For­rest­field

Australian Muscle Car - - News -

While

the Clare­mont Show­ground was the undis­puted home to speed­way in Perth between 1927 and 2000, bushy For­rest­field played host to an al­ter­na­tive venue that sprang up quite or­gan­i­cally.

Billy Mar­shall was cut­ting up a gravel pit one day in the 1950s in his 1932 Ford. Leg­end has it that peo­ple driv­ing by spot­ted the dust, stopped to have a look and be­fore long that lone street rod­der be­came two. Then three…

As the crudely-built track at­tracted more and more cars and even­tu­ally in­for­mal races, com­peti­tors thought they should get a bit more or­gan­ised. Thus, the For­rest­field Hot Rod Club was born.

The site had long been ear­marked for hous­ing com­mis­sion dwellings and when, af­ter a few years, devel­op­ment ac­tu­ally be­gan, the rac­ers moved ac­tiv­i­ties from the orig­i­nal Hart­field Road track to a new For­rest­field lo­ca­tion off Daw­son Av­enue.

So it came to be that Perth’s speed­way rac­ers com­peted dur­ing win­ter at this lo­ca­tion due east of Clare­mont (then) well beyond the met­ro­pol­i­tan area.

Pro­duc­tion sedans and hot rods, some road-reg­is­tered, were the main at­trac­tions and judg­ing by the re­ports that ap­peared in speed­way mag­a­zines, racing was wild. Just about every photo shows a ‘racing in­ci­dent’ of some kind.

Con­di­tions were ba­sic to say the least. The out­side bar­rier was ini­tially a bank of dirt, later re­in­forced in some sec­tions with rail­way sleep­ers placed ver­ti­cally.

This was where sev­eral fu­ture Clare­mont sedan stars got their start, in­clud­ing Paul de Lacey, Rod Watson, Lau­rie Hardie and Bob Shep­herd. Tony Matta, shown crash­ing his FX Holden in 1968, later raced Su­per Mod­i­fieds at Clare­mont with some success.

At For­rest­field cars ran clock­wise, the op­po­site to most other Aus­tralian speed­ways. There were sev­eral at­tempts to re­verse the di­rec­tion but the or­gan­is­ers in­sisted that their track had been de­signed for that pur­pose and re­fused to change.

As sub­ur­bia be­gan to en­croach ever closer to the speed­way, ru­mours of its demise be­gan to grow. Racing was still hap­pen­ing in 1980 but stopped soon af­ter.

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