Upgrade starts on Canberra's motor racing 'nursery'

Around the motor racing world, karting tracks are recognised as the nurseries of future champions, and Canberra's nursery is about to get a little larger.

Karting tracks are where the likes of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and current world Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton all first buckled on a race helmet and banged wheels with other young, ambitious drivers.

Cadet kart racers Lana Aylen (10) from Amaroo and Bailey Sweet (9) from Evatt are among those who will benefit from an expanded Majura track. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Cadet kart racers Lana Aylen (10) from Amaroo and Bailey Sweet (9) from Evatt are among those who will benefit from an expanded Majura track. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Racers as young as seven years old are among the 250 members of the Canberra Kart Racing Club and for a relatively small club, it has a very proud history.

The compact Pialligo Road racetrack is where Mark Webber, the Queanbeyan tearaway who went on to race for the Jaguar and the Red Bull Formula One teams and now travels the world as a Porsche ambassador, first revealed his raw racing talent.

Queanbeyan racer Mark Webber, whose professional career began with the Canberra Kart Racing Club Photo: Karleen  Minney.

Queanbeyan racer Mark Webber, whose professional career began with the Canberra Kart Racing Club Photo: Karleen Minney.

More recently Canberra has sent teenage prodigies Josh Fyfe - who has recently tested for a major V8 Supercar race team - the Wamboin-based Morse brother Alec and Zane, and 10-year-old Sebastian Ruiz, to represent Australia at the world championships.

Now Canberra's racing reputation is likely to grow further with a 400-metre track expansion which will lengthen Circuit Mark Webber from its current 751 metres to a national standard of 1151 metres.

The track expansion fulfils a 2016 election promise made by ACT Labor. The $200,000 government grant will pay for the required earthworks but still leaves a significant task ahead for the rollout of bitumen, lighting, and painting to hit the projected 2020 opening date of the new track section.

The track will expand toward Sutton Road into the now-defunct speedway area next door and the extra circuit length will allow the Canberra club to host national karting titles which would bring hundreds of competitors to the ACT and region.

"We still have a long way to go with this project but this is an important first step," club president Bob Harnas said.

"Our club has a great history of producing good racers and to keep that going, to develop our next Mark Webber, we need to keep improving the track for our emerging juniors to enjoy and to bring it up to a full national standard so we can bid for big title events."

Another important element to the track's growth is that it offers the future potential for fly-in, fly-out racers to the national capital. The track's close location to Canberra airport means racers can have their karts transported direct to the track, and they can fly in for a race meeting.