The State Motorcycle Complex at Broadford, Victoria is an amazing place. Owned by Motorcycling Victoria since 1975, the 420-acre property has a road race circuit, motocross and supercross tracks, speedway track, dirt track, enduro loop and trial area. Simply stunning. If only MNSW would do something similar!
Located less than an hour (88km) north of Melbourne just off the Hume Highway, was made possible thanks to the guts and brains of a few back in the 1950s. The then ACU of Victoria started the Land Purchase Fund (LPF) with the aim of one day buying land for use by racers so they have somewhere to compete forever. A contribution of two shillings (20c) was made by each rider towards the fund. Eventually then Hartwell MC president Murray Nankervis spotted a parcel of land on Strath Creek Rd, Broadford.
The first track to open was the MX track, then the dirt track. In the mid 1980s an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers began work on the road race circuit and it was opened in 1990. The road race track is in Reg Hunt Park and is 2.16km long with 12 turns – nine rights and three lefts, or two lefts and a left kink. For me, it is the most enjoyable track in Australia. I love the undulations, camber changes and hard braking in some spots. Broadford has it all and is an extremely fun track to ride.
Back in the day, all the big names would do the Shell Oils Australian Road Race Championships, The Vic Titles and the NSW Titles. The State championships were just as big as the Nationals. It was fantastic. My first meeting was the first round of the 1996 Vic titles. I rode a Graeme Boyd sponsored RGV250. Kev Curtain had won the Shell Oils 250 Production Championship on it the previous season.
Back then the pits were chock-a-block. Well, there were only a few dodgy carports for the lucky few with the dollars. The rest of us were parked in the dirt. I had my Mitsubishi L300 as a garage and the back door up as shelter. It was stinking hot during the day and freezing cold during the night. I camped there in my van and was the only person in the pits – I’m sure of it. In fact, I spent half the night walking the track with a torch. A lot of good that would have done!
First practice Friday was a disaster – a holed radiator on the back straight and a ceased engine by the run down the hill before I realised. As I was on my own, it was a nightmare… I missed the rest of the day of course and luckily a kind person in the pits drove all the way to Melbourne and back to get me a second-hand radiator! I rebuilt the seized engine in the dirt and in the back of my van and made it out for warm up and qualifying on Saturday morning. I can’t remember the rest of the weekend but a few top 10 finished in my first race meeting there was OK.
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I remember watching the greats there. Back in the 250GP days who could forget Craig Connell or Marcus Payton (RIP) ripping it up in the 59-second mark. Or Andrew Willy on the 125GP bike, Kev Curtain, Chad Turnball, Andrew Pitt, Karl Muggeridge or Chris McAteer on 250 Proddies. Not to mention the awesome superbike and supersport races of the 1990s in the 57,58 and 59 second brackets.
Back then the track was in shocking condition and I’m happy to say it is much better these days. The deep groove that sent many a rider into the wall on the brakes into turn one is gone, and there is a bit more run off in places but it is still a track you really, really don’t want to crash on… not only is the runoff limited by natural terrain and the odd concrete wall – there is also little room for other competitors to get out of the way so it is very easy to get yourself run over if you crash infront of a pack at Broadford – particularly in turns one and two…
Facilities are not bad. The bathrooms have hot showers and are clean. There is a good café with really good coffee. Power is trip free most times in the pits and camping is permitted too. All up a great place and best of all, Broadford is the best spectator track in Australia. From anywhere around the outside of the circuit you can see the full lap!
There is plenty of accommodation in surrounding areas. I usually stay in Seymor as there are a bunch of reasonably priced hotels there and a good shopping centre to get supplies. It is just 20-minutes up the road and offers a lot more than Broadford.
I start my lap on the chute and position myself to the far left of the track if going for an optimum time. About a metre in from the edge of the track there is plenty of rubber on the track and lots of grip. Braking here starts really, really late. I normally take up lever slack and roll off 10 meters before the track starts to climb and then I do my braking up the hill as I turn into T1. Using the track like a ramp to stop the bike. If you have someone slipstreaming you on the chute, stick about a metre from the inside and hug the paint into T1 on the brakes.
Turn One & Two
It is important to get your turning done quickly here and crack the throttle otherwise you load the front and it tucks a bit. As soon as you crack the throttle start to feed power on. There are numerous fast lines here but if alone I double-apex the two corners turning them into a triangle. Between T1 and T2 a quick turning moment means you can stand your bike up and use the fat part of the rear tyre.
Lots of highsides here as riders open the gas in the wrong part of the corner. It is very off camber. Off the start this is a great place to pass. Hug the paint all the way around the inside and you are guaranteed to pass at least five people and block them on exit. A good exit is crusial for speed at the end of the back straight.
Turn Three & Four – back straight
The back straight is so, so important. As you exit T1 and T2 you crest a small hill at the top then there is a flat-out downhill run to T5. T3 is a small kink, as is T4, and so the fast way is to straightline it all the way to T5. Stay tucked in really tight. I find this a great place to pass as people run wide on the gas out of T2 I stick to the right of the back straight all the way and then have the upper hand on the brakes into turn five, usually making up a few spots in the first few laps.
The approach to turn five is uphill and can catch you out. As you brake very, very hard and late up the ramp the back wheel wants to come off the ground. It can be a tricky balance trying to get optimum stopping done while keeping the bike stable in readiness for turning. I usually get my arse right back off the seat over the back of the bike here to help out. If you are alone, you can use all the track from left side braking right up to just before the apex of the corner. If you are in a battle you need to make your way to the inside before you get to the corner.
Beware! It’s not hard to go around the outside of someone into this corner and you can then get on the gas earlier and ruin the other rider’s run. So it is a corner of many variables. The main thing is getting that throttle open hard. It is off camber on exit but there is grip. If you are not battling wheelstand down the hill you are not opening the throttle hard enough! It is important to get good drive down the hill to T6 as a pass up the inside is possible. If you don’t make the pass here it is almost impossible until after T9.
Turn six is a right kink that is very fast. As you exit T5 it is easy to get yourself a bit wide. You can’t afford to drop off the edge of the track as it is around a 10cm drop off to the dirt and you won’t get back on without a crash. As you accelerate downhill towards T6 you are already setting yourself up for T7 where you brake hard for the T8/9 flip flop. I sometimes go around the outside for a pass around T6 & T7 and just shoot up the inside into T8 but you have to have the pace. If you hesitate on excecution you end up in the dirt!
If alone I do my braking earlier and I’m on the gas into T7 and on steady throttle through T8 & T9 back hard on the gas. If in a battle I brake into T7 and even the change of direction in T8 then hard on the gas. It’s important to really get the steering done quickly and get that bike from full lean right to full lean left then right again as fast as you can. It’s quicker to sit in the middle of the seat and not hang off too far wasting time climbing from one side of the bike to the other in T7/T8 then hang off for T9 so you can get the bike up on the fat part of the rear tyre for the off camber exit. Really important to get good drive off T9 for the long downhill run to T10 where it is a great place to nip up the inside.
Turn Ten & Eleven
These are my favourite corners. They are cambered positively and there is lots of grip here. Ideally you want to use all the track into T10 and not brake too hard but carry lots of rolling speed which will have you flowing all the way onto the chute eventually. But in a race you usually have someone trying to pass on the brakes here. Then they will lose their rhythm and slow both of you up through T11 and T12. So I usually stick to the middle of the track and brake like a bastard into thos corner, then ease the lever off and it’s immediately rolling on the throttle hard at what seems like an incredible lean angle heading into T11. It is amazing how hard you can accelerate towards T12 there is lots of time here.
If you got T10 & T11 right and got good drive off T11 you will have had a heart-in-mouth whoooaa ‘I hope the front holds because my elbow is almost on the ground’ moment into T12. Don’t panic there is grip just don’t go too wide and don’t grab a handful of brakes! I use plenty of rear and lots of throttle through T12, lifting the bike between my legs through the off-camber exit then driving it at full throttle down the hill onto the chute. If in a battle, you need to square off T12 entry and brake deep, turn and squart the gas for a run onto the chute but that is not the ideal way through the turn.
Broadford Lap Records
- OUTRIGHT: Steve Tozer CBR1000RR 57.93
- 250GP: Craig Connell TZ250 59.40
- SUPERBIKE: Alistair Maxwell ZXR750 58.75
- FX: Craig Coxhell R1 58.34
- SUPERSPORT: Christian Casella R6 58.41
- 125GP: Blake Leigh-Smith RS125 1:00.05
- 250 Proddie: Rodney Taplin 1:03.60
- SUPERMONO: Peter Parkin Yam600 1:02.05
- THUNDERBIKES: John Allen MV F4 59.45
- SIDECAR: Terry & Todd Goldie TZ750 1:02.40
- FX Thunder: Rob Carrall VTR 1:01.35