SYDNEY SPEEDWAY HISTORY – AND INDUSTRY – ON THE LINE
The demolition of Valvoline Raceway threatens to wipe out almost 100 years of speedway history in Sydney.
Eleven high profile tracks are the statistic – tracks that have come and gone since the early 20s.
As each venue fell by the wayside, there was never a replacement. In some cases the ground remained and was used for other sports, while some Sydney sporting venues that hosted speedway racing were demolished for industry or residential.
But the sport continued uninterrupted as tracks were plentiful. The 42 year Valvoline Raceway clings to history in its fight for survival as the only remaining circuit in Sydney.
Between the 40s and 60s when speedway went through its biggest growth period, five tracks operated.
The Moore Park Sydney Showground (1926 –1996) became one of the most famous speedway tracks in the world during its 70-year existence before demolished to make way for Fox Studios.
This was the Mecca of Australian speedway and for many years enjoyed massive popularity.
Penrith Speedway (1924-1941) was another immensely popular race facility before the Commonwealth Department acquired the land.
Maroubra Speedway (1925-1947) attracted incredible following in its early years prior to NSW Housing Commission rezoning for residential development.
Wentworth Park Speedway (1928-1936) was the site of Sydney’s first speedcar race on October 5, 1935.
After speedway, the facility served as a popular greyhound racing circuit.
Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium was formerly Cumberland Oval Speedway (1930-1959).
The Moore Park Sydney Sports Ground Speedway (1937-1955) that later became Sydney Football Stadium, was adjacent the Sydney Showground.
The two tracks operated together, Sports Ground Friday nights, Sydney Showground speedway Saturday nights.
Other notable speedway race grounds etched into history are Henson Park Speedway (1945), Windsor Speedway (1949 – 1968), Westmead Speedway (1956 – 1968), Bankstown Speedway (1957-58) and Liverpool City Raceway (1967 -1989).
Westmead Hospital today stands on the former Westmead Speedway site.
Speedway is a multi million dollar industry and its potential Sydney extinction eliminates race car manufacturers, tyre, fuel and parts suppliers, engine builders and uniform clothing manufacturers. However, the loss of VR spans even significantly greater dimensions and cuts deeper.
We are talking four generations of people with a speedway heritage and involvement, overall attendance figures over 100,000 as well. A total of 116 properties will be demolished to make way for the metro West rail link.
While it’s very sad those householders will lose their property (some have occupied their homes for over 50 years), the loss of VR extends far beyond those unfortunate people.
The VR acquisition impacts thousands upon thousands of people – their business financial income flow, employment and lifestyle choices.
It’s more than the loss of a speedway it’s the disintegration of an industry.