Sa­vanna

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites Special -

The

last-minute in­clu­sion of drag rac­ing into his Surfers Par­adise track gave Keith Wil­liams grand plans to build sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties in all ma­jor cen­tres around Australia, the first be­ing that at Townsville. Named Sa­vanna Race­way, the track was built on a swampy site close to the south­ern edge of town.

The joint speed­way and drag strip com­plex opened its doors in July 1969 and formed a cru­cial link in Wil­liams’ plans as an ad­di­tional out­let to run his im­ported US race­cars.

Wil­liams sold the track in 1974 to a group of lo­cal busi­ness­men and man­age­ment headed by the ca­pa­ble Trevor Mobbs. But in 1975 it was leased to lo­cal rac­ers, the Bros­nan broth­ers. They ran the venue in a some­what chaotic fash­ion and in Au­gust 1976 the rac­ers banned the track and it was closed in Oc­to­ber and all its fa­cil­i­ties sold off in March ’77.

Mobbs bounced back with a new track on pri­vate prop­erty north of Townsville, near the Bohle River. To get around coun­cil red tape – since drag rac­ing was not an of­fi­cially recog­nised sport – the strip was for a time ‘of­fi­cially’ run by none other than the Ladies Bohle River Cricket Club.

Lo­cal clubs and rac­ers con­trib­uted time and money to es­tab­lish­ing the track and when Mobbs de­cided to buy it he be­gan to re­pay the debts. How­ever, when he died the re­pay­ments stopped, leav­ing a bad taste in ev­ery­one’s mouth. Mobbs’ brother Ray and his wife took over man­age­ment and sus­tained a low-level venue un­til the track was closed in mid-2012 by Townsville coun­cil due to en­croach­ing ur­ban devel­op­ment.

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