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Thursday, 04 August 2016 00:00

Lost tracks of NSW: Catalina Park Raceway

204CatalinaPark

Catalina Park, nestled in the heart of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, is unique amongst the lost tracks of New South Wales in that its 2.2km layout remains largely intact.

V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93 pays tribute to lost iconic circuits, now treasured memories in the suburban sprawl of New South Wales.

Issue #93 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.

CLICK HERE for more information on V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93.

Today, it's an eerie and evocative sight; a mix of rusty signs, decaying armco, collapsed sections and over- grown trees. But nature's attempts to reclaim Catalina Park can't hide the crazy challenge of this undulating track with sweeping bends, blind crests, overhanging trees and almost total lack of run-off – make a mistake here and you were booking a date with the track's famous wooden-sleeper fences, armco or a solid earth banks.

Catalina Park was fast; Frank Matich's lap record of 1969 in his Repco-powered Matich SR4 sports car was achieved at an average of 141km/h. It was dangerous, too, with three drivers losing their lives in accidents there.

And it had some of the coolest corner names ever in Australian motorsport, Craven A, Neptune and the Tunnel of Love, where the wooden-sleeper fences really closed in on the cars.

Catalina Park had a previous life as a tourist park and owed its name to a Catalina PBY-5 flying boat that had been installed in its lake.

When that venture failed the land was purchased by the local council and plans for a racetrack mooted.

Construction started in 1957 and the first race meeting ran in February 1961.

Catalina Park hosted all kinds of racing, from sports cars and open-wheelers to production-series and improved-production touring cars and attracted all the stars of the era. Matich, Bob Jane, Norm Beechey and Ian 'Pete' Geoghegan were just a few of the big names to race there.

Fred Gibson reflects: "I loved Catalina Park, loved it! All the guys that were anybody, they went there – Jane, Beechey, the Geoghegans (Leo and Ian), they all went to Catalina Park. It was a real driver's circuit.

"It was very picturesque and a very friendly place. It was in this natural hollow, there was a picnic area and a lake and in the pits you could look down at it all – the pits were up above the track in some spots. It got good crowds in those days and I think we had full grids every time we went there.

"From Craven A corner, which was up the top
under the trees, down to
 the Tunnel of Love and onto the pit straight was very quick. You had to be very committed and use all of the road and you had those big sleeper fences the whole way around. Any mistake and you were in trouble!"

CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93 to read the full feature.

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Event Date
Adelaide 500 1-4 March
2018 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix 22-25 March
Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint 6-8 April
WD-40 Phillip Island 500 20-22 April
Perth SuperSprint 4-6 May
Winton SuperSprint 18-20 May
CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown 15-17 June
Watpac Townsville 400 6-8 July
Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint 20-22 July
Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint 4 August
The Bend SuperSprint 24-26 August
Sandown 500 14-16 September
Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 4-7 October
Vodafone Gold Coast 600 19-21 October
ITM Auckland SuperSprint 2-4 November
Coates Hire Newcastle 500 23-25 November

 

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Pos

 Driver

 Points

 1

 Jamie Whincup

3042

 2

 Scott McLaughlin

3021

 3

 Fabian Coulthard

2812

 4

 Shane van Gisbergen

2769

 5

 Chaz Mostert

2748

 6

Mark Winterbottom 

2208

 7

 David Reynolds

2196

 8

 Cameron Waters

2173

 9

 Garth Tander

2169

 10

 Craig Lowndes

2160

 Full points table