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South Australia's first motor race meeting?


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#1 Terry Walker

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 10:28

Looking for something else altogether, I turned up the following item through Trove:

The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) Monday 14 November 1904 p 7

MOTOR DERBY.

RACES AT MORPHETTVILLE.

A motor Derby is a new spectacle for South Australians, and there was quite a Continental atmosphere about Morphettville Racecourse on Saturday afternoon, when the Automobile Club held its first meeting in aid of charitable institutions. One has to develop a taste for this form of amusement, and the public will require considerable education before the appreciation of the novelty shall grow into the frenzied enthusiasm of European gatherings. The great majority of the Australian people have a wholly inadequate idea of what a big motor contest tueli as the Gordon-Bennett Cup Race means. In France and Germany it has become the national sport with the pomp of regal patronage. It is the pastime of the affluent aristocracy. Mr. S. V. Edge, who is pre-eminent among motorists, has remarked that in France the roads are so perfect that it is as safe to travel 60 miles an hour in an automobile as it is to sit on a sofa. He has registered a speed of 83 miles for the 60 minutes. Mr. Tucker, M.P., will be interested in these particulars. The member for Arcadia is, of course, opposed to what Mr. Edge calls the exhilarated individual who has a propensity for knocking down trees and colliding with other vehicles. This, however, is only a phase of motoring as interpreted by the driver who ought to be at home feeding the chickens.

The racing on Saturday afternoon was fairly interesting. Even by the kindest critic the fixture could not be regarded as a complete success, but the offcials are not to be blamed for the fact, that the excitement never rose above zero. They embarked on a rather difficult venture, and there was nothing in the shape of experience to guide them. In the circumstances the arrangements were creditable, and an excellent effort was made to please the spectators, who turned out in good force. It was in every respect a society function, and the ladies, gay in their summer “conceits,” gave the fine stretch of velvety green lawn a pleasing and refreshing brightness. As a rendezvous the Morphettville Course, with its pretty flower gardens and plots of green sward, was delightful. The course, however, was somewhat heavy for the motors, and militated against record times. The bicycles bumped with unabating consistency, and the cars, with one or two exceptions, failed to secure that pace which the onlookers had eagerly expected. In fact, doubt was frequently expressed whether a contest was actually in progress.

With such an extensive route some difficulty was experienced in perfecting a satisfactory start until Superintendent Booker, to the tune of a hearty peal of laughter, fired the baby cannon, his imposing proportions dwindling the weapon to ludicrous insignificance.

The fear was entertained that the meeting would result in serious accidents, but there was not even an 'incident.' South Australia possesses some capable drivers, and the ease with which they manipulated the cars created a most favourable impression. The officials were:— Judges, Messrs. Seward, M.P., and W. B. Foote; starters, Superintendent Booker and Mr. W. C. Kellet; stewards, Dr. Shepherd and Messrs. Price.MP., V. Lewis, H. Nicholls, and J. Mullins; lap scorer, Mr. G. Blockey; sports committee,; Dr. Gunson and Messrs. J. R. Baker and B. Thomson; timeteepcr, Mr. W H. Stevenson; marshal, Mr. H. H. Coipe; handicapper, Mr A.E Lykke; secretary', Mr. H. Bernard.

The results were: — Motor Bicycle Handicap (two laps, open to club members only— A D Tyler, Sphinx, 2¾ hp, scr.; N. Jackson (Lewis, 2 hp) 600 yds , C Bray (Allison, 3½ h.p.), 125 yds. Time, 4 min. 4 secs. Motor Bicycle Race (two laps, open) —W Baulderstone - (The Rose, 3¼ hp, scr), Mr.W. Davey (Allison, 3½ h.p.), 100 yds.; J H Gilbert (The Rose, 3 h.p.), 13o yds. Time, 4 min 1 sec . Tourist Car Race (three miles, with full complement of passengers, averaging 10 stone or over;.— E S Rymill (Darraq 15 hp) scr., A Allison (De Dion 12 hp) 450 yards, time 6 min 16 sec. Car Stopping Competition (cars were driven along finishing straight abreast, at about 15 miles an hour. At fall of q white flag brakes were applied and the distance from the back wheels of cars, when signal was given until a standstill was measured, and the driver pulling up in tbe shortest distance declared the winner).— Mrs. Thomson (De Dion, 8 h.p.); A. D. Tyler, (Sphinx, 8 hp).

Voiturette Race (up 6½ h.p., two miles).— W. Higginbottom (Oldsmobile, 5 h.p.), 300 yd; Dr. Shepherd (Oldsmobile, 5 h.p.), 300 yds.; T. P. O'Grady (Humberette, 5 h.p, 180 yds. Time, 5 m. 32 sec

Starting Competition (for motor cars). First Heat. At starting signal, driver started motor by handle, cars then raced. The first four cars past flag (100 yds. from finish) raced on to white line at finishing post, upon which the front wheels were stopped. Any competitor stopping short of line proceeded forward until he reached indicated mark. Any competitor ovcr-running mark reversed to line indicated. Full complement, to weigh 10 st. 7 lb. (average) or over. E. S. Rymill (Darracq, 15 h.p.); A. D. Tyler (Sphinx Brown, 8 h.p.) V. Lewis (De Dion, 8 h.p.). : Second Heat.— W. Higginbottom (Oldsmobile, 5 h.p.) S. T. Thomas (De Dion. 12 h.p.) H C. Drewe Humberette, 5 h.p.). Final.— . S. T. Thomas. A. D. Tyler. E S. Hymill.

Heavy Car Race (7 h.p. and over, three miles).— E. S. Rymill (Darraq, 15 h.p.), scr.; A. Allison (De Dion, 8 h.p.), 500 yds.; Dr. Gault (De Dion, 8 h.p.), 1,000 yds, Time, 5m. 19 2-5 sec.

Reverse Race, scr., 200 yds.— R. Emslie (Oldsmobile, 5 h.p.); V. Lewis (De Dion, 8 h.p.). Time, 8 hp, time 51 sec.

Edited by Terry Walker, 28 October 2011 - 10:29.


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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 19:52

Originally posted by Terry Walker
Looking for something else altogether.....

.....the driver who ought to be at home feeding the chickens.....


Now there's something that's survived the intervening century!

Fascinating, Terry, one wonders what there is still to be turned up. And a look at those names finds some that might not be hard to find descendents, not to mention whether or not we could ask if Bill Seward could be descended from that pioneer official and MP.

#3 Terry Walker

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 01:22

Sometimes on Trove, things turn up where you don't expect them. I was searching "Rolls-Royce" year by year for the RR Owners Club, and turned up the inaugural Welsphool Rd Hill-Climb, 1916. (The year before the first sand-pull.) The reason why that search found it was that fastest time was recorded by a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. So into my results page on my website it goes.

#4 austmcreg

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 07:03

Now there's something that's survived the intervening century!

Fascinating, Terry, one wonders what there is still to be turned up.

I would suggest a fair bit has already been turned up; there is a fair bit of knowledge on these things within small sections of the veteran car movement is Adelaide, and in particular, in an area I have been active in for the last 30 years, there is a great deal of knowledge of the motorcycle side of these things, going back even further. Those people involved do not inhabit TNF, but if anyone wants a contact name I can provide it. Myself and others have been trawling newspapers (well before Trove made it much easier) and a lot more besides for the last 30-40 years.

Again on the motorcycle side, the locally made machines are all detailed in my book "The A-Z of Australian Made Motorcycles 1893-1942", Turton and Armstrong 1996, now out of print but available in quite a few libraries. It is OT here, but I could provide photographs of many of the motorcycles mentioned in these reports.

Researchers on automotive subjects tend to inhabit their own particular niches, and just because TNFers may be new to a particular area (such as the early veteran period) it is wrong to assume that is true of others. There is a lot of research going on in most areas of automotive history, but those doing it do not necessarily overlap with each other.

Rob Saward

Edited by austmcreg, 30 October 2011 - 00:26.


#5 Terry Walker

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 12:56

It's a shame Turton and Armstrong are no more. They published my Fast Tracks book way back. You're right about a lot of quiet and all-too-often unknown historical research going on everywhere. A lot of it is unlikely to be published widely because of high cost and small potential market. TNF is a great place to let others know that the research exists, though.

My special interest is motor racing history, and I have accumulated a lot of stuff, like a fat library of race results in WA 1901 to date (over 2,000 pages of it) which would take years to re-do but is luckily free for everyone on my website. And (see the Library Archiving thread on this forum) it will now remain available to all after by website inevitably dies. It all helps spread the good word.

Edited by Terry Walker, 29 October 2011 - 13:03.


#6 fredeuce

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 21:21

The book by Jim Shepherd "A History of Australian Speedway" published in 2003 touches on this theme but looks at it from a National perspective. That is; when and where was the first motor race in Australia ?

In his discussion of that topic he refers to some sort of motoring event at the Jubilee Oval in Adelaide in 1899. That location is on the University of Adelaide grounds and since built over. I believe the location to be bordered by Frome Road and Victoria Drive. He suggests it involved motorized tandems or perhaps tricycles.

He then refers to an event held at the Adelaide Oval on 11 October 1902 promoted as "The First Motor Race In Australia". There are accompanying photographs on the subject. All interesting reading.

Edited by fredeuce, 29 October 2011 - 21:22.


#7 David Shaw

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 10:30

After a bit of hunting through Trove, I have found some results from the Motor Racing at Adelaide Oval on October 12, 1902. This meeting was run by the League of Wheelmen in S.A. and had bicycle, motor-cycle and motor car races. There were 13 entrants in the Motor Car races.

There were 2 heats of a 5 mile handicap with a final to be held the following week.

Heat 1.
First T. P. O'Grady off scratch with 2 3/4hp motor in the time of 9:10. Unofficially timed at 1:33 over a mile

Heat 2.
First J. Bullock off 1:20 in the time of 10:50 3/4
Second F. R. Burden off 1:05 (Results say 1:50 but I have a list of the handicaps)
Third R. W. Lewis (Vic?) off 0:50

#8 David McKinney

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 10:43

Heat 2.
Second F. R. Burden off 1:05 (Results say 1:50 but I have a list of the handicaps)

The handicaps may have been changed between their publication and the actual race (eg, after practice, or when officials actually saw what Mr Burden had turned up with)


#9 David Shaw

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 10:50

I had considered that David, but considering it was the first motor race in Australia and that nobody knew what to expect I thought it more likely to be a typo, transposing the two figures. I have just found the results of the final the following week, which co-incidentally Burden won, and he shows a handicap in the results of 1:05

#10 David Shaw

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 11:04

Having found further articles, it appears these were the first motor-cycle races in Australia.

The Advertiser, Saturday October 11 1902 p6
The steeply banked track on the Adelaide Oval is not suited to motor car racing, but is admirably adapted for contests between motor cycles..............
There will be 13 competitors in the 2 heats of the motor cycle race............


#11 Terry Walker

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 03:14

It's becoming clear to me that motorbikes got in first, as well-heeled racing cyclists acquired their new motor bicycle toys. In SA as in WA the bicycle racing clubs began by adding classes for motor bicycles. Later, the motorbike boys went off to form their own racing clubs. Car racing, with cars being much more expensive, and a lot rarer, came a bit later. I expect that this is a common pattern throughout Australia.

Trove certainly makes hunting down this sort of history a lot less tedious that it once was. For two hours' work, writers' cramp and pages of increasingly illegible copying in the Library, I used to have to spend the best part of a day including travelling time.

#12 David McKinney

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 07:05

I expect that this is a common pattern throughout Australia.

... and New Zealand


#13 David Shaw

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 08:58

According to the records I have, only the Sandown and Maribyrnong Racecourse (April 30) meetings precede the Morphettville meeting as far as car racing goes.

#14 Terry Walker

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 01:34

Motorcycle racing would in my opinion have begun in Australia before 1901. The race at the WACA which I had in my book "Around the Houses" as November 1902 turned out to be October 1901 when I finally tracked down the original source years later. Two motor tricycles or tri-cars, and a motor bicycle (which failed to start). Other motorcycle races were held in 1901 and 1902 in Perth and at Fremantle football oval. I don't know of any earlier than that in Western Australia but wouldn't be surprised to turn something up. It has probably already been turned up, but as Rob Saward observed several posts back, in local motor-cycle history research all over the country.

It would be nice to discover that the first ever race in Oz was held on 1 January 1901 - the same day the Commonwealth of Australia came into existence. Not very likely though.

The difficulty with using Trove and the like is fluking the right key word. Motor Racing and Motorcycle Racing are not phrases commonly used in the very early days.

Edited by Terry Walker, 06 November 2011 - 01:36.


#15 Terry Walker

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 01:43

As an addendum to the last post, looking at Jim Shepherd's "A History of Australian Motor Sport" (Sportsbook, Sydney, 1980) actually records a motorised tricycle race at the SCG on 1 January 1901!

The results: Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 1901 p 15

Motor Race, First prize, £7, second prze, £3; distance, 2 miles ; first man start in final - First heat : J. Green, l; C. B. Bellow. Green sprinted and passed Kellow, gradually increasing his lead until at the bell he led by 10 lengths, winning by about the same distance. Time, 5 minutes 19 second. Second heat: A. E. O'Brien, 1 ; P. W. Tewksbury. The pace was a cracker for the first lap, but the race lost interest after the failure of O'Brien's motor. Time, 5 minutes 11 seconds. Final heat: J, Green, 1 ; A.O Brien. Green and O'Brien faced the gun. Green took the lead, both motors going well. Green's motor led the way by a clear half-dozen lengths. This lead wau gradually increased until he crossed the tape looking round, leading by a dozen yards. Time, 6 minutes 2 seconds.


Edited by Terry Walker, 06 November 2011 - 02:18.


#16 David Shaw

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 09:06

I have found an advertisement on page 2 of the SMH from March 14 1900 for that nights League of Wheelmen meeting, the final of the season. Unfortunately, I am having trouble extracting that particular ad from the whole page, but it says:

TO-NIGHT TO-NIGHT
MOTOR-PACED PURSUIT RACES
NOVELTIES, HANDICAPS
AND
MOTOR-CAR RACE
AT THE
LEAGUE BICYCLE SPORTS
TO-NIGHT.

I have had no luck however, in finding the results of the motor-car race so I suspect it may not have eventuated.

#17 Brian Lear

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:16

I have found an advertisement on page 2 of the SMH from March 14 1900 for that nights League of Wheelmen meeting, the final of the season. Unfortunately, I am having trouble extracting that particular ad from the whole page, but it says:

TO-NIGHT TO-NIGHT
MOTOR-PACED PURSUIT RACES
NOVELTIES, HANDICAPS
AND
MOTOR-CAR RACE
AT THE
LEAGUE BICYCLE SPORTS
TO-NIGHT.

I have had no luck however, in finding the results of the motor-car race so I suspect it may not have eventuated.


David
In the first couple of years of the last century the term "Motor Car Race" referred to a motor powered vehicle - usually a
tandem used for pacing bicycles in competition. It could also refer to a motor powered tricycle or a motorcycle.

Brian Lear