In 1988, the Thunderdome opened for super speedway racing. Until then, the only other banked super speedway racetracks were in the US.
Marshall Brewer watched the first race and has competed in every race season since. He is now Australian Champion. This type of racing is very different from the traditional circuit style racing and requires different skills. Brewer approached Calder Park Raceway owner Bob Jane with the idea of starting a driving school at the Thunderdome. It has powered ahead.
Calder Park is used regularly by car clubs for fastrack racing, private race practice and testing racing vehicles. On Friday nights and Sundays, registered vehicles run street drags. There is training for potential race car drivers and the general public can go to experience speed in a safe environment without being fined!
The super speedway is called the Thunderdome. It is 1.8km long and has 24° banking at each end. The angle down the straight is 4°, 6° down the back straight. V8s use the 2.5km circuit. There is something happening on one track or the other every second weekend.
Fastrack has a stable of five Nascars, five Auscars and four Fastrack V8 Super Challenge race cars.
There are differences between the cars, though all have V8 engines. A Nascar is an American Winston Cup racing car. It has left-hand drive and a massive top race speed of 300kph, making it the world's fastest form of motor sport even faster than Formula 1.
Auscars are right-hand drive Holdens or Fords with a top race speed of 265kph. The five litre 350 Chev-700 engine has been modified to produce 425hp!
Rookies are decked out in a racing suit and receive instruction in a classroom before being taken around the Thunderdome in a regular road vehicle. Everyone has a 15-minute driving session with an instructor. By the end of the session, speeds of around 220kph are reached. They then transfer to an Auscar or Nascar for the ride of a lifetime, four laps as a passenger reaching speeds of around 250kph.
At the end of the day, everyone gets together for a barbecue and, for a small fee, friends and family can join in. There is a certificate with photograph and a Fastrack cap presented to participants.