The Cullen Bullen Raceway has been providing action for rev-heads across the region and beyond since 1991.
For the last 30 years it has housed a racing community of locals and those afar who compete once a month between September and May.
But during this time the track has deteriorated. Fortunately thanks to successful grant applications from Portland District Motorsports Club secretary treasurer Sue Healey, the track is undergoing a much-needed face lift.
"I have been applying for government grants for the past seven years and when a grant opens I apply that day. As they saying goes you've got to be in it to win it," she said.
Healey said the latest grant funding for the upgrades were awarded to the Cullen Bullen Recreation Reserve which she applied for on behalf of the reserve committee.
"The Cullen Bullen reserve are owners of the land our club leases so we can use it as a motor vehicle racing ground, which requires a licence every year from Office of Sport," she said.
"We have been very fortunate with grants from the state government, without these grants we would not have been able to do any of the upgrades to the speedway grounds."
The upgrades have been in full swing during the off season and will hopefully boost Cullen Bullen Raceway from a 1.5 star rating to a 3 or 3.5 star rating.
"We're now in 2021 and over the years the Armco wall and safety fences have deteriorated and become unsafe for some race divisions," she said.
Healey said the wall will now be concrete all around the ground to accommodate new racing divisions and last for many years to come.
"One of our contractors has done an awesome job with the earthworks they have removed the old Armco fencing, safety fences and light poles and once that was done, we redesigned the track circuit by extending it in turns three and four and slight banking in the corners," she said.
"We will also be upgrading the safety catch fence, we were hoping to have enough money to be able to upgrade the track lighting to new LED, but the funding can only go so far."
Healey said there had been some delays to the upgrades due to COVID-lockdown and wet weather.
"Doing the upgrades in Winter has led us to being behind schedule, we would've liked to be of been finished before our season starts on September 25 but with COVID restrictions in place again we are aiming for a December or January 2022 completion," she said.
Despite the delays, Healey said she was excited for the upgrades to be completed and attract more racers to the track from all over Australia.
"A lot of time and effort has gone into preparing and carrying out these upgrades. Our club members, competitors and race fans are just as excited as we are," she said.
"The Cullen Bullen Raceway needed these safety upgrades to be able to attract other racing divisions to the racetrack from all over Australia. The Raceway was built by the members of Portland District Motorsports Club from 1985 when the club first formed, to when the track opened in 1991."
"Very little funding was available back then, members had to "beg and steal" so to speak, to build the track from what was a swamp.
"A lot of hard sweat and tears went into building the raceway back then and majority of it was hard manual labour by the members."
How has COVID affected the speedway?
Healey said the 2021/22 season was set to hit the track on September 25, but due to COVID lockdown things were uncertain.
"COVID has basically stopped us from doing everything, we couldn't hold our clubs presentation which we had planned for back in July, we can't have any working bees to clean up and tidy up the grounds...
"We can't hold any race meetings at all by the sounds of it," she said.
Healey said if lockdown hadn't lifted by the time the upgrades were complete there was a chance the whole season's racing schedule may be cancelled.
"I think we will just cancel the whole schedule and hopefully start fresh in 2022/23 or if we can hold some sort of meeting, we may just do some practice meetings as we have a few 10-14 year old junior drivers to undertake their training," she said.
Despite the uncertainty around COVID lockdown and restrictions Healey hopes this season will be a successful, full calendar of a variety of racing divisions.
"...and some that have never raced at the track like NSW Speedcar Association which are planned for our February 26 meeting.
"We also have the RSA NSW Limited Sedans state title pencilled in for January 22 and RSA Fender Bender State title on November 27, plus all the other open wheel divisions that have supported us for many years, like Vintage Sprint cars and GP Midgets just to name a few."
On behalf of the Motorsport club Healey wanted to thank Neil Schembri and the team at BetterGrow for their support and sponsorship.
"The sponsorship we receive gets returned to the drivers as last year we picked a sedan division each month for five months which prize money was split between the top three place winners," she said.
"This year we will be doing a three round series, pending we can race, for some divisions and the prize money will be split again to the top three winners but must compete in all three rounds."
Sponsors to thank include:
- Burson Auto Parts
- Portland News Agency
- Bathurst Automotive Group
- Coates Hire
- Suez Environmental solutions
- Stones pets & weed control
- Amsley Towing
- Portland Automotive
- Wallerawang Landscape & Construction
- Lithgow Tyre Service
- Blackley Enterprises
- Construction companies
- TKS Concrete
- Wallerawang Landscape & Construction
- Lance Wilson from Hytc Concrete for all his help with this project
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