Current Students

Old track races again with HIT Lab technology


A Launceston-based second year Bachelor of Arts student with a flair for computing has created a virtual simulation of the historic Longford motor racing circuit.

Shannon Woolley, 26, built the 3D simulation in his spare time, recreating every detail of the Tasmanian track which was a racing hotspot during the 1950s and 60s.

Mr Woolley is majoring in Human Interface Technology through the school of Computing and Information Systems.

In its heyday, motor racing at Longford was enormously popular, with greats like Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, John Surtees and Bruce McLaren all having competed there.

According to former driver Mike McIvor, the track was an extremely dangerous one, with some vehicles reaching speeds of more than 180 miles per hour.

Both Mr McIvor and former Longford Motor Racing Association secretary Ian Carins said they were stunned by the level of detail in the simulation, when they saw it in action recently at the HITLab.

The simulator project took more than 18 months to complete, with Mr Woolley often working up to 16 hours a day in his spare time to finish it.

Since releasing the virtual track online, it has been downloaded more than 10,000 times by racing simulator enthusiasts around the world.

“I didn’t know much about the Longford race circuit until I started researching it,” Mr Woolley said.

 “I had to do a lot of research – I found a website that had several hundred photos of Longford from the race weekends back then and that was crucial. There was also a book floating around the library which I found useful, along with a few videos.”

While Mr Woolley did the majority of the work on the track himself, he said he had also received help from Longford racing enthusiasts and members of the online racing community.

HIT Lab Interim Co-Director of Management Daniel Rolf said Mr Woolley’s project showed how flexible the HITLab’s technology could be.

“For example, instead of requiring expensive, dedicated equipment for ship or flight simulators the VisionSpace can be used as part of a configurable environment to satisfy multiple uses,” Dr Rolf said.

“You are seeing this as a motor racing track but there is no reason why different periods of history cannot be recreated like this.

“Here you are driving a car, but it could be anything – an aeroplane, a ship, you name it.

“It is an interactive way of immersing yourself in history, getting a sense of what a place was like, what a certain time was like.”

Published on: 11 Nov 2010 4:34pm