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20 July 2022
By Abby Walter
Motorsport enthusiasts are working towards creating a space where recreational and competitive drivers can enjoy the sport they love, in Horsham.
Their dream is an asphalt 1.8-kilometre circuit with a skid pan to cater for drifters, Supermoto, off-street drag racing, sprints, off-street burnouts, circuit racing for a variety of cars and motorbikes, and defensive driver courses.
Horsham Motorsport Raceway’s Patrick Willmore said the group was hoping to acquire land to construct the racetrack.
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“It would be similar to a go-kart track, but with wider corners and a 300-metre straight,” he said.
“We would need about 50 acres for the circuit and Horsham is the ideal location, being halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide.
“There is high demand for a safe circuit for a motor raceway in western Victoria and we have a lot of interest from people in Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and Ballarat.”
Mr Willmore said the closest tracks for drivers and motorbike riders were in Melbourne or The Bend Motorsport Park at Tailem Bend, South Australia.
“We would be able to have something at a racetrack in Horsham every weekend,” he said.
“It’s also a good chance to get tourism to the area, especially when motorsport events typically run for more than one day – the local businesses would benefit, too. The track would be available to hire for a variety of motorsport clubs to use and wouldn’t be limited to one sport.”
Mr Willmore said the group’s main goal was to have a safe raceway for people to practise and race in their chosen sport, without having to leave the region.
“It’s a hard sport to get into when the closest place is three hours away to ride or practise,” he said.
Horsham-born former grand prix motorcycle road racer Kevin Magee has backed the vision.
He said it would be an ‘unbelievable’ infrastructure addition for the Horsham community.
“We always said Horsham was a good geographical area between Adelaide and Melbourne, and distance from the north as well,” he said.
“There’s a lot of motorsport interest in the radius of Horsham, so it’s ideal – and we have lots of space.”
Mr Magee raced in 36 grand prix during his career and won the 1988 Spanish Grand Prix.
He was involved in the inception of Horsham motocross track at Dooen.
“We used to have motorcycle club meetings in the drawing room at Horsham Technical School and that track started as a 99-year lease,” he said.
“There was a fair amount of competitive bike riders around.
“Sometimes there would be a dozen of us who would go road racing any given weekend. We used to just finish work, pack up Friday night and get to a track, race Saturday and Sunday and drive home Sunday night.
“In the early days, on Monday morning I’d have to put the lights and blinkers back on the 250 because that was the only vehicle I had. If I didn’t, I was riding the pushbike.”
Mr Magee said it was important to have a place to practise a sport and compete, no matter where people lived.
“You have to have somewhere to apply your trade,” he said.
“Plus, a track would create a whole role of employment if you had it open 350 days a year.”
Horsham motocross rider Josh McLean won a pro-lite category in the American Motocross Association, AMA, Supermoto at Primm, Nevada, earlier this year.
He plans to return to the United States for the next stage of the championship series in August, but cannot practise anywhere close to home.
“I’m leading the championship in the 250 class and I’m top 10 in 450 class,” he said.
“But it is stressful because when I come home, I know that everyone else is over there training during the week on tracks for just $40 a day – riding all day.
“Here, I’m a minimum two-hour drive, one way, to get onto a track and it only allows a few hours to train. I can do from 2pm until dark, which is only three hours, so I am putting a lot of effort in,” Mr McLean said.
“The racing over there is very competitive and they’ve just got that ability to practise all the time.
“It’s like playing football here and just being able to go kick the ball whenever you want, wherever you want – it’s simple.”
Mr McLean said when he first started racing, he was racing at Hopetoun, but he needed variety because he started racing nationally and internationally.
“It came to a point where I had to ride four days a week to keep up skills and I had nowhere to ride,” he said.
“I found myself driving to Adelaide, Warrnambool and Traralgon to race and ride. Now it’s at the point where there is a demand for race facilities for motorsport in the Wimmera, so that’s what we want to see.”
Mr McLean owns and runs a Horsham motorcycle and small engine servicing store and said he knows more than 20 people who would purchase gear to ride Supermoto.
“They would do that on the basis they had a track to use and ride regularly, but at the moment they won’t because they can’t,” Mr McLean said.
Wimmera Drift Association president Tim Rasmussen said members were keen to work with other drivers and riders to make this vision a reality.
“We want a safe place for people to drive. It will also benefit the businesses and people of Horsham by having a circuit nearby,” he said.
“There would also be people in and around Horsham who are interested in motorsport, but aren’t involved yet because they can’t see anywhere they can practise and race.
“People would come from all over if we had a raceway and between the groups, it would be used pretty much all the time.”
Mr Willmore said people interested in working towards a raceway or interested in talking about opportunities for a location could email email@example.com.
The entire July 20, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!