Not a day goes by that we aren’t reminded just how strict Australia’s road rules are, how mercilessly the police enforce them and, how arguably draconian our speed limits are in a modern world. And that raises the question – what’s the point of having cars that can comprehensively obliterate the national speed limit without even breaking a sweat?
One simple answer is that fast cars still make a lot of sense to many even when they aren’t going fast. There is an immense amount of enjoyment to be had piloting a high-performance car within the speed limit. Sonorous exhaust notes, blistering acceleration, sharp handling and athletic road-holding can all be appreciated when on the right road in the correct conditions.
But what you might not know is that there are a number of ways you can smash the national speed limit in Australia without jeopardising your licence at all. It takes a little more planning than simply jumping in your car and hitting the loud pedal, but here’s how you can get the thrill of going fast legally.
Track days can be a cost-effective way of getting behind the wheel of your own car on a real racing circuit – without speed limits.
As a bare minimum, all you need is a roadworthy car that’s well maintained, current driver’s license and the track fee.
There’s a bit more to it in terms of preparation but with a little homework and reading up, you could be rolling out on the circuit to see what your car can really do when it’s let off the leash.
Advanced driving course
If you don’t like the idea of pushing the limits on a track in your own car, then perhaps an advanced driving course is your preferred route to legal high speeds. There is a multitude of driving courses available all over Australia for different abilities of drivers and all of them provide use of a car as part of the deal.
This obviously drives up the cost of participation but at least you’ll know you are getting in a car that’s correctly maintained for the purpose of driving fast. It may also be necessary to complete a few mandatory rudimentary courses before graduating to high-performance cars and the higher speeds, but you’ll be honing your car-control skills every step of the way.
Circuit racing on a shoestring
If a taste of the track has left you wanting more, a little competitive fast driving might be what’s missing from your automotive life.
Motorsport is never a cheap pastime in any of its forms, but it can be hugely rewarding and fun, and many amateur racers see the investment as wholly worthwhile.
Karting is one cheap entry point but that might not satisfy a need for speed, so the more cost-effective end of circuit racing such as the Excel Cup might be just the thing. Okay, so 1.4-litre Korean hatchback might not be the height of high-octane pedigree motorsport, but it’s a very simple way to getting in some fast laps with minimal commitment.
Still not enough pace? How about drag racing? This relatively simple form of motorsport might seem as daunting as it is fast, but there are countless classes and categories to find a way in and onto the long stretch of asphalt.
Like track days, many drag strips offer ‘off-street’ meetings where curious participants can participate in virtually anything street legal and put in a ‘pass’. If that lights a fire in your tyres, it’s not a big step up to competitive drag racing thanks to the numerous classes.
Street Machine’s Drag Challenge is a great event for the speed-hooked, allowing competitors the opportunity to race on a different drag strip every day for five days, as well as the adventure of driving their competition car between each location!
As a bonus, you’ll also get to do a big burnout before each run – something else you can get slapped with a fine for enjoying on public roads.
Dry Lake racing
Still not fast enough!? For the ultimate speed experience on Australian soil (or salt), the Dry Lake Racers Association is about as fast as you can go on home turf.
Each year, drivers chasing some dizzying figures culminate at Lake Gairdner in South Australia for Speed Week, in an incredible show of diverse vehicles with outrageous power outputs.
There’s certainly no cheap way to roll out on the salt with the cost of modifying a vehicle to comply with safety regulation and the unique engineering challenges, but you won’t go faster Down Under.
Take a trip up north
Or if all that seems too involved, daunting or just too complicated, you could head to the Northern Territory, where four stretches of road allow the highest permissible speed on a public byways in the country.
Previously, the NT has offered sections of highway with no speed limits at all, and the various roads are still the subject of conjecture and controversy. More than one car manufacturer grabbed the opportunity to unleash seriously high-performance cars on the road, but the party didn’t last long, with limits reimposed shortly after.
Read next: The history of Australia’s unlimited roads
130km/h might not sound too exciting, but it might be all you need to get something out of your system, or perhaps it will ignite a quest for more.
Whatever your high-speed aspirations, there’s a way to get there and back safely, legally and with a smile on your dial.