Symmons Plains Raceway - Tasmanian premier racing facility
The Symmons Plains Raceway, located near Launceston, Tasmania, is the premier racing circuit at the Australian island of Tasmania and one of the oldest race tracks in Australia. The circuit was opened in 1960, becoming a venue of the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1969. Today, the circuit is one of the longest serving tracks in the V8 Supercars Championship, with Tasmania SuperSprint as the main racing event. Other Australian racing series also are coming to Symmons Plains Raceway, such as Dunlop Super2 Series, V8 Utes, Touring Car Masters or Formula 4.
The race track was built on a historic site
The first Tasmanian race track was constructed on the Symmons Plains Estate, the historical locality owned by Youl family. One of the family heirs, John Youl (born 1932), was a prominent race car driver. In 1959, he asked his father Boyce to give him a permission to use a part of the family land to build a race track.
The layout is the same since 1960
Next year, the racing circuit was completed and ready for action. The 1.498-mile (2.411 km) 7-turn circuit was rather unusual, with start/finish line located on a curve. The pit lane was also located in an unusual spot, in the center of the course. The main feature of the track was a long straight section before Turn 1, the Brambles Hairpin and also another long high-speed curved section before Turn 3.
The original layout of Symmons Plains Raceway stayed the same until today, only the pit lane and start/finish line were repositioned and turns were renumbered. A chicane was also added for motorcycle races, so the Bike Circuit had 8 turns.
First national championship came in 1966
During the first years after the opening, the race schedule was full of local and Tasmanian events. In the mid-1960s the circuit began its rise to the national prominence. In November 1966, the Australian Driver’s Championship came for the first time to Symmons Plains and Greg Cusack was the first national winner. He repeated the victory in 1967.
Australian Touring Car Championship since 1969
The Australian Touring Car Championship came to Symmons Plains for the first time in November 1969, staying there without interruptions until 1999. Norm Beechey was the first ATCC winner in Tasmania, driving the Holden HK Monaro in the last round of the 1969 championship.
The Tasmanian race was the season-closing race one more time in 1970 and then it became the season-opening race in 1971. It retained that status until 1981 when the race was rescheduled inside the ATCC calendar.
Peter Brock was a record holder with five wins
Allan Moffat was one of the winners and he scored three consecutive wins from 1971 to 1973 and then one more in 1977. The greatest Australian racing legend Peter Brock clinched his first win at Symmons Plains in 1974. After that, he won four more times (1978, 1980, 1982 and 1984) and became a record holder with most wins.
Other multiple winners until 1999 were Dick Johnson (4 wins), John Harvey, Robbie Francevic, Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes (two wins each), with many other Australian legends who tasted at least one victory at Symmons Plains, such as John Bowe, Alan Jones, Glenn Seton, Jim Richards, George Fury, Allan Grice or Colin Bond.
Changes on the track in 1994 and 2004
In 1994, significant changes and upgrades were made at Symmons Plains and new pit lane was built on the outer side of the track. The start/finish line was relocated to the position that is more conventional, in front of the new pits.
This circuit was in use for five years but then Tasmania lost its place in the 2000 V8 Supercars calendar. It was quite a shock for Tasmanian motorsport, so the Tasmanian State Government invested about $3 million for further improvements, including new surface, safety upgrades, permanent pit garages and a chicane for motorcycle racers after Turn 2.
V8 Supercars returned to Tasmania in 2004
The V8 Supercars Championship returned to Symmons Plains in November 2004, for the 12th round of the championship. Rick Kelly, Marcos Ambrose and David Besnard were the race winners but Russell Ingall was the round winner with most points collected.
In the next couple of years, Jamie Whincup was the most successful driver at Symmons Plains, with eleven individual race wins and five round victories (until 2016).
New owners of Symmons Plains since 2009
The ownership of the circuit was changed in 2009 when the Motorsports Tasmania consortium purchased Symmons Plans from the Youl family. Prior to finalizing that deal, the Motorsports Tasmania was an operating company at Symmons Plains since 2000, owning also the other Tasmanian racing circuit at Baskerville.
A new deal for V8 Supercars races was signed in 2014, guaranteeing championship races in Tasmania at least until 2019. Further investments and improvements were also a part of the deal. Motorsports Tasmania also has ambitions to extend the track layout so it purchased a land beyond the Turn 4 hairpin.
Variety of racing competitions at Symmons Plains
Australian Touring Car Championship and V8 Supercars Championship were the major competitions at Symmons Plains in the last fifty years but many other notable competitions visited the Tasmanian premier racing facility. Among single-seater competitions, Formula 5000, Formula Ford, Formula 2, Formula 3 and in recent time Formula 4. Touring cars were represented not only with V8 Supercars but also with V8 Utes. The main sports car competitions were Australian GT Championship and Australian Nations Cup Championship.
F5000 racer Alfredo Costanzo holds lap time record
The holder of the outright record lap time is Alfredo Costanzo, who lapped around Symmons Plains with Lola T430-Chevrolet F5000 car for 50.16 seconds. He set that record in 1980. In the next couple of decades, the closest was Tim Macrow with Formula 3 Dallara-Mercedes, with a lap time 50.3278.
The fastest among touring cars and V8 Supercars drivers was Rick Kelly in 2009, who set a lap time 51.4713 with Holden VE Commodore.
Video : James Courtney explains Symmons Plains
Address: Symmons Plains Raceway, 1487 Midland Hwy, Perth, Tasmania 7300, Australia
Phone: +61 3 6224 4134
Official website: www.motorsportsas.com.au