A long history of tracks demolished/ruined, often for stupid reasons

Discussion in 'Motorsport' started by White & Nerdy, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. White & Nerdy

    White & Nerdy

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    I created this thread to draw attention to the disused and demolished racetracks of the world. Some fell by the wayside because of political turmoil, some were abandoned and sold in pursuit of profit. Regardless, post it here.

    1950s - Mellaha Lake (Libya) was killed by increasing political turmoil - an American military base had to go somewhere, and the track was the chosen place.

    1955 - Bremgarten (Switzerland) was abandoned following the Swiss motorsports ban, which, unfortunately, is still in force today.

    1960s - Westmead (South Africa) fell into disuse and was redeveloped as a business park.

    1960s or 70s - Funabashi (Japan) fell into disuse, may or may not still exist.

    1960s or 70s - Monza (Italy) was not demolished and in fact continues to hold F1 races to this day, but for safety reasons the track's infamous banked section was skipped, bringing the total length down quite a bit. It's still sitting there, never demolished and never repaired, and to the best of my knowledge there are no plans either way. Just think, though... NASCAR running on a revised and upgraded Monza oval. That would be quite a sight, for sure.

    1976 - Levin (New Zealand) closed down, may or may not still exist.

    1977 - Osterreichring (Austria) was given a chicane, turning the fastest turn on the course into the slowest.

    1978 - Keimola Motor Stadium (Finland) was abandoned and used as a tire dump. Now little more than a vacant lot.

    1982? - Hockenheim (Germany) given three chicanes to keep speeds down.

    1988 - Zwartkops (South Africa) partly torn up to make room for a highway, which of course was never built. The two sides of the track are now relinked, but the north section is shortened for no apparent reason.

    1989 - Sandown (Australia) was not demolished, but a twistier infield section was disused for some reason, resulting in a simplistic layout measuring just under two miles.

    1990 - Westwood (Canada) was demolished. Suburban sprawl claims another victim...

    1994 - Baypark (New Zealand) closed down, replaced by a housing estate.

    1995 - Osterreichring (again) got Tilked and became a shorter, tighter, slower track retaining some pavement and the basic outline of the original. It was renamed the A1-Ring and the story continues under that heading.

    1998 - Amaroo Park (Austriala) was demolished and turned into - you guessed it - a housing development. Yeah, it was a short and simple track, but a track it was - and correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Austrialia have, like, a ton of undeveloped land they could have used?

    2002 - Hockenheim (again) (Germany) had insufficient access for emergency vehicles and no way to provide more, so the circuit owners turned to Hermann Tilke for an A-grade ruination.

    2003 - Shah Alam (Malaysia), being, as it was, owned by a Sultan with no particular loyalty to motorsports, it was doomed as soon as Johor and Sepang began to siphon off races. On top of that, safety began to present an issue, so rather than put down the money for upgrades, the Sultan sold it to a private corporation, who predictably dynamited the track and built a housing estate.

    2004 - A1-Ring (again) was nearly ruined by environmentalists. Red Bull was going to do the motorsports world a great service by massively upgrading and extending the course, but environmental protestors stopped them in the middle of it (no idea what their objections are/were), leaving the track with no grandstands or pit buildings, but with a big trench across the front straight, dug in preperation for the construction of a new tunnel. Eventually, they completed most of the upgrades and reopened it, but the planned extension came to nothing. Maybe someday...

    2004 - Nasu (Japan) closed for reasons unexplained. In all fairness, it was a fairly small, useless track, but still... it's a racetrack, dude.

    2007 - Burke Lakefront Airport (USA) hosted its final race. The airport still exists and is operational, so the layout remains physically possible to use, but attempts to revive the Grand Prix of Cleveland have so far come to nothing.

    2010 - Oran Park (Australia) closed down and knocked down, taking a fair bit of history with it. When I heard about the demolition, I couldn't believe what they did, but there are indeed houses where there was once a racetrack. Apparently, the owners didn't have much loyalty to motorsports other than for the money it brought them, so when greater potential profits were detected at another facility, they didn't see any problem with selling 40-50 years of racing history to the government. Only one problem - government and cars never mix well. They definitely didn't this time.

    2011 or later - Portland International Raceway (USA), a fairly historic track, is now facing tough competition from a new facility a few hours away. There have already been talks of getting rid of it, and a more modern (which almost certainly means stupid and over-designed, though according to available maps the layout holds promise) circuit within a reasonable distance could end up providing the perfect excuse to sacrifice PIR to suburban sprawl. The track still exists and is (as far as I know) active, but if I were you I'd prepare to shed manly tears.

    Unknown - Pukekhoe Park (New Zealand) was not demolished, but a fairly significant chunk of pavement was disused instead of being integrated into the main circuit. Reasons cited are the bypassing of a sweeper, and proximity to a residential area limiting track width & runoff area. Isn't it amazing how often racetracks and residential areas conflict?

    Unknown - Wigram (Christchurch) (New Zealand) is or was located on a former military airfield. Racing ceased when the facility was sold to a private owner who apparently didn't care for racing. I don't know if the facility still exists.

    This is an incomplete list for time reasons. If there's one in Africa, Asia, Austrialia, or Austria I missed, let me know. If you have more detailed information as to why a track was abandoned/destroyed, let me know.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
  2. Prince.M5

    Prince.M5

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    I live around 500 meters down the track for your information. I don't know if it was owned by Sultan but it was bought by a company called 'Lebar Daun' and they immediately demolished the track and now there are houses on it. My friends live there, heck they didn't even know there were a race track before.

    However, the main reason why the track was demolished is because of safety, and the rise of Sepang International Circuit which is about 30km away from Shah Alam Circuit (or Batu Tiga Circuit)...

    It's still being used today anyway and since Red Bull bought the track, it now looks a whole lot better and it definitely has a future up ahead. Watched the coverage of DTM race at A1 Ring and the track looks good.
     
  3. astrosdude91

    astrosdude91

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    Yep. Not sure what you're on about with the environmentalists and nature parks. But the A-1 Ring is alive and well. Red Bull did buy the track, did renovations, and renamed it the Red Bull Ring. The whole track has been redone from the ground up, and it really looks great.

    Here's a video from the grand re-opening:


    Also. Brooklands, Riverside Raceway, and the old Hockenheim loop need to be added to the list.
     
  4. Spacegoat

    Spacegoat Premium

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    I was so sad when Oran Park was demolished, so much history at that track and now's it's a housing estate.:( :grumpy:
     
  5. prisonermonkeys

    prisonermonkeys Premium

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    Because no-one else has mentioned it yet: Hockenheim. It was shortened because the full six-kilometre length did not have adequate access for safety vehicles, and there was no room for building proper facilities (the circuit owners have no control over the land surrounding the circuit, which I suspect is some kind of national park). When the shortened version was built, nature was allowed to take its course, reclaiming most of the old loop because it was too expensive to maintain the two kilometres given the way it would not be used.
    It's too narrow for racing, and too close to residential/industrial areas with insufficient run-off. Besides, the shorter track is better; the extra loop removes the fast sweeper, which is probably best corner on the circuit.
     
  6. dhandeh

    dhandeh Premium

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    Monza banking deserves a mention as well.

    On this subject 'Grand Prix Battlegrounds' is a great book, detailing all circuits used in F1 since 1950. A lot of them changed or demolished, this book with the aid of google maps to see what's left presently is interesting reading/viewing.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1844256944?ie=UTF8&force-full-site=1
     
  7. Tired Tyres

    Tired Tyres

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    The A-1 Ring/Red Bull ring is worse than a housing estate. They dug up the magnificent Österreichring to make that! :yuck: :yuck: :yuck: :yuck: :yuck:

    I though they actually dug up the track at Hockenheim, not just left it to be overrun by nature?
     
  8. daan

    daan Moderator

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    What about Aintree, Crystal Palace, and Montjuic park?

    And then there's Reims, Rouen Les Essarts, Charade & Pescara.

    And, if you can afford it, this is a good book too.

    I could go on and no doubt more will be added later.

    And that's all just tracks that do not exist as tracks anymore. I've not even got into old tracks that have been emasculated for safety reasons.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
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  9. niky

    niky Moderator

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    There are no stupid reasons for old tracks to stop existing. Except maybe because there's going to be a highway that eventually never gets built.

    Racetracks are often regarded by gearheads as heritage sites. But then, just like old hotels, if there's no fancy period architecture and no grand historical reason for them to remain as they are, losing the owners of the land money each year they stay open, then they get torn down for something more useful.
     
  10. crooky369

    crooky369

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    AVUS. Although I think the track might have been in both east and west Germany in the Cold War.

    So not an entirety ridiculous to close it!
     
  11. GOTMAXPOWER

    GOTMAXPOWER

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    I never knew Oran Park had been torn up, real shame considering the history and it was a great fun layout on Toca Race driver (or DTM or V8 Supercars dependant on where you're from).
     
  12. TheCracker

    TheCracker Premium

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    Rufforth was a WWII airfield, became a race circuit (like many of the UK circuits) - then became an airfield once more.
     
  13. jjaisli

    jjaisli Premium

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    Great (but sad) thread White & Nerdy!

    You can add Bridgehampton Raceway to this list. At one time, in the 1950s and even early 1960s, it was considered by some as America's best road racing circuit.

    It wasn't convenient, being at the far Eastern end of Long Island, a 2+ hour drive from Manhattan. In those days, there was nothing but potato farms out there. And it was long before the super-rich began building their beach side mansions and a "weekend in the Hamptons" became a buzz phrase by Wall Street traders.

    Sadly, today, it's nearly all gone and what's left of this once great track, looking over the sand dunes, much like the Zandvoort Circuit, is nothing but a Golf Course.

    Then:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Now:
    [​IMG]

    Track Map:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
  14. zedextreme8177

    zedextreme8177

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    Hockenheimring :yuck:
     
  15. F1 fan

    F1 fan Premium

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    There were plans to redesign the track in an effort to make it a bit more like it's predecessor, "the Osterreichring", which was a great high speed circuit with great elevation changes.



    Not necessarily, I agree the older track was far better and an example that some things are best left alone. The A-1 Ring was a decent track. Not one of the classics, but it had it's good sides.



    They did.
     
  16. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Premium

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    That land is undeveloped for a reason. Apart from mining, which has only really boomed relatively recently, we've got nothing to gain from living out there.
     
  17. DQuaN

    DQuaN Premium

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    This.

    I loved the old forest section. I understand why it had to go but it's still a shame.

    Also the old bus stop at Spa, so many great overtakes in the past through there.
     
  18. Azure Flare

    Azure Flare (Banned)

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    You should also add Silverstone and to your list.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
  19. Alex.

    Alex. Premium

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    Managed to get that for Rf. Here's a virtual onboard for anyone wondering, the track is magnificent.
     
  20. Speedster502

    Speedster502 Premium

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    Do you mean Silverstone, not Siverstone? In which case, I'd argue against it being put on the list. I prefer the current configuration over all of the previous ones.

    The only real downside is that the 'Wing' is miles away from anything. But that doesn't stop it being a decent circuit.
     
  21. Lizard

    Lizard Premium

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    I agree the latest revamp ruined the track.
     
  22. Azure Flare

    Azure Flare (Banned)

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    ^Exactly.


    Siverstone is not a very well known circuit, it often gets confused as a incorrect spelling of Silverstone.
     
  23. Paulie Walnuts

    Paulie Walnuts

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    Keimola Motor Stadium in Finland, used to host Formula Two and Interserie races. Was abandoned in 1978.

    Glory days:



    In recent years:

    [​IMG]

    And in between (it became a tyre dump and there was a fire):

    [​IMG]
     
  24. Alex.

    Alex. Premium

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    Dude what the hell is with the gold and back text?
     
  25. daan

    daan Moderator

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    He likes to colour co-ordinate with his pony avatar...
     
  26. Jimlaad43

    Jimlaad43 Premium

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  27. Tired Tyres

    Tired Tyres

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    [​IMG]

    That's the last truly good Silverstone. R.I.P.
     
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  28. tribolik

    tribolik

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    Yeah it was a great layout.... for Nascar or something like that
     
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  29. Grand Prix

    Grand Prix Premium

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    Bremgarten, Switzerland

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You all know the story; After the 1955 Le Mans Disaster, the government of Switzerland banned circuit racing, and that was the end for Bremgarten. Although it probably would not have survived much longer anyways. It had no true straights, just a sequence of high speed corners. It was one of the fastest circuits in Europe. It also had a variety of different track surfaces, which when wet, combined with the nature of the circuit, was extremly dangerous. It claimed the life of Achille Varzi in 1948, a legendary driver from racing's Golden Age.


    Mellaha Lake, Libya

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Another track from racing's Golden Age, which hosted the Grand Prix of Tripoli. It was a victim of the unstable political climate in the 1940s and 50s. Even though it had facilities and grandstands that rivaled the best in Europe at the time, this high speed circuit was destroyed in the 1950s for an expanding American airbase. A popular track among the drivers of the 1930s.
     
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  30. RVDNuT374

    RVDNuT374

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    I never knew that this many tracks existed back home in NJ:

    http://www.njrn.com/njhistory.html

    Most of them now are either overgrown, shopping centers, or housing developments.