The first races on Phillip Island took place in 1928 with the running of the 100 Miles Road Race, an event which has since become known as the first Australian Grand Prix. It used, as was traditional at the time, a high speed rectangle of local closed-off public roads with four identical right hand corners. The course length varied, with the car course approximately 6 miles per lap, to motorcycle racing of approx. Template:Convert.
As speeds grew, there was a need for a safe circuit. The original Phillip Island road circuit, based around the airfield, was a dusty trek up and down hills and through tough tight corners. It survived from the late 1920s to 1935.
In 1951, a group of six local businessmen decided to build a new track. About 2 km away from the original circuit, it still bears the corner name signs of the original circuit. As the piece of available land was on the edge of the coast, the track is known for its steep grades - the highest 57metres - which caused cost overruns and delays in track opening. The new track hosted its first race in 1956, but after extensive damage from the 1962 Armstrong 500, the circuit could not afford repairs and the race moved to Bathurst.
The circuit reopened in 1966 but again, due to its testing terrain, the circuit required much maintenance and slowly declined through the 1970s. It was farmed by its owners while closed and was then sold in 1985 in preparation for reopening, but did not do so until 1989 after agreement on a long term lease and rebuild agreement. The World Motorcycle Championship gave the circuit a grand re-opening in 1989 with a brilliant race long dice in the 500 cc division between Wayne Gardner, Wayne Rainey, Christian Sarron and Kevin Magee. The race was won by Gardner to the delight of the huge crowd. It hosted its first World Superbike race in 1990. Mathew Close won the first race in 1990 by 11.31 sec. The Australian Touring Car Championship also returned in 1990 with Dick Johnson winning.
Director of the Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Andrew Fox, stated that they are interested in hosting a Formula One Grand Prix in the future. Although he admitted that there is a lot to be done to make the track suitable for Formula One racing, he stated that they are willing to make the investments for this.
Template:Reflist "The Official 50 Race History of the Australian Grand Prix"
- Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit official website
- Circuit history
- Circuit info from the official V8 Supercar site