Clare­mont

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites Special -

The

speed­way at the Clare­mont Show­grounds in Perth was of­ten nom­i­nated as the best track in Aus­tralia by com­peti­tors, mainly be­cause it was longer (at 586 me­tres) and wider than the Syd­ney or Ekka tracks.

There was room for three-wide rac­ing here, and space for up to 20,000 spec­ta­tors.

Rac­ing be­gan here in 1927 and lasted for over 70 years. Clare­mont came into its own in the early sev­en­ties when pro­duc­tion sedans took off. This cat­e­gory was es­pe­cially im­pres­sive in Perth, with strong fields and some of the best-look­ing cars in Aus­tralia. The sedan fea­ture race usu­ally con­sisted al­most en­tirely of Aus­tralian mus­cle cars, with a Mus­tang or Mini for va­ri­ety. Per­haps the only draw­back was the ab­sence of in­ter­state driv­ers. Few were pre­pared to make the three­day trek across the Nul­la­bor.

I never went there my­self, but I felt I knew the place through Satur­day morn­ing re­plays on the tele. Even on a black-and-white ana­log screen you could feel the at­mos­phere. Thanks to this weekly cov­er­age Perth sedan stars like Bert Vos­ber­gen, Stan Starce­vic, A.J. Ny­lan­der and Al­lan Blake were well known around Aus­tralia.

This speed­way was pro­moted by the en­tre­pre­neur­ial Con Mi­gro who spent big money to bring over Amer­i­can sedan teams. These events were usu­ally sold out.

Clare­mont sur­vived the long­est of any of the big city show­ground speed­ways, with the last meet­ing held on 31 March, 2000. Rac­ing was re­lo­cated to the new Quit Mo­tor­plex at Kwinana and is now dom­i­nated by Sprint­cars. In­ter­est­ingly, when I spoke to Con Mi­gro a few years ago he sug­gested that if Clare­mont had stuck to its mus­cle car for­mat, rac­ing would still be hap­pen­ing there, and mak­ing a profit.

What used to be the Clare­mont speed­way is now used for WAFL matches.

A fea­ture story on Clare­mont’s mus­cle car era ap­peared in AMC # 48.

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