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PIARC celebrates its 70th Anniversary

Last weekend, an important and long standing organisation celebrated its 70th birthday in the form of the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club or PIARC for short.

A variety of categories headlined by the booming Formula 5000s took part in celebrations for the club at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

PIARC was established in 1952, four years before the circuit was built at its current location following purchase of the land from Mr P. Whitlock and ground was broken.

As owner of Brighton Beach Motors and a keen motor racing enthusiast, Whitlock was eager to help the project as the layout was decided in January 1953 followed by the start of rotary hoeing. Close to four years later, Lex Davison won the first feature event on the new circuit.

The Armstrong 500 now known as the Bathurst 1000 started at the circuit in 1960, but was moved due to the track conditions to Mount Panorama three years later.

Doubt surrounded the circuit in 1964 when the land was put up for sale, despite PIARC contributing some $100,000 on the initial building and maintenance at the time, however Len Lukey bought the property and a full rebuild commenced.

By 1967, Phillip Island featured plenty of amenities, however doubt was again cast when Lukey passed away in 1978 as did the agreement for PIARC to control and develop circuit racing at the venue.

Local land owners came to the rescue to reinvigorate and rebuild the circuit for the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in 1989 in part due to Wayne Gardner’s 500cc GP success in 1987.

Since then, Lindsay Fox’s company LINFOX purchased the circuit and has continually updated it to its current guise.

PIARC continues to organise popular events at the venue to this day including its 70th Anniversary meeting.

Repco has history as Chairman Sir Charles McGrath was a major patron of PIARC.

And the winners from last weekend? David Hardman in a 1974 Lola T332 won the F5000 Trophy Race, while the Elfin David Hardman took victory in the two other races driving an Elfin MR8.

Nick Schembri took victory in Superkarts, Trent Grubel in Formula Open and Craig Lindsell took the Under 2-Litre Sports Sedans.