Wakefield Park’s future in doubt as court orders tough new noise restrictions

The NSW Land and Environment Court has handed down its decision regarding Wakefield Park, limiting the circuit to roughly 30 racing days per year



  • Noise limits of up to 95dBA capped at just four days per month
  • Track days, defensive driving courses and race meetings to be affected
  • Circuit operations to be paused immediately

Wakefield Park may have to temporarily close after a court decision to impose harsher noise restrictions has thrown the facility’s future into doubt.

The venue has been engaged in a bitter legal dispute with the Goulburn Mulwaree Council since its proposed upgrades were blocked last year due to factors “largely based on noise and social impact issues”.

While the Benalla Auto Club – the circuit’s operator – pledged to take the council to court last year, the New South Wales Land and Environment Court today announced it will impose a hard limit of 95 decibels (dBA) at just four “race meetings per month”, forcing Wakefield Park to allegedly shut for the short term while it seeks legal counsel, Wheels understands, with a number of upcoming events cancelled.

The new guidelines essentially class all activities at the circuit as race meetings – meaning track days, defensive driving courses and actual racing events are all implicated, greatly reducing the number of operating days for Wakefield Park to just 48 annually while noise levels will be limited to between 85 and 95 dBA for a period of no more than 15 minutes.

For context, the legal exhaust noise limit for a road car in Australia is 90dBA, while a motorcycle is increased to 94dB – both readings are taken well and truly before redline.

‘Red Category’ events, which are those that are the loudest permitted by the new rules, will require 11 “respite days” after each event is completed, effectively killing any track activity for almost two weeks – making it unviable for racing events to occur, which usually run from a Friday to Sunday.

Sources who were attending a track day at Wakefield Park today said they were unsure as to whether the day’s activities would go ahead in the wake of the decision, while Goulburn businesses are also reporting accommodation cancellations ahead of upcoming events.

The announcement not only impacts Goulburn locals, but also those in the neighbouring regions, including Canberra – which is only an hour away from Wakefield Park via the Federal Highway.

Daniel Flanagan, from Canberra-based driver training company 5th Gear Motoring, uses the facility up to 30 days in a year for track days, as well as defensive driving courses for local young drivers, which includes specific training days for people with special needs.

He believes the tighter noise restrictions will pose a great impact on the business and could reduce the number of opportunities for those who are usually unable to drive to have the chance.

“We’re there about 25 to 30 days in the year so we’re talking two days a month at a minimum when you average it out,” said Flanagan.

“Not only does it affect us with our motorsports activities, but where it really gets us is the learning to drive and the special needs programs that we do. We do a day for Vision Australia as a fundraising event to allow people to have a drive of a car who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity.

“All those sorts of events are also going to be impacted by it because of the way in which they’ve set the event status and the respite days that need to follow each event. It’s ridiculous.

“We can shift our business in different directions, but what we’re able to do at Wakefield Park complements our core business. Sydney Motorsport Park is not an option; I’m not going to go hire Winton Motor Raceway. We’re not going to travel three or four hours in each direction, it’s just not feasible.”

Flanagan holds concerns about what the restrictions will mean for the local motoring scene as the drive to keep speed off the streets is met with fewer facilities for motorists to do so.

“I think the biggest problem is that there’s so many pushes in the ACT at the moment and so many people trying to squash down the car enthusiast culture, saying that they’re what’s adding to all the road fatalities and they’re all the high risk drivers.

“Everyone says ‘drive to Goulburn’ to do it, but now you’ve taken Goulburn away. What are they actually expecting car enthusiasts – the people who’ve got race cars and want go do track days – to do? You know?

“The flow on effect is if people don’t have access to a track and they live within a two to three hour radius of this location, guess what? It’s going to end up back on the streets. It’s a bit unfortunate.”

Although the court decision has approved the Benalla Auto Club to make its proposed upgrades to Wakefield Park, the reduced number of days it can operate has put those developments in doubt.

“It’s a little bit like saying to your café owner, feel free to spend as much money on your shop as you like, but the condition of you doing that is you’re only allowed to open one day a week,” Flanagan added.

“Who in their right mind would want to invest that sort of money into a facility which you are then told you can only use for roughly 15 to 20 per cent of the year? What a joke.”

The court’s decision is also expected to have a massive direct impact on businesses such as Track Day Club and Trackschool Trackdays, which operate out of the facility, with Trackschool owner John Boston taking to Facebook to express his concerns.

“The track looks like they are going to have to spend more money on more legal battles to keep the doors open,” Boston wrote.

“Very sad times for the car community.”

More to follow.