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Days of thunder – Amaroo Park | Events

One of the world’s craziest tracks hosted Australia’s most important annual road race of the Seventies, the Castrol Six Hour.

Amaroo Park and the Castrol Six Hour race epitomised the freewheeling Australia of the Seventies.

In a setting almost like a Roman amphitheatre, the nation’s best racers flogged the latest production motorcycles for six hours every October. Watching this gladiatorial spectacle were thousands of sun-baked fans, drinking cans of lager, puffing on a durrie and eating Dagwood dogs.

As the booze and the strong spring sun took hold, the men went topless and the women stripped down to skimpy outfits. Meanwhile the bikes roared around and around just metres below them. What a place. What an event.

Carved out of the floor of a rocky valley in suburban Sydney, Amaroo Park snaked 1.9km around a series of cliffs with blind corners and long lengths of Armco barriers.

  It would not be licensed if it was built today, but all through the 1970s it hosted Australia’s most popular motorcycle race, the Castrol 6 Hour.

The event helped launch the international careers of a generation of riders from both Australia and New Zealand. If you could win this race, you could win anywhere in the world.

At its height in the late Seventies, the Castrol 6 Hour attracted as many as 10,000 fans, many of them riding their motorcycles to the event, and filling the circuit to overflowing.

In 1977 Mike Hailwood took the event to a new level of interest as he started what would become a fairytale return to racing, and the Isle of Man TT.

The following year Yamaha’s shaft-drive XS1100 and Honda’s outrageous six-cylinder CBX 1000 brought multi-cylinder madness to the event.

In 1979 Suzuki’s new GS1000 lapped the entire field within three hours, taking race professionalism to a new level.

Read the full story in the current issue of AMCN on sale now!

By Hamish Cooper

Photography Phil Aynsley, John Meara and AMCN archives