Ravenswood

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites Special -

Af­ter

ini­tial events at the Fair­bridge Farm airstrip, which launched for­mal drag rac­ing in the Perth area, the 1320 Drag Club en­tered into ar­range­ments with two busi­ness­men – John Sul­ley and Keith Tyler – to con­struct a for­mal quar­ter-mile drag strip just in­land from the small coastal vil­lage of Man­durah, south of the city.

The new strip, named Ravenswood Race­way, was opened in Novem­ber 1969 and be­came an in­stant hit, at­tract­ing a grow­ing core of qual­ity rac­ers and a steady fol­low­ing from fans. The man­age­ment liked to pro­mote the venue as the “most iso­lated drag strip in the world”, which it prob­a­bly was, with the near­est track be­ing at Whyalla, on the eastern side of the Nullar­bor. Be­ing lo­cated where it was it avoided many of the po­lit­i­cal up­heavals which the rest of the sport around the Eastern seaboard en­dured over the years, and it al­lowed a more con­trolled range of track pro­mo­tions, lit­tle in­flu­enced by what was hap­pen­ing else­where and thus sus­tain­ing a more man­aged growth.

By the late 1980s Tyler was look­ing to move on (Sul­ley had long gone) and three lo­cal rac­ers stepped up and made the pur­chase. In the hands of part-owner Kevin Pren­der­gast as manager, the track be­gan a boom pe­riod which took it through the run­ning of the 1990 Na­tion­als, the big­gest event run in the West, and a rapid growth phase, which saw the ex­ten­sion of spec­ta­tor and cor­po­rate fa­cil­i­ties and grand­stands, the con­trol tower, pit area and gen­eral land­scap­ing of the venue.

Pren­der­gast was suc­ceeded by Gary Mio­ce­vich, an­other of the part-own­ers, who soon ex­tended his ti­tle to cover the full own­er­ship of the track.

Drag rac­ing’s big­gest Achilles heel al­ways has been noise, and with the boom in pop­u­lar­ity of the nearby Man­durah, which rapidly out­grew its vil­lage at­mos­phere, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties de­cided that with de­mand for land in the area grow­ing they wanted ur­ban devel­op­ment along the neigh­bour­ing Mary River and Ravenswood had to go. How­ever, rather than sim­ply pulling the pin on the venue they be­gan a search for an al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tion, even­tu­ally set­tling on a new site at Kwinana, much closer to the city and right on the ma­jor south­ern free­way.

The new gov­ern­ment-funded track, Kwinana Mo­tor­plex, com­bin­ing both a drag strip and a speed­way, opened in 2000 and Ravenswood slipped into his­tory, with its re­main­ing fa­cil­i­ties be­ing sold off. As this ar­ti­cle was writ­ten the venue was for sale, and has been used as a “life­style prop­erty and air­port”, with just the as­phalt sur­face and one re­main­ing sec­tion of grand­stand re­main­ing.

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