The late Jim Shepherd ( 1933 - 2013) was a highly respected Australian Sports Historian, ex Sydney Showground Speedway Commentator and was Patron of the Veteran Speedway Riders Association of Australia. I would like to thank Jim for his input on "Vintagespeedway" via some of his favourite photos, some being published here for the first time.
Thank you Jim.
An extremely rare photo, a photo that has rarely been published in it's entirety.
The scene is Wembley Stadium, England 1936. The controversial run off for the World Solo Title has just been won by Aussie Lionel Van Praag from England's Eric Langton and Aussie A.G."Bluey" Wilkinson. "Bluey" Wilkinson the was moral victor on the night as he was unbeaten on the night, but because of a complicated bonus points system then in use was placed only third. Arhur Elvin ( later to become Sir Arthur ) is on the right. Elvin was the Managing Director of the Wembley Stadium.
The Melbourne ( Victoria ) Motordrome was another of the early 1920s circuits. The original site is now covered by the Olympic Park stadium. Few existing photographs indicate the steepness of this highly dangerous speedbowl. This one does !. The two men in the picture are probably visiting motorcycle racers trying not to look nervous !
The Olympia Speedway in the southern Sydney suburb of Maroubra, opened in 1925 as a high banked concrete motordrome. It was, to put it mildly, a peculiar shape, but big and fast enough to be lapped by solo motorcycles and a couple of cars in excess of 100mph ( 160 KPH ). This is what it looked like from the air. Anzac Parade on the left of the cicuit and Fitzgerald Avenue at the top.
A rare photograph of Newcastle's half mile, high banked track Hamilton Speedway which opened in 1926. The track only lasted a couple of seasons and the site is now buried on the corner of Hassal and Darling Sts, south of Broadmeadow racecourse. A spectator was killed and 18 others injured when a car went through the flimsy looking safety fence at the opening meeting.
Maroubra again. America's Cecil Brown ( left) was one of the 100 mph lap men and local rider Kevin Carmody ( right ) wasn't far behind.
Anybody like to try it today on one of these machines ?
Tempe ( NSW ) mud flats.
Most Aussie veteran Speedway fans have heard of Sydney's Tempe mud flats, where so many motorcycle riders and speedcar drivers learned the art of power sliding. Photographs are few and far between. Here's a beauty from 1939. Norm Jackson ( without helmet ! ) has a spin in Jack Daley's famous midget # 5
And here's the Daly car again with Bill Reynolds at the wheel at the Sydney Sports Ground in 1945.
The midget is rigged up with "rockets" for a demonstration run. Note a few of the modifications from the previous photo, including the lowering of the steering wheel.
Reynolds , an Englisman, has Daly's helmet on , with the US flag on it. Daly was billed as an American, but was actually born in Australia.
An unusual shot of Kev Gallaher in Eddie Dark's No.1 twin at the Sydney Sports Ground in 1946.
What is Kev reaching for with his left hand.?
Kev, also an accomplished Sidecar rider, lost his life in a Speedcar at the Sydney Showground Speedway on 7.10.1949.
How not to drive midgets !
Another unusual shot from the Sydney Sports Ground in the brave ( or foolish ?) days.
Jim McMahon and Bill Balgownie in 1939 out for a few warm up laps. Neither are wearing helmets.
McMahon lost his life in a midget in the U.S.
These photographs and a few hundred more are to be included in Jim Shepherd's forthcoming
" History of Australian Speedway" book.
Thank you Jim for the use of these very historic photos on "Vintagespeedway "....Brian.