Drive for heritage

Senate candidate Ricky Muir visits Sandown Racecourse. 156226 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS


Rev-heads vote for raceway’s future…

Ricky Muir wants to Heritage List Sandown Racecourse to save it from development.
In his last pre-election appearance, the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Senate candidate said the Springvale site had a place in the country’s history.
“I am making this call today as the community cannot wait a day longer if this venue is to be saved from becoming a housing estate,” Mr Muir said.
“There have been varying reports, but it is pretty clear to me that the owners of this land have future plans that don’t involve motor racing.
“I believe that Sandown Raceway meets the criteria to be placed on the National Heritage List, and so it should be.”
He said the site dated back to the 19th century and the bitumen race circuit had been in use since 1962.
Sandown has hosted six Australian Grand Prix events, he said, with Formula One world champion Sir Jack Brabham among the winners.
“He may be gone but we can hold onto that part of history,” he said.
Sandown Raceway hosted the final round of the 1984 World Sportscar Championship – the first FIA-sanctioned international event ever held in Australia.
Mr Muir said the track first hosted the Sandown 500 V8 Supercars endurance race in 1964 and it was an iconic Melbourne, Victorian and Australian event.
“Peter Brock won nine Sandown 500s, including seven in a row from 1975,” he said.
“A lot of the people I stand to represent have a strong connection to Sandown Raceway.
“The first time I went there was only in recent times, when the Toyota car club held an event.
“The whole track was full from one end to the other.”
Mr Muir said Sandown also provided a venue for off-street racing to tackle hooning.
“We need to be offering the venue to say ‘this is the right place to go, you do not do it on the streets’,” he said.
“The guys from Easternats have reached out to me in recent times.
“I have worked closely with a track down in Gippsland, which is the Gippsland Motorplex, and spoke with the local police in relation to that.”
He said the officers reported that using the track for off-street racing curbed hoon behaviour.
Mr Muir said other city racing circuits around the country had closed over the past 20 years, including Surfers Paradise Raceway, the Amaroo Park and Oran Park in Sydney.
“It’s very, very rare to see these inner suburban tracks with multi-purpose use continuing,” he said.
“Nobody in the motorsport community wants to see a future prime minister stand here and launch ‘Sandown Raceway Town’ as we saw with Malcolm Turnbull at Oran Park last week.
“I don’t think we need to see any more of Australia’s historic tracks closing down and becoming estates into the future.”
Sandown owner Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) declined to comment on Mr Muir’s plan.
But on the persistent rumours of the track’s sale, chairman Mike Symons said the club announced more than two years ago that it would develop a Sandown masterplan.
He said it was still being developed and presented a number of options for Sandown’s future.
“However, I want to assure you that no decisions have been made by the club, and ultimately any decision on the future will be made by members,” he said.
“We will continue to engage with key stakeholders including our members, trainers, participants, local communities and State Government regarding our masterplan.”