Eastern Creek, Sydney. Self-proclaimed (but no doubt hotly challenged by places like Bathurst and Phillip Island) “Motorsport Capital of Australia.” Home of several world-class racing circuits used by everything from V8 Supercars and Superbikes to truck, kart and drag racing. Oh, and you guessed it… bicycles. I’ve been fortunate to race on these circuits regularly in recent years with events organised by Waratahs CC, Marconi CC and Cycling NSW. I’ve also been fortunate enough to take my motorbike around the Raceway for two dozen or so 200km/h hot laps. So I know it pretty well.
So, here is my hack racer’s guide to racing at Eastern Creek.
Let’s start with five things to know about the Dragway circuit…
(1) Be ready for the smell. There’s a garbage tip just across the road from the car park. It can be quite offensive some days. Just depends which way the wind is blowing. Launch your attack while the rest of the bunch is gagging for air.
(2) The Dragway straight is like an ice rink when it’s even just a tiny bit wet. So take it easy. Or take out extra medical insurance.
(3) There are a lot of punctures, especially after the drags have raced there. The fine metal shavings from their tyres (not to mention rogue bolts and screws) often find their way into unsuspecting 23mm bike tyres.
(4) Don’t leave it too late. It’s possible to sneak away just before the final sprint. I surprised myself by winning a Waratahs prime last year against stronger riders by going just before the final (hairpin) turn. They didn’t have time to catch me.
(5) Know the way. Waratahs CC and Marconi CC race anti-clockwise while Cycling NSW events tend to race clockwise.
Now for the Raceway, or as it’s known these days: Sydney Motorsport Park.
(1) The home straight is longer than you think. I’ve seen so many riders go too early with their final sprint (yes, myself included), and also plenty who give up too soon. Actually, while I think of it, the whole circuit is longer than you think. 3.9km. I once offered to lead someone out at the start of the final lap … and compacted with 1.5km still to go!
(2) It’s hillier than you think. Yes, the home straight is long, fast and downhill, but there are two long, steady rises and one genuine hill at the back of the circuit that tend to take the sting out the sprinters’ legs. Use these wisely.
(3) It’s probably the best Tarmac most of us will ever race on. Smooth (these days). Even. Wide. Perfectly cambered. Enjoy it.
(4) Feel the buzz. As you climb out of turn two and take the bend to the right, listen closely. Barring blackouts, the electricity towers will be buzzing away. It’s kinda creepy, but as Darryl Kerrigan pointed out in The Castle: “powerlines are a reminder of man’s ability to generate electricity.”
(5) Stay away if you’re afraid of crowds. Waratahs field are usually big, with 40+ riders in the top grades. Throw in 6 grades racing simultaneously and log-jams are pretty common, often on sprint laps which can be kinda chaotic. Really pays to race towards the front, even more than usual. Can mean the difference between a top 5 finish and, well, zippo.
This video was shot at Waratahs CC by LACC’s Chris N … a great ‘rider’s view’ look at the Raceway circuit.