppression measures, if the wind is blowing in the right direction and the dust travels over the dust mitigation barrier, it is the real time dust monitors that determine whether a Speedway event continues or stops. Failure to adhere to the condition would lead to a breach of its essential terms by the future operator.
Whilst most Speedway events are on Saturday evening, and commence at around 6PM, even if the dragway completes an event early or has no event scheduled, the condition of dust suppression is a necessary operational requirement for the Speedway operator.
New asphalt car parking
With the loss of our main car park, Sydney Dragway will be provided with a new spectator car park north of the spectator entry road, asphalt and line-marked; the convenience car park expanded with asphalt and line-marked and the top section of the hill partially removed to provide an addition asphalt and line-marked car park.
Major Dragway events and traffic management
As the Speedway calendar features main events from Boxing Day into early January, the southernmost car park will be made available for those Speedway events, whilst Sydney Dragway is closed or when it recommences its year with some smaller events.
The new car parks will provide ample parking for the majority of Sydney Dragway events however during a number of our major events held at Sydney Dragway additional car parking is often required to meet the demands of larger crowds. The Speedway car park and pit area will be available for up to 13 days a year to cater for Sydney Dragway’s multi-day major events.
As the majority of spectators will park closer to the pit area, Sydney Dragway will have a new ticket booth for its spectators located closer to these car parks. This will move the spectator entry closer to the pit area. Whilst the Speedway car park and pit area car park appear to be now placed further away, they are identical in distance walked by the majority of our spectators today.
Getting spectators in and out of the car parks can be a challenge today. As the Speedway will have a southern exit, traffic management can be optimised to reduce the exit times from the venue. The greatest conflicts are likely to occur if two events finish approximately at the same time. Sydney Dragway has reviewed the types of events that may run simultaneously, their likely spectator sizes of these events and is of the view that these are unlikely to cause congestion for either venue.
Major events that attract large crowds held by Sydney Dragway will not have a simultaneous event running at the Speedway. As Sydney Dragway has a broad drag racing schedule (Track Championships, Race4Real, Jamboree, Test & Tunes, etc.) this will remain consistent with the past few years. Additional events, consistent with the dragway’s continuing development and growth of the venue, can be accommodated, even with the operations of a Speedway adjacent to the dragway.
Next steps and feedback during the Environmental Impact Statement exhibition
The next steps for the project include the statutory public exhibition of the project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which is due to go on public exhibition in the coming months. EIS is a formal project planning assessment conducted through Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) and will show details of the project proposal, potential impacts and mitigation measures. Information will be made available on DPIE and Sydney Metro websites and through a variety of channels so anyone can make a submission on the EIS.
Racers will have an opportunity, through this process, to voice their concerns and ensure that their specific issues have been considered. Racers can make an individual submission as part of the EIS process outlining any concerns with the Speedway proposal.
So we encourage you all to have your say through the formal planning process as this is our opportunity to have an informed discussion through the official government process and make our opinions heard.
Dragstrip Track Works Update
As a final note, the Project Steering Committee that is managing the delivery of upgrades to Sydney Dragway is organising interviews with a short list of tenders to finalise the appointment of a tender to start works on the track. The announcement of the successful tender is likely to be announcement in the coming week.