Motorcycle Grand Prix

Phillip Island Circuit

In 1951, a meeting of six local businessmen decided to re-establish motor racing at Phillip Island.

From the late 1920's until 1935 the island boasted its own circuit (rather crude on today's standards) on an airfield 2km from the current circuit, and by 1951, the businessmen believed it was time to relaunch racing on the island.

A steering committee formed and the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club (PIARC) developed with a dream “to build Australia's first international grand prix circuit”. The current site was purchased in that year. PIARC calls for 7000 subscriptions at 10 pounds each to assist in the development of the circuit and building work begins. An Alfa was used to measure the three-mile distance required for international certification as an International Circuit.

Between 1952 and 1956 the building of the circuit had met with major engineering hurdles, and PIARC had to call for more money from its shareholders. The Grand Opening Meeting was held with much acclaim in December 1956.

Phillip Island stages numerous trophy races including the Australian Motorsport Magazine Trophy Race 1957; the Formula Libre race of l958 and the Phillip Island Trophy race of l958.

The Light Car Club of Australia developed and staged the inaugural Armstrong 500 – a 500mile event which was Australia's first long distance race and a precursor to today's Bathurst enduro. The race was won by Frank Coad and John Roxburgh driving a Vauxhall Cresta. They completed the race in eight hours 15 minutes. It was a David & Goliath achievement, because the unknown Vauxhall pilots beat the highly fancied pairing of Bob Jane and Harry Firth in a Mercedes.

Jack Brabham wins the Moomba Trophy driving a Cooper Climax T51.

Due to extensive track damage resulting from the 1962 Armstrong 500, PIARC is unable to repair the damages and the track is closed. Subsequently Phillip Island loses the long distance event, which is transferred to Bathurst.

Melbourne businessman, muffler manufacturer and racing driver, Len Lukey purchases the Phillip Island circuit with a view to redevelopment.

The circuit reopens for racing in April 1966 in the heyday of sportscar racing.

Phillip Island hosts numerous rounds of the touring car championship. In the '60's, names like Pete Geoghegan, Bob Jane and Norm Beechey starred; while in the '70s drivers like Peter Brock, Allan Moffat, Dick Johnson, John Harvey and Colin Bond were established and over the decade became household names.

Peter Brock wins at Phillip Island in his Holden Dealer Team LJ GTR XUI Torana to claim the 1973 Manufacturers Championship.

Late 1970's
Due to extensive track damage, racing declined at Phillip Island, with the property farmed by its owners.

Phillip Island Circuit purchased by Placetac Pty Ltd, with the view to re-introducing racing to the famous facility.

Barfield Pty Ltd, led by engineer and promoter, Bob Barnard, was awarded a round of the world motorcycle championship. Barfield granted lease on land and begins restoration of the track and facilities.

Phillip Island stages Australia's first round of the 500cc World Motorcycle Championship on April 6-9. In an emotional victory in front of a crowd of 90 000 plus, the race was won by the Wollongong wizz and world champion, Wayne Gardner.

Phillip Island stages Swan Six Hour Motorcycle Endurance Race. Domestic racing resumes for both cars and motorcycles.

Phillip Island hosts its first round of the Superbike World Championship. Phillip Island continues to host a round each year and over the past decade Aussie names racing in the dynamic formula include Michael Doohan, Peter Goddard, Michael Dowson, Rob Phillis, Kevin Magee, Anthony Gobert, Troy Corser and Troy Bayliss.

Phillip Island loses its round of the 500 cc World Motorcycle Grand Prix to Sydney's Eastern Creek, outbid by the NSW government to attract the event to Sydney.

Phillip Island stages its first round of the Shell Australia Touring Car Championship. It was voted as the best round in Australia for that year and again in 1994. Phillip Island Circuit continued as one of the leading circuits for racing and testing to Australia's top touring car teams.

Australian superbike rider, Troy Corser, wins the Superbike World Championship on board a Ducati at the October race at Phillip Island.

Australian Touring Car Championship changes its name to V8 Supercars and Phillip Island continues to host an annual round.

After a six year absence, Phillip Island wins back the right to stage the 500 cc World Motorcycle Grand Prix. Mick Doohan had already secured his fourth straight GP crown when the race came to Island in October l997. Unfortunately Doohan crashed out whilst leading and Spain's Alex Criville took out the round.

Mick Doohan wins his fifth World title, winning the Phillip Island round to clinch the 500 cc World Motorcycle GP in front of a crowd of 75,000.

The action continues with March's round of the World Superbike Championship delivering an Australian trifecta. World superbike champion, Taree's Troy Bayliss wins both superbike races; while world supersport champion, Kempsey's Andrew Pitt takes the supersport battle.