Published on September 5th, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Batu Tiga Race Circuit Is Dearly Missed
Batu Tiga was the real ‘Saturday Night Fever’ location week after week.
Politics in our country is no different like it is in Africa, America or Afghanistan. Leaders either make decisions based on advice from people looking to fill their pockets or to fill the pockets of their relatives.
This is why my children, my nephews and even some of my younger cousins will never understand the ‘magic’ of a weekend venue like the ‘Batu Tiga’ race circuit.
This was where motor racing dreams became a reality and children honored their mothers as they stood on the winning podium week after week holding up their ‘cheap and tacky’ trophies that were sourced from the basement shops of Pertama Complex or from one of the shops along Jalan Masjid India.
Yes, there was once a race circuit at Batu Tiga, Shah Alam right alongside the highway and it was a highly respected and admired circuit by Malaysians, Singaporeans and even the occasional racer from the south of the Kingdom of Thailand.
Today, it is partially developed with mostly empty shop-houses, a gated community with rundown looking homes and a condominium project. The remaining land is covered with tall grass waiting for the uncle down the road to bring his cows to graze and it is mostly a home to rats.
So what happened to Batu Tiga Race Circuit? Well, the idea was ‘pushed’ to have an International Race Circuit built in Sepang to bring MotoGP, Formula 1, AFOS, TCR Asia and more international races to Malaysia which will boost tourism, development, nation image overseas and the bank balance of selected individuals.
This project would need the attention of weekend racers and the crowds that parked themselves at the Batu Tiga Race Circuit 52 weeks every year. So, it was decided that the Batu Tiga Race Circuit would be closed and sold to an individual who would then resell and fatten his pockets to a property developer as the Batu Tiga Race Circuit was located right by the Federal Highway and in a prime fast expanding housing area.
The idea was simple. With the forced closure of the Batu Tiga Race Circuit, the racers, teams, spectators will be ‘forced’ to fill up the new world class race circuit at Sepang.
Today, the Sepang Circuit is well known around the globe and every month (pre-Covid) the circuit is booked out for track days (for the rich), tyre testing, MotoGP machine testing, race car testing, brake system test, small races, car launch events and more. It is well managed (we are being very nice here) and has a track and layout that is respected globally. Yes, they did a good job building the track.
However, the true ‘Saturday Night Fever’ was lost with the closure of the Batu Tiga Race Circuit because the Sepang circuit is NOT cheap to rent for drivers and teams and spectators have to drive a minimum of 45 to 60 minutes to get to the circuit, pay a hefty toll charge (a dinner for two) and have little access to see the whole race at the large Sepang circuit.
Today, we only go to Sepang when really needed because of distance, time and costs. When the Batu Tiga Race Circuit was running, it was just a 15-minute drive, no toll and very easy viewing across the whole circuit to watch the ‘wheel to wheel’ action and the many fender benders.
Imagine this. Saturday evening, sitting at the stalls in Bangsar sipping tea with friends and bored, suddenly someone suggests ‘aiya, lets go to Batu Tiga Race Circuit and see what’s happening la’. We pay our bill, get into our cars and just 15 minutes later we are smelling burning rubber and watching the many ‘hot chicks’ parading along the spectator stands.
So, in not so many words, the Batu Tiga Race Circuit was the ‘sacrificial lamb’ to ensure the success of Sepang Circuit. Meanwhile, a lot of potentially great racing talent, engineering wizards and ‘eye candy’ was lost when the Batu Tiga Race Circuit closed as they moved on to live their life at a boring desk job. (We say this because we know of many former racers, team managers and even mechanics who gave up weekend racing due to the higher costs and lack of small sponsors who loved the crowds at Batu Tiga). Yes, racing at Batu Tiga had sponsors lining up to get the attention of the crowd.
We miss it and the current and next generation will never know what was the real Saturday Night Fever’!
Batu Tiga Race Circuit Track Details.
Total Area: 143 acres
No. of Pits: 57 units, 42 units concrete pit (22’ x 17’), 15 units of wooden pits (22’ x 7’)
Spectator capacity: Covered grandstand – 8000, Uncovered grandstand – 18,000
Track length: 3.5km
No. of Turns: 14. With Left -5 and Right -9
Straights: 3. The longest straight was 600 meters.
Gate Entrances: 3
Pictures sourced from ‘The Fans Of Shah Alam Circuit’ Facebook page.