Surfers Paradise International Raceway was a motor racing complex at Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. The 3.219 km (2.000 mi) long circuit was designed and built by Keith Williams, a motor racing enthusiast who also designed and built the Adelaide International Raceway (AIR) in South Australia in 1972. It was located opposite the Surfers Paradise Ski Gardens at Carrara.
Surfers Paradise Raceway included a dragstrip along the main straight (a design later incorporated into the Williams owned Adelaide International Raceway), with a very fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge leading to a tight corner that turned the track back to a medium-length straight. Then a fast left hander before rushing into a series of rights and lefts that skirted the only hill on the property (commonly known as Repco Hill). A slow right called that opened up brought the track back to the main straight.
The right hand turn under the Dunlop Bridge was widely considered the fastest and most daunting corner in Australian motorsport until the building of the Chase chicane at the Mount Panorama Circuit in 1987, with many top drivers including Allan Moffat, John Harvey and Tony Edmonson all having crashed there over the years.
Within the circuit lay an airstrip and quarter-mile speedway similar to the one that used to sit within the lower part of the Amaroo Park circuit in Sydney. Drag racing commenced at Easter in 1966, with the June meet, the Winternationals, beginning in 1968. The Winternationals became the largest drag racing meet outside the United States.
Keith Williams sold the raceway in 1984, and the circuit closed at the end of 1987 after 21 years of operation, with the final meeting held on the 27th of August. At the end of its life, the outright lap record of 1:04.3 was set in 1986 and was held by John Bowe driving the Chevrolet powered Veskanda C1 Group A/Group C sports car. The Winternationals moved to Willowbank Raceway in 1988, where the race continues to this day. After years of neglect, it was finally destroyed in 2003. The site has since been redeveloped as Emerald Lakes canal estate.
With Lakeside well established as a Queensland's round of the Tasman Series it was not until 1968 that the series visited Surfers Paradise. As typified the 1968 series Jim Clark (Lotus Ford) and Chris Amon (Ferrari) filled the top two positions with Clark's teammate Graham Hill completing the podium. Formula 5000 Tasman Series rounds were also held at the circuit each year from 1970 to 1975.
|1968||Jim Clark||Lotus 49T Ford||Team Lotus|
|1970||Graham McRae||McLaren M10A Chevrolet|
|1971||Frank Matich||McLaren M10B Repco Holden||Rothmans Team Matich|
|1972||Graham McRae||Leda GM1 Chevrolet||Grid International (NZ) Ltd|
|1973||Frank Matich||Matich A50 Repco Holden||Frank Matich|
|1974||Teddy Pilette||Chevron B24 Chevrolet||Chevron Racing Team VDS|
|1975||Johnnie Walker||Lola T332 Repco Holden||Walker Racing|
Australian Grand Prix
The Australian Grand Prix visited just once, in 1975. In torrential rain Max Stewart took his Lola T400 Formula 5000 to victory from John Leffler, who was second on a day when the F5000's were badly out-handled by Ray Winter driving his AF2 Mildren Mono Ford.
|1975||Max Stewart||Lola T400 Chevrolet||Max Stewart Motors|
Rothmans International Series
With the demise of the Tasman Series after 1976, the void was filled with the Rothmans International Series from 1976 to 1979. The first race scheduled for Surfers Paradise on 29 February 1976 was cancelled.
|1977||Warwick Brown||Lola T430 Chevrolet||Racing Team VDS|
|1978||Warwick Brown||Lola T332 Chevrolet||Racing Team VDS|
|1979||David Kennedy||Wolf WR4 Ford Cosworth||Theodore Racing|
Australian Touring Car Championship
The circuit hosted rounds of the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1969, 1971–72, 1974–77 and from 1979 until the circuits closure in 1987.
* The 1976 and 1977 ATCC rounds at Surfers were the Rothmans 300 endurance races
Numerous endurance races were staged at the circuit, most notably the Rothmans 12 Hour events.
National championship rounds
Rounds of various Australian motor racing championship were held at the circuit. Winners of the Surfers Paradise round of a selection of these championships is shown below.
Australian Drivers' Championship
|Australian National Formula / Australian 1½ Litre Formula|
|1966||Spencer Martin||Repco-Brabham BT11A Climax||Bob Jane Racing|
|1967||Spencer Martin||Repco-Brabham BT11A Climax||Bob Jane Racing Team|
|1968||Kevin Bartlett||Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo||Alec Mildren Racing|
|Australian National Formula / Australian Formula 2|
|1969||Kevin Bartlett||Mildren Mono Waggott||Alec Mildren Racing|
|Australian Formula 1 / Australian Formula 2|
|1971||Frank Matich||McLaren M10B Repco Holden||Rothmans Team Matich|
|1972||Frank Matich||Matich A50 Repco Holden||Frank Matich Racing|
|1973||John McCormack||Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden||Ansett Team Elfin|
|1974||Max Stewart||Lola T330 Chevrolet||Max Stewart Motors|
|1975||Max Stewart||Lola T400 Chevrolet||Sharp Corporation|
|1977||John McCormack||McLaren M23 Leyland||Budget Rent-A-Car System|
Australian Sports Car Championship
|1969||Frank Matich||Matich SR4 Repco||Rothmans Team Matich|
|1972||John Harvey||McLaren M6B Repco||Bob Jane Racing|
|1982||Chris Clearihan||Kaditcha Chevrolet||Chris Clearihan|
|1983||Chris Clearihan||Kaditcha Chevrolet||Chris Clearihan|
|1984||Bap Romano||Romano WE84 Cosworth||Bap Romano Racing|
|1985||Chris Clearihan||Kaditcha Chevrolet||Chris Clearihan|
|1986||John Bowe||Veskanda C1 Chevrolet||Bernard van Elsen|
Australian Sports Sedan Championship
|1976||Allan Moffat||Chevrolet Monza||Allan Moffat Racing|
|1977||Bob Jane||Holden HQ Monaro||Bob Jane 2UW Racing Team|
|1978||Allan Grice||Chevrolet Corvair||Craven Mild Racing|
|1979||Phil Ward||Holden HQ Monaro||Channel 10 - NSW Building Society|
|1980||Tony Edmondson||Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Repco Holden||Donald Elliott|
Australian GT Championship
|1982||Alan Jones||Porsche 935||Porsche Cars Australia|
|1983||Rusty French||Porsche 935||John Sands Racing|
|1984||Allan Grice||Chevrolet Monza||Re-Car Racing|
|1985||Bryan Thomson||Chevrolet Monza||Thomson-Fowler Motorsport|
- "Believed to be motor bike racing at the Surfers Paradise International Raceway, Carrara, ca 1965". National Library of Australia: Picture Australia. 1965. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2008.
- "Surfers Paradise International Raceway – primotipo…".
- Galpin, Darren. "Surfer's Paradise". GEL Motorsport Information Page. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
- "Surfers Paradise Venue of the Surfers Paradise International". Tasman-Series.com. Archived from the original on 14 February 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2008.
- "Winternationals 2012".
- Walker, Terry (1995). Fast Tracks - Australia's Motor Racing Circuits: 1904-1995. Wahroonga, NSW: Turton & Armstrong. p. 154. ISBN 0908031556.
- "Location In the centre of the Gold Coast". Emerald Lakes. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
- "Tasman Series". Tasman-Series.com. Archived from the original on 9 January 2006. Retrieved 27 July 2008.