Oran Park and Zolder in iRacing..
Pair of 47-Year-Old Tracks Half A World Apart
To Be Available to Global Racing Audience
BEDFORD, MA (December 1, 2009) – When the checkered flag fell over a field of motorcycles at Australia’s Oran Park Raceway earlier this month it marked the final competitive motorcycle event in the 47-year history of this suburban Sydney motorsport facility. Following an all-comers car race at the end of January, 2010, Oran Park Raceway is slated to become a housing development.
But that won’t be the end of racing competition for Oran Park. In future years, while suburbanites sleep peacefully where Aussie V8s and Formula 5000 cars once thundered, racing enthusiasts from all around the world will be competing with one another in the virtual world on an exact digital duplicate of this historic venue, including its unique-for-Australia over-and-under figure-eight set of turns.
“Oran Park Raceway has played an important role in the history of Australian motorsport,” noted Divina Galica, director of partner relations for iRacing.com. “Too many great race tracks have been lost forever; I’m pleased that we’re able to preserve this digital version of Oran Park and make it available to racers all over the world.”
Galica also announced that iRacing and the management of Circuit Zolder have signed an agreement that will see the sometime host of the Belgian Grand Prix join Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Zandvoort as initial European venues in the iRacing service.
“Zolder is our second track on the continent of Europe, after Zandvoort,” Galica said. “In the fullness of time we’ll have quite a few more, but it’s exciting to have two such challenging driver’s circuits to begin with.” Galica said she expected that Circuit Zolder would join the iRacing inventory in the latter half of 2010.
Capturing Oran Park
Last month a surveying crew from iRacing.com made a series of millimeter-accurate scans of the 1.65-mile Oran Park facility, including all three of the track’s existing configurations and further documenting it with thousands of digital photographs. Over the course of the next several months, the data gathered by the iRacing surveyors will be transformed into a virtual version of the track that will join Phillip Island as the first two Australian iRacing circuits.
Oran Park opened its gates in 1963 and regularly hosted rounds of the Australian Touring Car Championship, V8 Supercar Championship Series, Australian Drivers' Championship and Australian Sports Sedan Championship.
The Australian Grand Prix (not then a Formula One race, it featured F5000 cars) was held at Oran Park in 1974 and 1977. In the 1970’s the circuit attracted large crowds for touring cars and sports sedans. The Rothmans 500 for touring cars was staged in 1977 and 1978, and touring car endurance races continued through the running of the 1989 Pepsi 300. The final running of the contemporary V8 Supercar series Oran Park event was held in 2008. Oran Park was also home over its long history to club road-racing events, so it’s fitting that the final competitive race meet held January 23-24, 2010 is an all-comers amateur race.
Like Oran Park, half a world away, Circuit Zolder opened in 1963. It hosted ten Belgian Grands Prix during the 1970s and 1980s. Mario Andretti drove a Lotus 79 to victory there on his way to the 1978 Formula One World Championship, but the death of Gilles Villeneuve in practice for the 1982 race signaled the beginning of the end of Formula One competition at the 10-turn, 2.492-mile circuit.
Following a series of safety-related upgrades in 2006, Zolder hosted a European round of the North American-based ChampCar series. The overall lap record was established by Sebastian Bourdais on his way to victory in that one-off event. Today Circuit Zolder is host to the FIA Formula 2, FIA WTCC Race of Belgium and the GT Belcar championship, including the 24 Hours of Zolder.