racing at Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Reserve started after the war. It soon became known as Kirjon Speedway, before being taken over by motorcycle racer Fred Tracey in 1951.
The most popular period for Tracey’s Speedway was in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the Hot Rod category took over from stock cars as the main attraction. These were based on the lightweight cars being raced in California, fitted with chopped and channeled pre-war bodies.
In Melbourne the Hot Rods ran clockwise. They occasionally raced on the Calder Park short circuit when it opened in 1961.
The Ford Mercury V8 was the motor of choice, preferably fitted with an imported Edelbrock manifold. A few were later powered by the potent slant six from early Valiants. The wonderfully-named Harry Dagg was one of the first to build one of these.
Other Melbourne stars included Graeme McCubbin, Nippa Lacey, Billy Willis and Allan Seddon. Future Bathurst star and Prodrive Racing Australia co-owner Rusty French began his long career at Tracey’s, driving a ‘34-model Ford that cost him 30 quid. The Hot Rods soon evolved into Super Modifieds, then the Sprintcars that are still being raced elsewhere today.
The speedway at Maribyrnong had its critics, especially from home owners living nearby. The track closed in 1964 when management of the Drive-In picture theatre next door complained that the noise and dust was interfering with their patrons’ viewing experience.
Maribyrnong Reserve still exists. A plaque commemorates the brief period when cars and bikes raced here.
Melbourne then struggled to find another suitable location. Brenock Park Speedway at Ferntree Gully operated for a similar period, while a track was also built at Brooklyn but never attracted the big crowds that