Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Smithfield Speedway

In early 1926 The Motor cycle club of SA had ambitious plans to build promote and run their own Speedway track in SA.
Speedway was up and running at showground’s and other venues around Australia but local riders had no tracks to race or practice on in Adelaide.

Reports indicate that some country unofficial speedway had been run in SA but to according to the News Reports at this time (1925-6) this was to be the first club run and promoted track in the world!
In June 1926, plans were drawn up by a club member and land was leased at Smithfield.

The exact location remains a mystery.  Newspaper reports say it is on the right-hand side of the Gawler Rd a little before Smithfield. This area now is called Elizabeth Downs.
Working bees were held over the next few months ploughing then rolling out the track.  The track measured one mile in length and 1½ chain wide with large run off areas.  Spectators could park their cars all the way around the track.
The Opening meeting was scheduled for October 13th a Wednesday (Public Holiday). Unfortunately due to bad weather the club made the last minute decision to postpone the opening meeting until Sat 16th October.  Despite this, the first meeting was a success with a crowd of 4-5000 people attending.

Planning commenced for the second meeting. Improvements such as stands a closed off pit area and refreshment booths were due to be finished before the second meeting.

It was planned to have an official practice session once a week unofficial practice was not allowed because before any practice or racing the cows that grazed in the paddock had to be moved!
In 1926 where the Smithfield Speedway was located it would have been a hot windy dry dusty plain,  although now it is a modern housing estate.
Dust became an issue as early as the second meeting and some ingenious methods were used to combat this, as the club president urged all members and garage owners to collect the old oil from working on motors and place it in a tanker at the Speedway. This tanker was then towed around the track depositing the oil followed by a roller.

This method although time consuming, worked well and had to be repeated before each meeting and they soon ran out of oil! On some particular race meetings with a northerly blowing and high, temperatures the conditions would have been almost unbearable.

Despite these consistent crowds of 4000 to 5000 were reported at each meeting.

Information taken from

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