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Karting at Mountain View Hillclimb

An Introduction to Karting at Mountain View Motor Sport Complex

 

The history of kart racing within the folds of the Grafton Sporting Car Club, at least in ‘modern’ times can be traced back to the mid 1980’s. At this point, the GSCC offered the kart drivers in the Clarence Valley area a place to build a race track. This track, known as the Mountain View Motor Sport Complex, while one of the shortest kart tracks in Australia, is the most physically demanding. The layout is also technically difficult with a number of camber changes and banked turns that allow high speed, high ‘G’ cornering.

 

Karting in Grafton can be traced back to the mid fifties with the track located at the South Grafton Rodeo Grounds (now known as Hawthorne Park). Some of the infrastructure can still be located there. The current rodeo arena now sprawls over the bulk of the former track site, obliterating much of the evidence of the old circuit itself. In a twist of fate, the original broadcast box and secretary’s office at the rodeo grounds is now the race control centre and canteen for modern day karting at Mountain View.

 

Karting faded in the late sixties and the only clubs to remain were Tamworth and Lismore. During this time karting wandered along with little direction or management until the late seventies when karting began to receive a lot of notice in Europe. An army of Australian drivers heading to the ‘Old Country’ saw karting in a new light. That is was a training ground for future racing drivers. A couple of Grafton drivers picked up on the sport and raced on a regular basis at Lismore and Tamworth.

 

In 1987 a group of karting enthusiasts formed the Clarence Valley Kart Drivers Assocation. A number of former drivers came along to help with the initial meetings, with the first meeting of interest being chaired by Daryl Wolfe. The secretary was Susan Roberts and the steering committee members were Steve Powter and Royce Wilson. At this stage no membership fees were charged and, perhaps because it was free to be a member, the CVKDA boasted some 140 associates. The Association ran several ‘come and try’ trips to Raleigh raceway and one trip was so popular that some people only managed a few laps before it was time to go home.

 

September 1987 and the Association commenced talks with the Grafton City Council in regards to building a track at the Council’s Gnudwoc (cow dung) Park, Lilypool Road, South Grafton. The track was designed and passed by the governing bodies of the day. The DA had been submitted and things were underway for the 890 metre track to be built. At this point a delegate from the Grafton Sporting Car Club approached the steering committee of the CVKDA with a proposal to join forces for the redevelopment of the hill climb track at Mountain View.

 

The proposal was put to vote and, majority rules; the Clarence Valley Kart Drivers Association was no more.

While the Mountain View track was being redeveloped, most kart drivers were forced to remain member of other clubs in the area, namely Raleigh and Lismore. The rebuild of the complex would take some time. The opening of the Mountain View Motor Sport Complex to Grafton members for practice on was a day keenly sought by the drivers. As photographs of the time show, the area looked like the planet Mars. An all red surround with a jet black scar of the race track cutting across the surface.

 

Straight away the track was fast. While there was some disappointment on behalf of the designers on just how one part of the circuit performed (it was far faster than they hoped), the drivers attacked with gusto. Even after a few laps the circuit was showing just how tough it was going to be.

 

The first meeting was held in August 1991 and was one of the rounds that year’s Northern Zone Championships. Unfortunately for the reputation of the track, six drivers managed to tip themselves over purely through poor judgement while letting ambition outweigh ability, trying to beat the circuit without learning the tricks of the layout. The track does still, to this day, catch out the over confident, the unwary and the newcomers.

 

In conclusion, karting started from humble beginnings on a dirt track in South Grafton and has progressed through to a high class, safe track at Mountain View.