Wakefield Park race track due to reopen mid-2024 – with a new name One Raceway

Wakefield Park race track due to reopen mid-2024 – with a new name One Raceway

A legal dispute between the owners of the Wakefield Park race track in regional NSW and the local council has been resolved, with the circuit’s new custodians claiming it will reopen next year. However it will wear a new name and feature a revamped layout.

The Wakefield Park Raceway in regional New South Wales is due to reopen next year, after the circuit’s new owners and the local council settled a legal dispute which resulted in the facility being closed indefinitely last year.

Wakefield Park – located near Goulburn, about 200km south-west of Sydney, and about 100km north-east of Canberra – has been closed since 1 September 2022 following a legal dispute between its previous owners (the Benalla Auto Club), the Goulburn Mulwaree Council and the New South Wales Land and Environment Court.

In June 2021, the Goulburn Mulwaree Council blocked the Benalla Auto Club’s request to upgrade Wakefield Park’s pit facilities, citing factors “largely based on noise and social impact issues”.

When Wakefield Park Raceway was opened in 1993, it was limited to 48 days of use per year due to noise limits – but prior to the closure, it had been operating for more than 270 days annually.

The Benalla Auto Club responded by taking the Goulburn Mulwaree Council to the New South Wales Land and Environment Court, attempting to seek approval for the upgrades.

Works to Wakefield Park – now One Raceway – are underway

In July 2022, one year after the upgrades were blocked, the Land and Environment Court approved the Benalla Auto Club's request on the condition that stringent noise restrictions be implemented, regardless of whether the planned upgrades went ahead.

The conditions included noise limits – such as no more than 95 decibels for four days per month – which restricted the operation of the circuit to four days per month, or 48 days per year.

While these restrictions were in line with the circuit’s original conditions of operation when it was opened in 1993, Wakefield Park had been operating for more than 270 days annually.

After the Benalla Auto Club claimed the restrictions made the circuit unviable, its doors were closed in September 2022, and have not yet reopened to the public.

In a media statement issued today, Wakefield Park’s new owner – Steve Shelley, who also operates the nearby Pheasant Wood circuit (formerly Marulan Driver Training Centre) – said the racetrack is now due to reopen in mid-2024.

Mr Shelley – who purchased Wakefield Park from the Benalla Auto Club in March 2023 – says the Goulburn Mulwaree Council has granted approval for the circuit to open once again, following the completion of ongoing works to reduce the noise produced by vehicles at the facility.

The track will also be renamed as “One Raceway”, signalling a new era for the circuit which first opened in 1993.

According to Mr Shelley, noise walls up to 10 metres high are being constructed at the north and south ends of the circuit, mitigating some of the sounds which led to complaints from neighbouring residents.

An eventual goal for the circuit is to reopen as a bi-directional race track – allowing racing to occur in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions, though not at the same time for obvious safety reasons.

This would make One Raceway the first circuit in Australia to feature the unique capability, providing it is approved by the governing bodies of motorsport.

“Changes to the profile of Turn 10 and some other alterations we are making to the pit entry and exit will enable the track to become uniquely capable of hosting races in both directions,” Mr Shelley said in a media statement. 

“This unparalleled move will not only present racers with fresh challenges but promises to reinvent the spectator experience. We will even be able to host multi-day events where we run one direction one day and the opposite direction the next day.”

Additional planned changes to One Raceway include a revamped Turns 1 and 2, as well as better water drainage – as the circuit would often flood across the main straight in heavy rain, due to its lower elevation compared to the rest of the facility.

“When we first visited the track, it was immediately obvious that the circuit was in less-than-optimal condition. While patches and temporary repairs would have been the easy option, we've chosen a more forward-thinking approach,” Mr Shelley said.

“Prioritising the safety of our participants and the longevity of the raceway, we have committed to a complete circuit resurfacing to provide a consistently reliable and safe racing surface.

“We are also undertaking extensive circuit drainage and water controls, to counter water pooling and seepage, eliminating the patches of standing water that would often form on the circuit after heavy rain.

“Additionally, we are undertaking critical safety enhancements, including refining the pit exit blend line, addressing long-standing safety concerns at Turns 1 and 2, the proximity and angle of the pit wall at the exit of Turn 10, and removing the risk-prone infield marshal bays.

“In determining our scheduling of track days and other events, we will consider environmental factors including wind direction, and focus on how those conditions may affect our neighbours.”

One Raceway is also planning upgrades to its off-track facilities, and has reached out to the community for volunteers to help rebuild run-down areas which need attention