June 07, 2016
Horse 2121 - I Want To See The You Yangs 500
It came to my attention that either this year's or next year's Sandown 500 could be the last because the Melbourne Racing Club who owns the land, sees more value in turning the whole thing into yet more housing estates and apartment buildings, than it does from continuing to run horse racing on the site. The argument is that Flemington already provides a sufficient horse racing venue in Melbourne, and I bet that the NIMBYs who have moved into the area have complained about the noise caused by motor racing events twice a year. This is following the same pattern as what happened to both Amaroo Park and Oran Park in Sydney. Both of those places are now nothing more than housing developments.
I believe that I have a solution to the loss of yet another motor racing venue in Australia and the best thing is that the circuits don't even need to be built.
In December of 2013, the then Treasurer Joe Hockey, thundered from the floor of the parliament and dared the automotive manufacturers to leave it they didn't like the threatened withdrawal of subsidies. Within the week, GM, Ford and Toyota all announced that they were leaving.
The thing is though that both GM and Ford had developed cars in Australia and for Australian conditions. To do this, they both built proving grounds: Ford at You Yangs and GM at Lang Lang. This means that in Victoria, there is not one but two sets of what are basically automotive playgrounds which will be totally redundant within two years (or in the case of Ford, 33 days). Without the car makers developing cars for Australia any more, the need for these tarmac and dirt helter skeleters completely disappears.
I think that it would be ace if we could persuade either Ford or General Motors to open these facilities either to the public, in the way that the Nürburgring is, or to the various motor racing clubs; so that the places which once gave us our own Falcon, Monaro, Torana, Kingswood and Commodore, would once again sing to the sounds of an automotive symphony.
Best of all because these places are out in the middle of nowhere and quite possibly next to the towns of West Woop Woop and beyond the Black Stump, the NIMBYs who have successfully whinged and wowsed their way to killing off many motor racing venues in Australia, can stay in their little cafés sipping lattes and babycinos and it won't matter. These places are so far away that the sounds of 500 horses being unleashed by V8s and turbulent terror from turbocharged titans, are only going to bother Skippy and his friends.
As Australia drives down the avenue of stupidity, burning all of its manufacturing industries and redesigning the economy, the only really viable business options left are dirt farming and money farming. With the latter, that largely means burying ever bigger piles of cash into property. With Amaroo Park and Oran Park in Sydney, that meant destroying motor racing circuits and putting houses on them. Both Lang Lang and You Yangs are so far away from civilisation that nobody in their right mind would want to live there.
The only reason that Mount Panorama still exists as a motor racing venue is that this is the biggest thing on the city's calendar. The Bathurst Sheep And Cattle Drome and the livestock industries which underpin it, might very well be the things that keep the tills ticking over most of the time but the twice a year pilgrimage to the mountain is the new glittering prize in this former gold rush town. The gold rush of the 1850s is long gone but twice a year; when the 12 Hour and the 1000 comes to town, the stress again ring with the sounds of their former glory.
What this says to me is that a motor racing venue could be viable; even if there were only one or two events there a year. Evidently though, the Melbourne Racing Club which currently runs horse races at Sandown every weekend for most of the spring, summer and autumn can't spin their dollars fast enough to make it pay. Possibly if they opened the venue to Formula One or maybe the World Endurance Championship for sports cars, they might be able to buy again, that would merely start a new chorus of NIMBYs.
Neither Lang Lang or You Yangs suffer the problems of NIMBYs or potential unrealised profits due to development because nobody lives out there. I suspect that if either of them were turned into proper facilities, that the once of twice a year pilgrimage by motor sport fans would actually increase the value of the land rather than the opposite. They may even take on mythical status like Bathurst, Spa or Nürburgring.
I mean if General Motors and Ford Motor Co are both going to drop Australian manufacturing like a plate of cold sick, the least that they could do is give us back some source of joy.
Posted by Rollo at 10:57