Baskerville Raceway D.O.B 1958
Baskerville Raceway is Australian motorsport’s hidden gem.
The 2.01 km track is also steeped in history and is the oldest continually licensed full-time racetrack in Australia.
Baskerville Raceway owes its birth to the foresight of the Hobart Sporting Car Club and the generosity of landholder Calvin Morrisby.
In the mid 1950s members of the newly-formed HSCC had been scouting around for a suitable parcel of land upon which a race circuit could be built. At the conclusion of a speed trials event they found themselves at a spot overlooking Morrisby’s rural property ‘Baskerville’. Morrisby loved the idea presented to him, and better still was prepared to lease it to the club for a 99-year period with the peppercorn rent of one shilling per year.
The club came up with a layout that put a premium on drivers’ skill thanks to the lie of the land – a natural amphitheatre. The 2km circuit essentially ran up, along and down the side of a hill, allowing for a downhill straight of 500m, plus a series of interesting corners and a short steep climb. The pit/paddock area was centrally located, where the land leveled out, with spectators taking in the action from their elevated position to the track’s south.
As described by the track designers of the day, “The competitors are catered for by a course which will maintain their interest and provide never a dull moment.”
Baskerville Raceway was opened in February 1958.
Through the 1960s and early ’70s Baskerville’s race meetings remained largely local affairs, with few mainland stars venturing south to Hobart. In contrast, it was Longford, where Tasmania’s premier annual race meeting, featuring the biggest names in international racing, was held until the temporary circuit’s demise after the ’68 Tasman Series event. Then Symmons Plains assumed the mantle of the state’s ‘big time’ racing venue, hosting Tasmania’s annual ATCC round on 46 occasions between 1969 and to date.
Baskerville did enjoy a period where it hosted national championship events – Sports Sedans, sports cars and even Formula 5000 one year. In the 1970s Baskerville had an annual meeting called the ‘Tas Ten Thousand’ these events were massively popular.
Australian Sports Sedan Championship/GT rounds were held between 1976 and 1982. The last of these saw Brock, in Bob Jane’s Monza, battle the works Porsche 935 of Alan Jones and local star Tony Edmondson in Don Elliot’s Alfa-Chev V8.
Then there were the innovative touring car invitational meetings held spasmodically in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Brock had his last outing in an A9X Torana in December 1979 at the Winfield 25s meeting, while the curtain fell on the Group C touring car era in November 1984 with the running of the Touring Car Cup.
Single car qualifying was used to set the grid in 1977, a year ahead of Bathurst’s Hardies Heroes.
When Calvin Morrisby died, the land was sold to a consortium of local motorsport-minded businessmen.
The HSCC gave up the peppercorn lease in return for a 25 percent share in the company which was formed to own the land and the raceway. This company operated for a number of years until the consortium decided to sell the property and the HSCC then became the owners, albeit with a hefty mortgage.
Baskerville remained in the hands of the HSCC in the 1990s with the highest profile meetings for trucks and national sports sedan challenges. Late in the decade the club experienced financial difficulties that were just too much for a club to maintain.
A new company, Motorsports Tasmania Pty Ltd, was formed in 2000 when 35 individuals and clubs invested in the new entity and became its shareholders. The new company purchased the assets of the HSCC, paid off its debt and began operating the Baskerville circuit with sufficient funds to improve its presentation and maintenance levels. The company is also the owner of the Symmons Plains facility.
On the 2nd April 2015, a special General Meeting was held and shareholders agreed to change the constitution and Motorsports Tasmania applied, and successfully became, a not for profit organisation. Founding shareholders remain as members of the organisation whilst a volunteer Board presides over the company. The organisation relies on the generosity of volunteers and enthusiasts to help maintain both circuits.
In June 2013 The Baskerville Foundation was launched with the goal of raising $600,000 within 5 years to resurface Baskerville and undertake various other smaller project including sealing the entry road, critical drainage works and refurbishing the control tower.
Fast forward to July 2018, $1,080,000.00 has been spent on improvements with further projects planned.