World class drag strip in Dubbo could be 12 months away

EXCITED: Michael Cleary, Brett Stevens, Dan Smith, Mick Lewis, Jim Fife, Wayne Gilbert and Jim Fife at the drag strip site. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
EXCITED: Michael Cleary, Brett Stevens, Dan Smith, Mick Lewis, Jim Fife, Wayne Gilbert and Jim Fife at the drag strip site. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The Dubbo City Car Club has called on the state and federal governments to invest in a facility that would be a world-first.

The Dubbo Drag Strip has received development approval from the Dubbo Regional Council, but needs an investment of between $4 million and $5 million to get the initial stage of the project built.

Once completed it would be the only world-class drag strip in regional NSW, and the first zero-emissions facility in the world.

Project manager Michael Cleary said the not-for-profit community facility would give local drag racers a place to practice and compete, and could eventually draw thousands of people to Dubbo.

“The number one reason is to get the young guys off the street and into a controlled environment to race,” Cleary said.

“The nearest track that we have that is a world-class, safe facility is Sydney … that makes it very expensive.”

Between 30 and 50 cars and motorbikes regularly compete at the airstrip at Bodangora, near Wellington, but the strip is not suitable for all vehicles.

Those racers are forced to travel to Sydney.

Up the Newell Highway in Gunnedah, between 70 and 80 people attend Tamworth Drag Racing Association meets, and Cleary said many of them would gladly come to Dubbo.

“We foresee probably about 150 cars once a month here at the strip,” he said.

“It’s going to create a great boon for the Dubbo community because those guys have to stay somewhere, they have fuel somewhere, they have to eat somewhere.

“The amount of money it could inject into the community is phenomenal and also we will eventually be on the ANDRA (Australian National Drag Racing Association) Summit Drag Racing Circuit, so that essentially means that we’ll have guys from all over Australia and around the world coming to race here eventually.”

ANDRA general manager Brett Stevens said “more regional facilities is good business for us”.

“NSW is our biggest member base, so providing them another facility is fantastic,” he said.

“What we see where any new facility is built is an initial spike [in participants] … and then over time we see it gradually continue to climb.

“Around a venue you see a core membership and then you see a slow growth and it’s not just about the growth …  we’ll see people travel to Dubbo from Mildura or from Adelaide or from Sydney or from Melbourne to come and race here.

“Adding another high quality facility into that can only be a good thing.”

Stevens also welcomed the push to make Dubbo’s the world’s first zero-emissions drag strip, through the use of solar panels and potentially wind energy.

Drag racing’s emissions weren’t as high as other motor sports, he said, but “there’s a perception, and anything that we can do to alleviate that perception is great”.

Once funding is secured, the facility would be completed in about 12 months and could employ more than 100 people in the construction phase.

Down track the committee would also like to expand the facility to offer driver training for individuals, and organisations such as the Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service and NSW Police.

Cleary said the committee was eager to work with the local community in developing the facility.