This is where my Speedway interest all started for me - 1953 Sydney Sportsground Speedway.
That's me aged 12 years in 1954 - standing on two house bricks so I could see over the fence.
My brother Garry on my left. That was real Speedway viewing - right on the fence ! You could nearly touch the riders and drivers. This photo is 1954 - Irish Speedcar driver Fay Taylour in Johnny Peers' # 12 V860 (John leaning over cockpit) . Speedcar official for many years Ron Johnson with foot on rear wheel. ..... A Frank Le Breton Photo.
MY HISTORY AND INTERESTS IN AUSTRALIAN MOTOR SPORTS
and the AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY.
Garry and I attended many many Speedway meetings at many different venues over the following years.
Sydney Showground - Cumberland Oval Parramatta - Brisbane Exhibition ( Qld.) - Tracey's ( Vic.)- Windsor RSL - Westmead .
This is the first Speedcar / driver combination I ever saw as an 11 year old . Allan Marshall and his restored original old # 26 Jeep Special. This photo shot in 1996 at Maitland Showground. I got to know Allan well in later years.
My Grandfather, seen here with his 1929 Erskine, was responsible for my interest in cars and mechanics.
He was a brilliant designer and manufacturer.
I started my career in the Automotive Industry as an Apprentice Motor Mechanic in 1958 with racing car driver Holt Binnie at the Mobil Garage 99 Military Rd., Neutral Bay. Holt ran an MG Special ( as above) and later an MGTF with a grey Holden engine and his last race car was The Gladiator, a Holden engined Buchanan Sports Special.
I worked on many great race & sports cars while with Holt.
I learnt to drive on the Morris Oxford Ute shown in the photo.
I shot this photo ( with my Kodak Box Brownie) of Jack Brabham with his Cooper HRD at Mt Druitt in 1953.
I was 11 years old then and Ronny Ward got Jack to sign it for me many years later.
My first car a 1929 Erskine 6 as a back yard 'paddock basher '. The Erskine ran the Studebaker 6 engine.
My first road car. A 1953 FX Holden.
My Mother actually bought it.
I was only earning £ 6 per week.
When the Gladiator went to 1 1/2" SUs it's old 1 1/4" SUs went on to my Holden car.
In 1961 I was offered a job with Leaton Mtrs. They ran the Lotus 15 and the D-type Jaguar.
Along with regular servicing of Simca, Chrysler and Sports Cars I got to do a bit on the 15 and D-type.
At the end of 1961 I transferred back to the Mobil at Neutral Bay - this time working as Apprentice to Ray Eldershaw. Again working on some great race cars, Lotus, Lola , Holdens, Jaguars & Sports cars along with general automotive repairs. I learnt a lot about tuning SU carburettors with Ray.
When the old Mobil property was sold in 1962 Ray and I moved to Brookvale to Des Leonard's Shell garage . Ray also hired me out to work with Jimmy Wilkinson, a top man and innovator in gas flowing cylinder heads.
I learnt a lot from Jim.
Ray and I ended up at the Caltex Garage at Eastwood
servicing Rootes Group cars along with general servicing. Then I got a phone call from Frank Matich - he said would you like come and finish your time with me ? ...........and I did.
In 1963 after the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm with the Brabham I left Frank's employ. I was 21 and wanted a little more out of life than just race cars. Frank said, ( in a nice manor ) " it's race cars or girls ! "
After I left I worked in the Shell garage at Kogarah ( near where I lived ). I went there to fill in for 2 weeks and stayed 18 months.
After the Shell I was accepted for a position of Experimental Technician in the Experimental workshop of the British Motor Corporation at Zetland.( 1965 - 66)
In this position I was a Durabilty Test Driver ( driving a road course of 253 miles a day )
of BMC and comparison cars and carried out all types of test procedures on proto type and pre production cars in the workshop and on the road.
After a couple of years at BMC I was bored and decided I'd like to be a Rep on the road in Automotive Spares and Accessories. I had an interview at the old Sydney firm of Smith Sons & Rees and was accepted and started as a Rep at the Parramatta branch. I went well on the road but couldn't get used to it so I went back to twirling the spanners for a while at the Ampol S/Stn. at Guildford.
Went from that Ampol into Automotive Spares van sales with Lucas Battery Co at Belfield, did well there and was offered a similar postition with Anderson Auto Supplies Hurtstville. Later offered the position of Assistant Sales Manager at Motor Traders P/L in the City to start as a Sales Rep at the Canterbury branch. I did well as the Rep and later took over as Branch Manager at Canterbury.( Photos above after merger of Traders and Smith Sons ) Got the branch up on budget but I had had enough so I went into business in van sales on my own - Darby Auto Spares for the next three years. Pic of my E20 Nissan van. (left)
So in mid 1962 I started with Frank Matich at the Total Service Station at Punchbowl. I worked on Sports cars, Jaguars and general repairs along with getting to work on the Lotus 19 Monte Carlo, the F1 Brabham BT7A and the three Elfins, the Junior, the 1500 and the Clubman. We had some fabulous cars through the garage at times including the XKSS D-type and Zagato Aston Martin belonging to one of Frank's sponsors, Laurie O'Neil. After an altercation with the Pit fence at Warwick Farm in practice one day we re built the Lotus 19 into the 19B. New body and chassis from England and blue in colour. In 1963 we moved to a workshop at Peakhurst and working with Bruce Richardson, Graham Matich we just had the race cars to look after. So I became one of only 5 full time professional race car mechanics in Australia at the time. Later in 1963 I was given the responsibilty of preparing a Renault R8 for Frank and George Murray to drive at Bathurst in the 1963 Armstrong 500. We drove up in the car, practiced , raced on Sunday and drove home on the Monday. In the race the Renault was out classed by the Mini
Cooper Ss I'm 4th head from the left in the photo above with the Renault.
The Renault R8 at Bathurst.
My van business just got too busy, too much to handle alone and in 1980 I was approached by Ken Anderson to re join his company as Sales Manager for his three shops. In the early 1990's I helped develop the multi store and National Auto One franchise business chain. I also worked with Ken in an Automotive Parts and Accessories Import company by the name of Moto Quip.
II wrote the then catch phrase for the company.
For Auto - We're The One
In 1995 I was approached by Peter White's Speedway World publication to take over the position of Track Photographer at Parramatta City Raceway . That was the start of my career as a professional Speedway photographer at which I stayed from 1995 to 2004 and still do bits and pieces today.
One of my PCR photos and on the cover of Speedway World on the right.
I photographed the last three nights at the famous Sydney Showground Speedway in 1996. Garry Rush in the Dark Esslinger # 2 above.
The very last programme cover for the Final 1996 Sydney Showground Speedway meeting
( a PCR cover was used) carried one of my photos.
This one of American driver Jay Drake.
1990 - I was approached by Wayne Robinson a Historian( on right) to help form the Australian Speedway Museum at Maitland NSW , where it all started in 1923. We had the land, the plans, the registered name, the company formed but could not get the necessary finance to do the job properly. Jimmy McCleod a 1936 NZ International Solo rider on the left.
1998 Brisbane Ekka - My first Vintage Speedway meeting on the track in company - Q5 and I win two Show Awards - (right) Q5 & I - Graham Gallagher and his Tattersall Offy USA 35.
Bill Goode ( right) and I at a Speedway Promoter's meeting in Sydney.
Q5 and I getting it together at Bankstown City Paceway a big dirt 1/2 miler.
I held the positions of Events Director of the VSA of NSW for some years, Vice President and Newsletter Editor and also created and maintained the VSA website.
In 1998 I was approached by the owner to set up a Spare Parts Dept. for his Sprint Car Co. BC Motorsports, the Australian agent for the American Gambler Sprint Cars . I was given the title of General Manager.
Our first car to take the track in 1998 - USA # 2
It had a Gaerte 372 V8 engine. I had the job of photographing all the BC cars as they were built and raced.
In my spare time I could build a rolling chassis in a day off the shelf.
I finished my working career as a Rep for Automotive and road racing guru Bill Bressington at his company - FABRE at Lakemba.
Good friend Kerry Phelan of Junee offers me a drive of his Regularity MGB at Wakefield Park. My first time on a road track and I enjoyed it . Not F1 but good fun!.
When I retired I drove Q5 at Vintage Speedway meetings in 4 Australian states over a 9 year period and sold the car back to a Queensland enthusiast in 2009.
In 2000 I started on my Vintage & Modern Speedway and Vintage Road Racing websites.
A link to all of my sites can be accessed on the HOME PAGE this website.
I did the mechanical restoration of a friend's V12 2+2 E-type Jaguar and had the use of it after it was finished. I took it to Bathurst in 1985 for the 'Big Cats' 1000 , what a beautiful car on the road !
1963 Private practice - Warwick Farm - before the 1963 Hordern Trophy meeting - Frank Matich in the new BT7A F1 Brabham - me in the blue overalls - Bruce Richardson in front.
For 2004 - 2005 I was the Secretary of the Veteran Speedway Riders Association of Australia.
I organised the casting and the creation of a lot of the Speedway Remembrance Plaques we have now mounted at the old Speedway sites. Sydney Showground, Sydney Sports Ground, Maitland, Wentworth Park and Claremont in W.A.
I'm pictured here in 2012 at the Wentworth Park Plaque Day with Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.
A Speedway lunch at Don Read's home.
L to R : Don Read - Darrell Allwood - Brian Darby- Bryan Cunneen - Bill Wells - Don Halliday
Drivers of Yesteryear Lunch - Dundas 2.5.19
I was apprenticed to Ray in 1961-62 - started working with him in 1958-59.
and here with top 60's Speedcar driver Sid Middlemass.