Last weekend I had the pleasure of squeezing in a track day at Wakefield Park, south of Sydney – and getting home with 5 minutes to spare before the Grand Prix started!
Wakefield Park is near Goulburn about 2.5 hours south of Sydney and is an easy drive to get there. This was my first visit to the track for 11 years and as the venue opened around 7:30am, I decided to head down to Goulburn the night before, get a good feed and sleep and be ready for a day of pleasure! I stayed at the Best Western Centretown which has changed quite a bit since my last stay and was very quiet and the restaurant served up a stunning meal too.
The track day was organised by Track Day Club who manage a number of events throughout the year across several venues and importantly, have rally and race champions who can help all drivers improve their skills in handling a car at speed as well as teaching everyone the best lines, braking points etc for the circuit. I was very impressed with the overall level of management and preparation that they did to make the day enjoyable and successful. My one piece of advice for anyone attending is to get your paperwork done as early as possible – you will need to register with Track Day Club, sign waivers that you are aware of the risks and you will need a valid 12 month track licence from Wakefield Park itself. These can be done on the day, but when you are itching to get going, it can seem quite a long wait!
This particular day had 4 groups and mine was organised by a friend who got us to register early and we were all together in our sessions. We were classed as “exotics” – we had a range of Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Lotus and BMWs. The other three groups were made up of:
- General: with a wide mix of cars including Commodores, Falcons, Corvettes, Mercedes, VW and even a couple of utes!
- Race cars such as older Group A, V8 Supercar and full on track built cars.
- A group from Stax Motorsports in Sydney who had a great range of vehicles ranging from Nissan Skylines, Mitsubishi, Honda and new Ford RS Focus.
The day started with a driver walk to talk through each corner, the line, where the apex is. Then we had a comprehensive driver briefing and introduced to the instructors who were available. The sessions were a mix of timed and passenger runs and there were plenty of them during the day with each group having maybe 10-12 cars on track each – that is actually a good number for a circuit of this size.
As this was the first time at Wakefield Park in my current car, the first session was getting myself acquainted with the circuit and remembering the lines, which thankfully I did! It also allowed me to feel how the car was moving and as such I needed to adjust my braking and turn in points from my previous lighter sports car. I was middle of the pack in my sessions, some of the Ferraris and Porsches were very quick, however I learned a lot about how my car handles, especially on the old tyres that won’t wear out!
I would recommend a track day to anyone with any level of driving ability – a novice will learn in a safe environment and an experienced driver can still get good tips from the instructors and improve their awareness of their car. I’m looking forward to doing more this year!