Potholes and paddocks to the “Park” Volume 2: 1950 – 1963

OUR MOTORCYCLING HISTORY: 1950 – 1963 inclusive

In the first few years of the 1950s enthusiasm was still very high and Scrambles, Beach Racing, Speed Trials, Observed and Long-Distance Trials were very popular. Big crowds were attending State Titles held at Bucks Hill and local members were achieving quite good results both here and away

Now well established the Mount Gambier Motor Cycle and Light Car Club turned their thoughts once again to road racing. In the early 1950s several Club members including Laurie and Bruce Fox, Ron Hellyer Jim Sutherland and Frank McNamara, John Wilkinson, Bruce Pederick Maurie von Einem, Lance Harris et al were having to travel either to South Australian road race events such as Woodside, Lobethal and Port Wakefield or to interstate road race tracks at Fishermen’s Bend, Flinder’s Naval Base, Ballarat’s Victoria Park and even to Bathurst NSW.  Frank McNamara was a very enthusiastic motorcycle racer and caused quite a bit of excitement when he imported the first genuine road race machine into Mount Gambier- a Factory Manx Norton 600cc racing machine to which a Tilbrook sidecar was fitted.

McNamara and his brother-in-law Colin McCarthy had purchased a 40-acre scrub block west of Mount Gambier which had some worked out Limestone quarries among the heavy scrub growth.  In late 1951 the Club was invited to inspect the block and three members, Laurie Fox, Harry Vause and Maurie von Einem went out with Frank McNamara (also a Club member) to have a look at the possibility of establishing their very own road race circuit.  It looked a very daunting task for such a very small Club, but Frank who ran a successful earth moving business, offered the Club the chance to lease the land on generous terms and conditions and to help with machinery to get the project started.

Laurie Fox drew a mud map of a circuit based on Cadwell Park in the UK and sometime between that day and an inspection by interested Club members in March 52 Frank roughed out a rough circuit using one of his converted WW2 General Stuart tanks based on Laurie’s idea. A report was presented at a general meeting and the decision was made to proceed.

Work commenced using very basic equipment and lots of manual work and consequently enthusiasm waned at time given the size of the task and the small number of members involved. However, Frank McNamara again assisted by offering a disused General Stuart Tank which was recommissioned by mechanically skilled Club members, and this was put to great use in clearing and then forming the circuit.

In April 1952 Mount Gambier Motor Cycle and Light Car Club were admitted to the Western Centre competition based in Western Victoria and members were mixing it with the best in that region. Buck’s Hill had still been popular although some members did think the public were losing interest and the death of the landowner later in the year spelled the end of Scrambles there.

Mount Gambier Motor Cycle and Light Car Club had more emerging stars especially in the Sidecar ranks. The previously mentioned local outfit riders were joined by Ian Hogg, Alec Campbell and later John Smith and they continued to impress in both road racing and dirt track events.

During the racetrack project over the next ten years, the Club conducted, and members still competed in Club events such as Observed Trials, Road trials and Scrambles and in the late 1950s introduced Night Scrambles attempting to raise more funds to achieve their road race circuit dream.

A Speedway event organised at Puralka, on a roughly formed track just over the Victorian border, was followed by participation at the first Borderline Speedway event on Feb 23, 1957.

The first road race was held at McNamara Park 13 July 1958 albeit on the now formed but unsealed limestone race circuit and contested only by local Club members.

The first road race on the sealed circuit was at Easter 1962 and although very well received, the surface of the track was not due to the coarseness of the finish, and it was not until January the following year that the next meeting was held on a resealed track.

These events and occurrences are covered comprehensively in this Volume, the information gained from interviewing Laurie Fox, Harry Vause and Maurie von Einem, other remaining Club members involved in the project and researching many documents including Club minute books and newspapers from the day.

Volume 2 is 330 pages and contains approx. 270 good quality photos, most of them of local motorcyclists in action with another 30 illustrations such as period adverts etc. included. These books are printed in Australia on good quality paper.

To order a copy of this book, please go to our Order Page.

volume 2
Alan Adamson leaves Hellyers Garage
Harry Vause speedway
Maurie von Einem AJS
Laurie Fox on triumph

Author

  • Colin R Thompson

    Colin is a self confessed motor cycle tragic who bought his first motor cycle in the 1950s. He began racing outfits in Scrambles in the early 1960s with quite a bit of success. Following his move to Mount Gambier in 1972, he soon became involved with the local motor cycling fraternity and so began his interest in the history of motor cycling in the South East, especially at "Mac Park". This ultimately led to the publication of the two volumes of "Potholes and paddocks to the Park". Colin has done several Charity Fundraising events with a Powerpoint on the contents of the books for organisations such as Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, Queensland Flood Relief, Movember, RFDS and Cancer SA. One is being planned to assist Lifeline. Check out this site for future events.He still has a couple of motor cycles and always a project on the go.