It’s long been regarded as a mecca for all things motorsport but Brisbane’s iconic Archerfield International Speedway could soon be turned into dust as investors circle the site for future development.
Home to national championships, world series sprintcar events, and monster trucks, the historic speedway in Acacia Ridge has been actively listed for sale via an expression of interest campaign.
Cushman and Wakefield director Morgan Ruig said the 6.45ha site was likely to attract strong interest.
It is believed that the site could fetch between $20-$25 million.
He said the current speedway was one of the last large scale industrial infill sites amongst the Archerfield Airport Precincts, making it an attractive offering among industrial developers.
“We’ve got pretty good interest at the moment from a vast range of listed and unlisted real estate trusts, local developers and owner-occupiers,” he said.
“That said, we haven’t found our buyer yet, despite getting a lot of interest from large development groups looking to build warehouses to support the needs of Queensland.
“We’ve also had a couple of inquiries from buyers looking to retain the speedway and we are certainly open to that but in the end, whoever is willing to pay the most will be the buyer.”
Mr Ruig said turning the speedway into an industrial estate was a natural progression.
“It’s zoned industrial, which means the site could be turned into anything from warehousing to logistics, to machinery,” he said.
“The Acacia Ridge industrial market also has very limited land supply and with its central location, will easily capitalise on the growth of e-commerce given the precincts access to existing amenity and major infrastructure.”
The end of an era for Queensland motorheads?
With speedway generating around $2 billion in revenue annually, the closure of the Archerfield race track will hit home in more than one way.
Besides a loss in tourism dollars for Queensland – the average three day speedway event attracts between $4 million and $9 million, according to industry body Speedway Australia. The closure will mean the end of an era for thousands of motorheads who have ventured to the race track every Saturday for the past four decades.
This includes John Kelly whose whole life has been embedded in the speedway since the day it opened its gates in 1978.
Indeed, his love for the race track is so strong that he and wife Kathy took over as site managers in 2000.
“Both of our children were raised here so it’s going to be very sad having to say goodbye,” Mr Kelly said.
“But the reality is that the landowners are both in their eighties now, so it’s probably time for them to move on.
“Ideally, you also need ten to 16 hectares of land to really run a speedway these days, with proper parking, which we don’t currently have.
“But for now, we’re still locked in for one season which kicks off in a couple of weeks time and after that we’ll have to wait and see.”
Sport development officer for Speedway Australia Ben Bishop said talks were underway with the Queensland government to secure funding for a new race track and future for around 1100 state-based competitors.
“We had a couple of meetings with government officials in regards to where to from here,” he said.
“Those conversations are steering in the direction of [building a new race track at] Willowbank [near Ipswich], so we’re in the process now to set up a meeting in regards to being part of that motorsport precinct.
“But having secured an extra season, that’s given us a little extra breathing room to find a solution.”
Demand for commercial land at all-time high
Motorsport precincts have long held a fascination with buyers with recent sales highlighting an appetite for these sites which are seen as prime development land.
Examples include Speedway City in Adelaide which sold for $2.42 million in December last year, while South Australia’s acclaimed Port Wakefield 1955 Grand Prix Circuit sold for $90,000 at auction in 2019 – 10% above price expectation.
A deal is yet to be reached on the sale of the Lang Lang proving ground on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne, where Holden tested generations on iconic Aussie cars.
Vietnamese automotive manufacturer Vin Vast relisted the site in 2021, only a year after purchasing the 877ha property for $36.3 million.
JLL’s head of industrial and logistics Peter Blade said buyer demand for prime commercial real estate, particularly industrial sites, was at an all-time high.
This, he said, was in part driven by a “take-off” in e-commerce on the back of COVID-19.
“Everyone is moving into e-commerce as more people are ordering things online,” Mr Blade said.
“So whatever it is that you want to be delivered to your front door, those things come from warehouses, not from shops.
“So we’ve seen e-commerce explode … especially in Melbourne and Sydney but people are starting to shift their focus up north as you can’t get buildings in those other locations anymore.”