Valvoline Raceway History.
Valvoline Raceway (formerly known as Parramatta Speedway, Parramatta City Raceway and Sydney Speedway) was the brainchild of former driver Sid Hopping and rose out of the ground to host its first practice session in January 1977. Sid was no newcomer to the sport and rode sidecars to great success in the sixties before trading in his leathers for a 16mm movie camera.
He shot all of the classics for television news and sports before taking up modified racing at which he truly excelled. From the Marshall Sargent Modified to his Jim Culbert CAE special, the dices between Garry Rush in the ex-Johnny Anderson Sprintcar and Sid Hopping were just superb. Sid and his partner Bert Wilder operated Parramatta City Raceway (as it was then known) as a Friday night venue for a decade.
The first feature race for Modified Sprintcars was won by Bob Blacklaw, and this new, emerging division of Sprintcars were soon to be the powerhouse at the Sydney venue. Sid and Bert sold their PCR interests to Bob Ruttley who made major improvements to the venue before selling out to Garry Rush who took on David Lander as a partner six months later.
In 1989 Lander took over PCR as a sole trader. David Lander introduced many innovations at the venue including Australia's first $50,000-to-win event and the first Australian Sprintcar event to be aired live on TV. Lander, a former Modified Sprintcar driver, sold the business to International Speedway Pty Ltd on May 15, 2001, headed by ex-pat Australian Brian Healey and American Bob Spence. Together with Managing director Steven Green, the international Speedway organisation achieved changed the face of Sprintcar racing when they took the bold but calculated move to introduce the American standard 410 cubic inch engines to Sprintcar competition. That was soon followed by the 'piece de resistance' the importing of the American national series, the World of Outlaws.
On Thursday, June 18, 2009, the speedway community was saddened to learn of the tragic news, that Brian Healey suffered a heart attack whilst at work in Sacramento, USA. A consortium of businessmen and Sprintcar owners - Garry Rush, Rod Bowen, the late Dennis Loudoun and Brett Morris collectively formed Sydney Speedway Pty Ltd and acquired the famed Sydney venue in November, 2009. They were joined by another ex-Sprintcar competitor and successful Monster Truck promoter Peter Attard.
On June 17th 2014 a new chapter begun when the Sydney Speedway shareholding was sold to prominent East Coast businessperson and Sprintcar team owner, Mr Barry Waldron. Mr Waldron has enticed former managing director Mr Steven Green to take the reins and lead the venue in to a new exciting era. Valvoline Raceway has hosted many national titles over the years, including the Australian Sprintcar Championship on five occasions: 1978, 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2008, where Garry Rush (1978 and 1992), Garry Brazier (1997 and 2008) and Max Dumesny (2002) were crowned the national champions.
The Australian Speedcar Championship has been held at Valvoline Raceway three times: 1988, 1994 and 2006, won respectively by Stephen Gall, Warrenne Ekins and American Davey Ray. Valvoline Raceway has also held the Australian Super Sedan Championship once, in 2003, claimed by Victorian Mick Nicola. The best in the world finally arrived at Australia's home of Sprintcar racing in the year 2004 when Valvoline Raceway hosted the first ever 'Outlaws Downunder'. It featured the famed World of Outlaws troupe including legends Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell as well as thirteen other American superstars. Parramatta Superstar Kerry Madsen took it to the world's best when he won both preliminary nights before 'The King of the Outlaws', Steve Kinser, won the Inaugural Outlaws Downunder.
The second Outlaws Downunder event was held at Valvoline Raceway on January the 13-15, 2005, in which a record twenty-four American and some forty-six Australian Sprintcars entered. Kerry Madsen repeated his feat of a year prior by claiming night one, with Danny 'The Dude' Lasoski winning night two, prior to Donny Schatz wrapping up the final night's celebrations. It was a Donny Schatz domination in 2006, winning both preliminary nights and the final night of Outlaws Downunder III. The legendary Steve Kinser claimed both opening nights of Outlaws Downunder IV in 2007, with Donny Schatz snaring the final night's glory. In 2008, the fifth and final version of the East Coast Pipeline Outlaws Downunder was run with the final night being won by Sydney's own Robbie Farr.
At the completion of the 2013/14 season Valvoline Raceway had amassed 1045 race meetings since its inception, which doesn't include the 227 washouts! Also a staggering 746 Sprintcar A-Main events have been recorded. Garry Rush has the most Sprintcar A-Main wins at Valvoline Raceway with 96 victories. At the completion of the 2013/14 season, Max Dumesny sits in second place with 44 wins followed by Brooke Tatnell in third with 39 wins. Donny Schatz sits in fourth with 36 wins, Robert Farr is next with 37 wins and Bob Blacklaw (33 wins), Garry Brazier (28), Kerry Madsen (26) and Bob Tunks (24) round out the top ten on the all-time winner's list. Over the years, a total of ninety-seven different American sprintcar drivers have raced at Valvoline Raceway.
Something that any other track in the world could only dream of Australia's biggest first prize for Sprintcars - the $50,000-to-win Sprintcar Classic - has only had four winners since the inaugural race in February, 2000: Donny Schatz, who has held up the winner's trophy on an amazing eight occasions, Joey Saldana and Steve Kinser on one occasion and by far, the most popular victor, Australian Ian Madsen on March 16, 2013. What made Madsen's win more impressive was from 2012, the $50,000-to-win race was changed into a $50,000 Challenge.
This allowed the highest pointscorer to elect to start from position nineteen and if they won, they pocketed the $50,000 first prize. Wayne Fisher set the very first one-lap Sprintcar record on December 9, 1977 with a time of 16.70 seconds. Today, the one lap record is held by American Cody Darrah with a time of 11.564 seconds set on January 7, 2011.
Wayne Fisher set the very first one-lap record on December 9, 1977 with a time of 16.70 seconds. Today, the one lap record is held by American Cody Darrah with a time of 11.564 seconds set on January 7, 2011.