Lakeside International Raceway Was a Top Class Race Track, Lakeside Park Isn't
Lakeside Park, formerly known as Lakeside International Raceway, is an Australian race track located at Pine Rivers, 30 km north of Brisbane, Queensland. The 1.5-mile (2.41 km) circuit, which lies next to Lake Kurwongbah, is a spiritual home of Queensland motorsport and it has a glorious history as a top class racing venue, hosting major Australian racing series between 1961 and 2001 when it was closed. The circuit reopened in 2008, operated by the same company that owns Queensland Raceway, but without major competitions on it. Lakeside Park is currently in use as a club circuit and testing facility.
Opened in 1961, Lakeside became the home of Queensland’s motorsport
The circuit was built and opened in 1961, after few years of construction works by local volunteers and motoring enthusiasts. The layout of the track was simple, with only eight turns. The first event at the Lakeside International Raceway took place on Sunday, March 19, 1961, in front of 2,000 spectators. It was the race of the Queensland Touring Car Championship.
The race track quickly established itself as the home of motorsport in Queensland and one of the premier facilities in Australian motorsport. The prominent Tasman Series came to Lakeside for the first time in 1964, with Jack Brabham winning in his BT7A-Climax.
Formula One legends were regulars at Lakeside
It was a time when Formula One stars were regular entrants in the Tasman Series, so Queenslanders had an opportunity to watch legendary drivers such as Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill, Denny Hulme, Jim Clark, Phil Hill, Derek Bell, Jochen Rindt and others.
In 1965, Tasman Series skipped Lakeside but returned in February 1966. That race had a prestigious title of Australian Grand Prix. Graham Hill was the winner, driving the BRM P261, ahead of Frank Gardner and Jim Clark. A year later, the race lost the Grand Prix status, but it was a part of the Tasman Series. The winner was Jim Clark.
In 1968, Tasman Series skipped Lakeside again, returning in 1969 for the last time, again with Australian Grand Prix status. The winner was Chris Amon, driving the Ferrari 246T for Scuderia Veloce. Derek Bell and Leo Geoghegan completed the podium.
Australian Touring Car Championship came in 1964, stayed until 1998
While hosting international stars, Lakeside was also the venue of the Australian Drivers’ Championship between 1963 and 1971, but the main competition became the Australian Touring Car Championship, which came to Lakeside for the first time in 1964. The first ATCC winner was Ian Geoghegan with Ford Cortina. He repeated a victory in 1967 with Ford Mustang.
The track was closed in 1973 due to problems with floods, as the circuit lied near the Lake Kurwongbah. The 100 meters of the track was rebuilt at a higher level above the flood line. The new pit lane was also constructed in that period of time.
Regular ATCC venue and the place of great racing battles
After the re-opening of the track, it became one of the regular venues of the Australian Touring Car Championship from 1975 and it remained in the calendar until 1998. In that period, many legendary races took part at Lakeside International Raceway, especially when the race was the last round of the championship and it was a decisive race in the title fight.
Probably the most memorable race happened in 1981 when Queensland hero Dick Johnson battled with a reigning champion Peter Brock. Johnson won the race and took the title. It was Johnson’s first win at Lakeside, he was the winner one more time in 1989.
Legendary names on the winners list
Other multiple ATCC winners at the Lakeside International Raceway were Allan Moffat, Peter Brock, Colin Bond, George Fury, Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst. Parallel to ATCC, Lakeside was hosting the Australian Super Touring Championship eight times between 1993 and 2001, with Paul Morris winning five times in those eight races.
Over the past few years, many other national series visited Lakeside, such as Australian GT Championship, Australian Sportscar Championship, Australian Sports Sedan Championship, Formula 2 Championship or Australian Superbike Championship. In 1984, the track underwent some upgrades for the bike races, adding a so-called Bus Stop section on the outside part of the track, between Karrussell and Hungry Corner.
‘Friends of the Lakeside’ saved the historic circuit
Summer of 2001 saw the last race at the Lakeside. Many financial problems led to the circuit’s closure. At auction, the circuit was bought by the local Pine Rivers Shire Council. Soon after that, the local mayor announced that Lakeside will never host racing again.
Fortunately, he was wrong. Lakeside had a special place in the hearts of Queensland’s racing fans, so their persistent campaign prevented a demolition of the track. Thanks to the ‘Friends of the Lakeside’ group, the circuit was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, recognizing its historical importance to the local and racing community.
Lakeside Park circuit was reopened in 2008
In 2006, the Pine Rivers Shire Council announced a tender process for organizations to operate a facility. In December 2007, the contract was signed with the owner of Queensland Raceway John Tetley (Wrexmere Pty Ltd). They signed an agreement for a 30-year operating lease, with an option for another 10 years. The circuit was renamed to Lakeside Park and it became a part of Queensland Raceways brand.
Tetley invested around 1.2 million AUS$. He rebuilt the circuit’s infrastructure. The circuit reopened its doors in 2008, strictly as a club and historic racing venue and testing facility, with no ambitions to have national meetings because these events are taking place at Queensland Raceway.
Many improvements on the circuit
Over the 2008/2009 summer off-season, a part of Lakeside’s track was widened and resurfaced. During the refurbishment, a tunnel was also added underneath the circuit just before the foot bridge. New pit facilities were also added. Further upgrades followed in 2011 when the Armco barriers on the exit of Karrussell were removed and a sand trap was added. In 2014, a new Bus Stop chicane was added.
Today’s Lakeside Park is the venue of Queensland racing series and historic cars events, such as Lakeside Classic. In 2011, the Lakeside Tribute was held for the first time, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the track, and since then it runs annually.
Address: Lakeside Rd, Kurwongbah QLD 4503, Australia
Phone: +61 7 5461 9100
Official website: www.qldraceways.com.au