Hot Rods in Speedway

In the early 1950s sedan cars on Speedway  started to leave their footprint when we saw the introduction of Stock Car Racing . Sedans straight off the street or better direct from the wreckers yard. Cars were fitted with roll cages bars and all sorts of protective armour. and they needed all the protection they could weld on to the chassis. The main purpose was to roll, smash and put the opposition out of the race . Massive rollovers , huge crashes and wild spins made for out of this world crazy excitement .Changes had to be made if only for the safety of drivers and eventually we have the friendly fender benders of today.

Stock Car

Stock car crash

Stock car racing saw the birth of legionary racing families .The Tatnall Family and the Braziers with Brooke and Garry among the best Sprint Car drivers in Australia today.

Stock Cars became Stock Rods and many years ago,too many to remember my brother and I entered our 1934 Ford Coupe for races at Westmead . Bright red number 31 with sponsorship from the Forest BP  Service Station  Arncliffe. The sponsorship was fuel, big deal to us and of course we had a Champion Spark Plug sticker on the car , yes we received our Spark Plugs., sort of cash for comment !

A very smart car with a locked diff and big winter tread tyres.and a good old Ford flat head V860 with Edelbrock heads., we were on the money. .

Old Day Photo's 008_crp

Racing at Westmead with the red 31 Ford in front, as it should be.

Things change quickly in motor sports and the favorite cars of the time were Fords and the old Hudson Terraplanes with their straight 8 .All the drivers young and old had the one goal, more speed and better handling . I remember Freddie Otten , hard charger in his Terraplane and it was a handful .


Fred in his quest for speed started to rebuild the old no 12 Terraplane in his fathers work shop in Hurstville. . Mr Otton was the Fiat dealer in Hurstville and with help from his hard working underpaid team,who got paid in those days anyway, created the Fiat Special and then dominated the shows at Westmead.. With the big straight 8 , light weight body it went like a rocket and to ever one’s  surprise it went the way Fred pointed it, huge relief. .

Otten Rod

A fantastic car even by today standards , classy .As the class become faster the desires of the racers for more speed continued . Strong influences from the US had a dramatic change and the era of the super modified started to emerge . Local rivers developed their own chassis and the choice of power moved from the flat heads and straight eight to the bigger , lighter and more powerful overhead cam Ford and Chev V8s..Visiting Americans like Marshall Sargent , Larry Burton and Garry Patterson brought monsters to race our boys.

Marshall Sargent Super mid

From this point on the Super Modified car was being built across Australia with names like McCubbin , Britton and Warner . They raced at Tracey Speedway in Victoria,  Rowley Park in Adelaide and both the Sydney and Brisbane showground Speedways.70 sprinters

The early era of Sprint Cars had begun with Garry Rush taking the drive in the first sprinter to arrive in Australia the Johnnie Andersen car. The Master Blaster as he became known was an immediate success and the foundation for his fabulous career had been set..

70sRush Andersen sprinter

The Sprint car today :46288

While I remember with great fondness those early cars the thrill one gets from a Sprint Car event will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. The sight of 20 odd cars thundering down the straight into that first corner, drivers doing their best to tame these howling cars that are likely to step out or hit a rut at any time . You have gotta get to a Speedway now!

Old Day photos are courtesy of   David Batten’s Old Time Speedway web site .

Share Button

Leave a Reply