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.