Racing is a sport for thrill-seekers, and it will definitely satisfy any individual’s need for speed. Some are content to watch from the sidelines, but others prefer to get hands-on with some of the fastest and most powerful cars in Western Australia. Whether it is their need to go fast, execute satisfying drifts, or making sharp and challenging turns with precision, those who are passionate about extreme driving need somewhere to get their adrenaline fix. However, you cannot just satisfy a racing enthusiast’s needs on the open road.
Other than being illegal in WA, driving too fast or drifting on a public road can be dangerous. If only there were a place where you can learn, practice, and meet up with a community of motorsports fans like yourself – and if getting in the driver’s seat isn’t your style, there are plenty of exciting racing events to watch throughout the year.
Barbagallo Raceway in Perth, Western Australia, is the perfect destination for thrill-seekers. Formerly known as the Wanneroo Raceway, it’s just 50km north of Perth and hosts a huge range of exciting racing events. If you are looking for somewhere to express yourself through the art of driving or watch pro drivers in action, Barbagallo Raceway is the place to be.
This article will walk you through everything you need to know about the infamous racetrack: the design, layout, and features. You will also learn about the biggest events held at the venue and activities at the racetrack you can participate in yourself.
But first, let’s talk about the history of the Barbagallo Raceway and how it became the most well-known racetrack in Western Australia.
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History of Barbagallo Raceway (Wanneroo Raceway)
Formerly known as Wanneroo Park, Barbagallo Raceway has an extensive history as the iconic motorsports destination in WA. The original track was 2.411 km in length, with infield pits. Hosting its first-ever race meet in March of 1969, the local race associations held an annual event titled the “Six Hour Le Mans,” a 6-hour long Le Mans style race for cars, such as sedans and sports cars.
Over the years, the types of cars raced in Australia have evolved and motorsports has taken on a seriously professional slant. In fact, the Australian Grand Prix – the most iconic event in modern motorsports – took place at Wanneroo Raceway just a few years later in 1979. South Australian racer Johnnie Walker took the win driving a Lola T335 Formula 5000, becoming the last driver to snag the Australian Grand Prix driving a Formula 5000 vehicle.
This event paved the way for opening new pit stops and paddock areas located to the west of the circuit, and there have been numerous changes made to the course ever since, adapting to the changing needs of the racing scene.
Although Wanneroo Raceway has made many improvements to its circuit over the years, the most significant improvements to the raceway occurred in 1992. Turn 5 was connected to the back straight, creating a new short circuit of 1.7km using parts of the original 2.4km circuit. With the addition of the short circuit, the raceway has increased the variety of racing events that can be held at the venue, catering to new vehicle types and classes.
The new circuit’s construction was financed by the former race car driver and businessman Alf Barbagallo, and it was renamed Barbagallo Raceway in honour of him. In 2020, the name was changed back to ‘Wanneroo Raceway’, but to many locals passionate about motorsports, it will always be Barbagallo.
Wanneroo Raceway has always been owned and operated by the Western Australian Sporting Car Club, but the state government has been heavily involved in its operations and direction. Like many iconic Perth attractions, the raceway has had its fair share of ups and downs but has managed to overcome every setback and remain WA’s top destination for motorsports fans.
Barbagallo Raceway’s Infamous Track
What makes the Barbagallo Raceway circuit as infamous as it is?
Well, apart from being the only full-length championship racetrack in WA and the go-to racetrack for high-profile events, Barbagallo Raceway is what racers would describe as ‘challenging’. It is a difficult racetrack that’s known to test professional racers’ skills as well as their limitations, and there have been a few notorious accidents at national racing events.
Being one of the most challenging race tracks in Australia, the raceway has high-speed straights, blind rises, and tricky corners. If you are a racer of any kind, hitting this circuit will provide you with the adrenaline rush you’re looking for!
The raceway has made many improvements to the circuit to improve safety standards, as well as adding new facilities and increasing crowd capacity to host more spectators. None of these changes, however, have compromised its power to thrill. Wanneroo Raceway will always give any driver, professional or amateur, the action-packed experience they seek.
The best word to describe Barbagallo Raceway? Thrilling! Racers from all over Western Australia and the world say that they will never forget the racetrack’s notorious fast straights and seven technical turns.
The short circuit at Wanneroo Raceway is just as challenging as the full-sized circuit. It has six turns, while the track design adds more straights and sweeping turns making it extremely satisfying to drive.
In the first ten years of the Wanneroo Raceway’s existence, there were only a couple of minor alterations, including extra pits. The first significant addition happened in 1992, with the addition of the short circuit.
Here’s an overview of the changes made to Barbagallo Raceway over the years:
Wanneroo Raceway Major Improvement Timeline
- 1969: The first Race meet took place at Wanneroo Park.
- 1979: New pits and paddock area added to the west of the circuit.
- 1992: The addition of the short circuit creating the new 1.7km track.
- 2004: The short circuit was resurfaced for smoother racing and record-breaking results.
- 2012: The track was widened, and upgrades were made to the centre of the circuit with new pit facilities and a connecting bridge. The upgrades also include improvements to safety barriers, lighting, facilities and buildings.
- 2016: Motorcycle racing was banned at the Wanneroo Raceway. Safety upgrades were added to the circuit to allow for safer conditions.
- 2019: The track was officially licenced, allowing motorbike racing to return.
Barbagallo Raceway Events: 2021 Roundup
If you’re keen to watch some thrilling action on the track, meet up with other drivers at Perth track meets or even challenge other racers, there are plenty of significant events at Wanneroo Raceway this year.
- PIRTEK Perth SuperNight, part of the V8 Supercars Championship, is held annually at Wanneroo Raceway. It is a three-day event held in Western Australia and is one of the most significant events at Wanneroo Raceway, drawing over 50,000 attendees. Due to Covid-19, the event was cancelled in 2020 but is scheduled to return in 2021.
- Motorcycle racing and training events, such as the Round 2 AGV, HELMETS AUSTRALIA WA State Road Racing Championships for Superbikes, Supersport, Sidecars, Juniors, Production, Clubman, Naked Bikes, and B-Grade riders.
Additional racing events throughout the year include Roll Racing and Tarmac Sportz Series race days, offering participants the chance to tackle Wanneroo Raceway in an off-street street-style racing environment. Of course, we can’t forget WASCC’s bimonthly race meets for all classes and racing styles.
Barbagallo Raceway Activities and Track Days
The Barbagallo Raceway is known for its signature events, with various motorsport experiences held through providers like Adrenaline and RedBalloon and direct through local businesses. V8 Supercars, Drift School and the race meets hosted by the Western Australian Sporting Car Club.
Barbagallo Raceway continues to thrive as it hosts regular gatherings and events among different racing schools and communities. Some of the events include:
- Driftwest Practice Night: enjoy some drifting action on the vast main track of Wanneroo Raceway, opened to trainees and seasoned drivers alike.
- Drift School WA Drifting Experiences: catering to beginners learning the ropes or experienced drift drivers needing one-on-one coaching, there’s something for everyone at Drift School WA.
- WASCC Member’s Tuning Day: A great way to warm up for future race meets and get some practice in. For more information, head to the Wanneroo Raceway website.
- NISHI-D Drifting Track Meet: A one-day drift event devoted to the drifting community, culture and fun! Host by Drift School WA.
- MCRC WA Race Day: This is a monthly racing event on two wheels, held by the Motor Cycle Racing Club WA.
- SUPERKARTCLUBWA Race Meet: Super Kart Club members gather to race their way through the Wanneroo circuit. A great event for Kart enthusiasts!
WA’s Best Motorsport Experiences at Barbagallo Raceway
If you are interested in becoming a part of the racing community, there are many ways for you to experience the Barbagallo Raceway for yourself. Whatever style of driving you’re keen on, you can get your fix right here in Perth.
If you’ve always wanted to learn the art of drifting, you can get personalised tutoring from the experts at Drift School WA. Besides learning all the basics of drifting, you’ll connect with Perth’s drifting community, with plenty of ongoing opportunities to hone your skills. Drift School WA offers a range of course options that will enable you to experience drifting first-hand or ride alongside pro drifters for some heart-stopping hot laps.To find a package that hat suits you, check out the Drift School WA website.
Another popular experience at Wanneroo Raceway is the Fastrack V8 experiences. You can choose to drive one of their V8 supercars or sign up to ride in one with a professional driver behind the wheel. The prices of these packages will vary depending on the type of experience and the duration you choose.
How long does it take to get to Barbagallo Raceway from Perth?
Barbagallo Raceway is just 40 minutes north of Perth, and there are two ways to reach it. You can head north on the Mitchell Freeway and turn right onto Burns Beach Road. Follow the road until you see the “Raceway” sign on Joondalup Drive.
The alternative route is to head north along Wanneroo Road until you reach Joondalup Drive and continue driving about 5kms until you reach the “Raceway” sign.
Has Barbagallo Raceway been renamed?
Yes, Barbagallo Raceway was originally named Wanneroo Park in 1969. It was renamed Barbagallo Raceway in 1992, in honour of Alf Barbagallo. The track was renamed yet again in 2020, and it is now known as Wanneroo Raceway. However, because many people still know it as Barbagallo Raceway, it remains the racetrack’s unofficial nickname.