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When Darwin joined the Supercars calendar

This weekend marks the Repco Supercars Championship’s Indigenous Round at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin, but before 1998 the Norther Territory was bereft of any touring car action.

Rapid growth of the Supercars Championship in the late-1990s witnessed a rise of popularity, professionalism and an increase of events namely Adelaide in 1999, but a season before Hidden Valley debuted.

Drag racing has been a staple of motorsport in the top end since the early-1960s and the requirement for a new venue led to Hidden Valley being mooted as the solution in 1979. Work began on the first stage of Hidden Valley’s drag strip five years later providing the base of further expansion.

Built to international standards, the opening of Hidden Valley Drag Strip took place on June 9, 1985 as the next year a road course section was begun using the already existent infrastructure (i.e. drag strip) to form a circuit, which continues to be in use today.

However, it was very much a circuit best suited to local racing due to its lack of pit buildings and the chances of it turning into a dustbowl being quite high.

This changed in 1997 when plans were first hatched for Supercars to race in the top end, but the circuit needed to be significantly upgraded for such an event to take place.

A budget of $2.5 million was allocated to complete the necessary works to ensure Hidden Valley was up to CAMS and Motorcycle Australia standards. This included a new front straight alongside the drag strip, pit buildings and safety barriers.

When Supercars travelled up to the circuit a year later, it soon grew into a highlight of the season for the paddock allowing the Victorian teams to escape the winter.

The first race was won by Craig Lowndes and this weekend welcomes the debut of Gen3 to Darwin.