Grand Prix racing is ingrained in the Australian motorcycling landscape. But that can be sheeted home to one man, and a fabulous track.

Phillip Island. Iconic, rated amongst the greatest tracks on the planet.

Hard to believe that is was playing host to cows and all but overgrown after falling into disrepair during the seventies. That was until the place was purchased by Placetac Pty Ltd in 1985, with a view to circuit renovation.

Things gained momentum when Barfield Pty Ltd, led by engineer and promoter, Bob Barnard, was awarded a round of the world motorcycle championship.

How the conglomerate convinced the powers that be to commit to the huge undertaking of sending the world’s greatest to the other side of the planet is a little beyond us, but there you have it.

Barfield was granted a lease on the land and began restoration of the track and facilities in 1988.

The renovations were completed in 1989 at a cost of three million dollars (which sounds remarkably cheap today, doesn’t it?), just in time to host Australia’s first 500cc World Championship round on April 6-9. The timing was sublime.

Aussies were taken with the exploits of local rider Wayne Gardner overseas and the opportunity to see the 1987 world champion up close and personal was the perfect drawcard to instigate interest in the whole grand prix experience Down Under.

In fact, 90,000 fans made the trip to see Gardner bravely win the race from the hugely talented Wayne Rainey.

Yep, GP racing had seriously arrived in Australia, but would it have gained the sort of momentum here that it subsequently did without the brilliance of Gardner?

We’ll never know, but there’s no doubt that we owe Wayne a big vote of respect.

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