The site itself was used by the RAAF during World War II as a "dispersal field", one of many in the Sydney area. It was also used for training, repair and salvage units. The first RAAF guard dog unit also used the site during this period. During this time it was known as "Mt Druitt" rather than the later locality name of Whalan.
I wasn't able to find a 1943 aerial image in the NSW SIX database but there was a 1961 image available via Blacktown City Council. I have marked the runway/"strip straight" alignment plus the future Debrincat Ave (which severs the runway at the northern end) and the race track extension to the south:
I am currently unsure what other features may be "leftovers" from the RAAF use. Other dispersal fields included hangars, admin buildings and aircraft "hides" but whilst presumed to have existed, at least to some degree and in some form, size and location are not specifically mentioned at Whalan/Mt Druitt in any documentation I have found.
Like the other satellite or dispersal strips around Sydney the land was gradually re-purposed post-war. Between 1948 and 1958 the old (roughly north-south) airstrip was incorporated into what became the main straight of the Mount Druitt race track. Initially it was a 1.5 mile (2.4km or possibly 2.9km by one source) out-and-back or "hot dog" style with tight 180 degree turn-arounds at each end but the full course, using a privately-owned paddock, was measured variously at 2.4miles (3.8km) or perhaps 3.6 kilometres long; it was situated on what is believed to be Whalan Reserve, possibly Tregear Reserve, part of the current Mount Druitt Industrial area and Madang Avenue Primary School. (Whilst the airstrip itself certainly extended into what is now Tregear Reserve I am uncertain that the race track used the full length of the airstrip.) The longer course was in use by 1952.
The track was in any event closed in 1958 when a trench was cut roughly east-west by an excavator as a result of heated land ownership and management disputes, rendering the full length circuit unusable for racing. That trench is apparently still visible as a drainage ditch in parts.
Now - and this could be a scaling issue - the maps I have seen so far offer up a question or 2: did the Mt Druitt race track use the full length of the airstrip, or just the southern section? Or did the track get shortened to the north before the digger went through to the south? The 1961 aerial shows the runway quite clearly and appears to show the race track looping back before the end of the strip (to my eyes, anyway). OTOH there was no need to allow for Debrincat Ave as it clearly didn't exist before the track ceased operation in 1958. Hopefully someone can fill me in on the answers here!
So take your pick. Here's option (a) with the race track using the full length of the airstrip (ie crossing what is now Debrincat Ave into what became Tregear Reserve):
Option (b) is a race track cut short at the northern end, no longer crossing into Tregear Reserve. Maybe this actually happened? The shorter "full" track is shown on a number of images to be found on the Internet and it's unclear which is the original source. Perhaps there were 2 versions of the "full" circuit, or perhaps it's that scaling issue I mentioned!
I did attempt to reconcile the scale by matching landmarks but am not convinced either way. In this image I have superimposed the shorter "full" circuit on the airfield site. Again credit to Blacktown City Council, Google Maps and Wikipedia for information and images that helped locate the track.
Here's an image I have compiled from several Internet sources into one complete image showing all known (to me) corner names and other labels:
This map becomes your option (c), if you like! It shows a shorter "full circuit" in the thickest black line with a dotted alternative route to the east (that shows in all versions of course) and thinner lines suggesting an extension to the north (though perhaps not long enough to cross current day Debrincat Ave?) and south plus a smaller loop added again to the south, all within bounds of the airstrip width. Confused? You should be...
Interestingly there's also bitumen "bike track" at the southern end of the site that was (according to Blacktown City Council records) "originally utilised as a small race circuit". It looks substantial, if dilapidated now, apparently with banked corners! So, was it for pushbikes or motor bikes? The oldest sections are wider than strictly "necessary" for push bike racing (ie criteriums) and several people have mistakenly assumed that the cycle track is remnant motor race track; however there is considerable doubt over that. Whilst some sections do indeed seem to coincide others are clearly "new" and unrelated to previous use. The narrowest sections of this cycling track do appear to follow the course of the previous motor race track but lie on top of previous use and in parts are offset to one side. In any case I have found no evidence (yet) of racing on that "new" circuit. It has been used for recreational cycling and is cut at 2 points by a newer shared pedestrian/cyclepath. Had it been used by pushbikes then it would have made a rather nice criterium track indeed... curious that it seemingly was not used or maintained.
Bicycle track location (blue text) with runway/strip straight (red text):
Lastly, wheeled racing continues on the site with a BMX track (official or not!) to the north-east and an "on road" RC model car racing group coincidentally and slightly ironically using one of the tennis courts (on the runway/strip straight alignment) as a purpose-built race circuit.
- Whalan Park Plan of Management (Blacktown City Council, 2009) - PDF file
- More from Blacktown City Council
- The Racing Line - excellent pics and map
- Speedway and Road Race History - more pics and history but less informative about precise track location
- Aussie Road Racing - pics, maps and a video of the race track in 1953
- Silhouet.com - a large database of tracks and maps.
Further related reading on this site:
- List of any/all Sydney race tracks (motor, horse, pony or human-powered!): http://www.secretsofasydneypast.com/2008/07/sydneys-race-tracks-bikes-cars-even.html
- List of any/all Sydney airfields (some of which were raced on as well): http://www.secretsofasydneypast.com/2008/07/sydneys-airports-aerodromes-and.html