Phakisa Freeway

The Phakisa Freeway (Phakisa means “hurry up” in Sotho!) is an international standard, multi-purpose motorsport facility situated in the heart of the Goldfields region of the Free State. Construction of the facility commenced in September 1998, on the site of the old Goldfields Raceway. By late April 1999 the circuits and paddock facilities had been completed and the first National Race event was held a mere 6 months after work had started. The entire facility was completed in time for the penultimate leg of the 1999 FIM Motorcycle Grand Prix held at the circuit on 10th October 1999.

The track boasts a 4,24km road course as well as a 1,5 mile banked oval track similar to the highly acclaimed Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada. The Grand Prix road course was designed in conjunction with officials of the FIM and is rated as one of the safest circuits on the GP tour. It is 12m wide throughout and has 14 turns, 5 left and 9 right-hand. Although the straights are relatively short and the top speed is slower than on many tracks, the circuit has no chicanes, which makes for a fast and flowing ride.

On his first visit to the circuit in late 1999, Alex Barros rated the fast right-hander at the end of the back straight as the best in Grand Prix bike racing! After taking to 500cc crown in the 2001 South African MotoGP, Valentino Rossi said “I love this place – it is one of the most demanding racetracks in the world, and you have to be brave to win here.”

Background to Phakisa Freeway

Phakisa Major Sport Events and Development Corporation is an initiative of the Free State government. In September 1998 construction began on the corporation’s flagship, the Phakisa Freeway. Anglogold lent significant assistance by contributing vast amounts of fill material for the construction of this super raceway on the site of the old Goldfields race track at Welkom.

Phakisa means “Get Moving” in Sotho and that’s exactly what the developers did. Construction of two magnificent tracks, a Formula I flat circuit and an Super Speedway Oval, began in September 1998 and were built In a matter of only 8 months. In May 1999 an inaugural race was held at the new world-class facility and the track met all the expectations of its designers. Work continued on the buildings, other race facilities as well as stands and embankments and just 5 months later, on 10 October, 1999, one of the world’s great motor sport spectacles, a Grand Prix of the World Motorcycle Championships took place at Phakisa. A first for the Free State – a first for South Africa!

Phakisa has since been the venue for numerous local and national racing events. It has been the site of five World Grand Prix’s, in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. The track has also drawn international motor vehicle manufacturers who have found Phakisa to be a top-flight testing track. MotoGP, organisers of the World Grand Prix circuit, the riders, their retinues and sponsors have pronounced Phakisa, along with its staff and facilities, to be a superb venue and rate the track as one of the best in the world.

Track Statistics

Length : 4,242m Width : 12m Longest straight : 413m Shortest straight : 36m Shortest radius corner : 40m Elevation difference : 6,3m Elevation above sea-level : 1350m Geographical co-ordinates : 27054′ south 26043′ east

Track facts and figures

  • The Formula I/MotoGP track: 4.2 kilometres, with a maximum width of 12 metres, 5 left hand corners and 9 right hand corners. The longest straight (the back straight ) is 412,185 metres.
  • The Super Speedway Oval: 1,5 miles (2.5 kilometres ) in circumference, the Phakisa Oval is one of only five such tracks in the world outside of the USA.
  • The “Up and Down” circuit: There is also a 2.4 kilometre track comprising part of the flat track and part of the Super Speedway Oval. This circuit is similar to the one that is raced on by Formula I at Indianapolis – the mecca of USA motor racing.
  • The “Short” track: There is also a 2,42 km short track, with a maximum width of 12 m and 3 right-hand corners. Phakisa has a fully integrated CCTV system with 18 trackside cameras used to monitor every inch of the circuit and provides the most up-to-date technical installations for international television.

Visitor’s facilities

The track has the capacity to cater for upwards of 60,000 spectators on its grand stands and embankments. There are 20 corporate suites with excellent views of the track. 200 plus journalists from all over the world converge on the state-of-the-art media centre to report on the races to fans around the globe. Safe fenced parking areas for more than 15,000 cars is available adjacent to the track. Camping sites and barbecue areas are available during large events. There is plenty of accommodation in and around Welkom and the town, with a population of 50,000, has many good restaurants and other amenities for visitors.

More than a Racetrack

  • Phakisa can also provide excellent facilities for many other kinds of events happening in the Goldfields area including:
  • A soccer field with a 4 000 seat grand stand suitable not only for sport but other outdoor events as well.
  • An air-conditioned conference venue, which can accommodate 50 to 200 guests.
  • An A-la-Carte Restaurant and Take-Away catering for visitors during events and social functions. There are 2100 sq metres under roof, which can accommodate a large variety of sports, games and functions.