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Katoomba Showground - 1953 Christmas speedcar meeting

Discussion in 'The History Channel' started by Graham Clayton, Jul 9, 2008.

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  1. Graham Clayton

    Graham Clayton Registered

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    Here are some details of a speedcar meeting that was held at the Katoomba Showground as part of the 1953 Christmas Carnival. The unfortunate death of Peter "Lucky" Spaulding meant that this was the only time that a speedway meeting was held at the Showground. The Showground must have been one of the most dangerous and unsafe venues ever in the history of Australian speedway:

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  2. rockerbox

    rockerbox Platinum Member

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    Graham Keep this old info coming. I just love reading this stuff ,especially about the bloke I first became involved in speedway with. The late Eric Morton.
    Regards Allen King.
     
  3. leadfoot

    leadfoot Guest

    Graham, that's Len Brock standing alongside the car. He told me about that crash. Peter lost control at that bend and sailed out down the embankment. When he hit the trees, he literally broke a limb off the tree with his chest. I,m pretty sure that Brock ended up with the car.
     
  4. ken dorahy

    ken dorahy Registered

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    Bill, that car looks very similar to the one Brocky drove at Cumberland Oval in the early fifties. I think it was number 14.
     
  5. leadfoot

    leadfoot Guest

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    Not sure about #14, Ken but 48 seems to come to mind. The photo above is the pits at Katoomba. You can see the gully alongside of the cars, and part of the picket 'safety' fence. Thats Eric Morton's 24 midget and the #17 was Bob Playfair.
     
  6. leadfoot

    leadfoot Guest

    One for Rockerbox...Bill Shevill had a drive in Morton's car that fateful day. Shevill holds the Australian record of most feature race wins in a row....13.
     
  7. OOOPS

    OOOPS Registered

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    one of the joys of this site is the diamonds of speedcar history that leadfoot leaves us.

    Keep up the great work Bill it is appreciated by many.
     
  8. Darcy

    Darcy I'm Still Here!

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    i noticed that there were 3000 spectators there, most tracks today cant reach that.

    keep up the history flash back great work.
     
  9. leadfoot

    leadfoot Guest

    Thanks, oops. You never really know on here if anyone enjoys it or no interest at all. I just love all the history and all modern day drivers should know even just a little of the history of their sport.
     
  10. ken dorahy

    ken dorahy Registered

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    Yes Bill very interested, love that photo have you got any more like that. You would not be trying to tell us that is the racetrack this side of the telegraph pole would you. I am sure i was wrong and convinced that is not the car Len Brock drove at Cumberland Oval, the grill area is too high.

    Love the square drum behind Eric's white car (what happened) must of contained Shell A. Cannot see Bob Playfair in his blue and gold top, and that could not be Eric Morton doing up his sandshoe shoelace, can't see smoke from the cigarette and no leather jacket.
     
  11. Tornado 13

    Tornado 13 Registered

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    We really appreciate these interesting treasures of midget history that Graham has shared with us, and also thanks to Bill for filling in some of the blanks.

    I forwarded these articles to Phil McGee and Peter Nunn.

    Phil remembered the Katoomba race and Peter Spaulding's accident. He said that dad (Hedley) had built him an ignition system a few days before.

    Chris.
     
  12. leadfoot

    leadfoot Guest

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    Sorry, Ken, but yep, that is the track. Here's a photo of a race about to start. Cop the picket fence on the outside, and the horrible timber rails on the inside! And would you believe, the pit crews watching the race near the edge of the track in the background!
     
  13. ken dorahy

    ken dorahy Registered

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    Fantastic photo Bill, got anymore of this meeting. Any idea who the drivers are. Pleased to see that young child behind the "safety" fence. It's a wonder a lot more were not killed. Any idea how many cars started in the Butchers Picnic. Why did they use to call it that. Thanks Bill.
     
  14. speedway junkie

    speedway junkie Platinum Member

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    try the old boulder oval if you wanted to see unsafe but great racing
     
  15. leadfoot

    leadfoot Guest

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    I think this is the last one I have of Katoomba. Bob Playfair in #17, Norm Jackson in #2, Neil Hair was in #5 Eric and Bill Shevill in #24, Brock was driving #4, Tom Bradshaw was in the #13, Kev Bennett in the #3 Reg. Smutter in #11, and I think Ken Morton was driving the #8 car usually driven by Phil Cornish. That's some of the drivers who raced there that day. Don't know how many were in the Butcher's Picnic (feature race) and I think the name came from the Americans. Not sure.
     
  16. ken dorahy

    ken dorahy Registered

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    Another great shot, thanks Bill. Just a couple of points, it appears as though Peter Spaulding's passing is not mentioned in Jim Shepherds History of Australian Speedway and Neil Hair is recorded as passing on 4-1-1953.
    Thanks.
     
  17. Graham Clayton

    Graham Clayton Registered

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    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for your kind words. I would also like to thank Bill for sharing his wonderful photos as well.
     
  18. barndoor

    barndoor Registered

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    I would like to echo the thoughts of other posters here and thank Leadfoot for all of his input in this and other threads. Some of us were lucky enough to be a part of this great sport but, it never ceases to amaze me the depth of history that Bill seems to have at his fingertips.
    Leadfoot, when I look at the first photo that you posted on this thread, it strikes me that that photo may have been taken after the tragic accident. All the people appear to be standing around, waiting, and nothing is happening on the track or infield. It looks kind of somber.
    When you see how these guys raced it is amazing that so many of them survived that period, and for guys like Eric Morton and Len Brock just to name a couple, to succumb in the end to illness.
     
  19. COTR76

    COTR76 Registered

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    Just the thought of a Speedway meeting taking place at Katoomba showground is enough to raise the hairs on anyones back that has been there.. Excellent thread and photos. Although not directly Speedway related but Katoomba related I took a lap around Catalina park the other week. Like our Speedway drivers these men too must have had nerves of steel.
     
  20. leadfoot

    leadfoot Guest

    Thanks guys for your kind words, and glad you enjoy what we put up on here. Being club historian for so long helps. And you could be right, Scott. Every posibillity that the accident had already happened. We are very lucky, I suppose, that Katalina was our worst speedway we ran on in this country, and really, it wasn't even a speedway. While in America 3 years ago, I was delighted to be a visitor at the Indiana home of a gentleman called John Cooper. He put on a barbecue for us and invited Rollie Hemling the then president of USAC to meet us all. We sat and talked about old days, and he told us that at one old track in the mid west, they nailed the metal safety fence to the trees!
     

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