Vale Clem Smith

Australian Muscle Car - - News -

In

a ca­reer in mo­tor­sport span­ning more than 60 years, Clem Smith was a suc­cess­ful South Aus­tralian state com­peti­tor over many decades. More than that, though, he was the man who al­most sin­gle-hand­edly saved the Mal­lala cir­cuit from ex­tinc­tion.

Clem was ini­tially a speed­way driver at the leg­endary Row­ley Park, be­fore switch­ing to road racing in the early 1950s. He con­tested the 1955 AGP at Port Wake­field in an AustinHealey 100. Later the Chrysler dealer turned to Valiants, and was a lead­ing com­peti­tor in early slant-six pow­ered mod­els in the 1960s. He fin­ished third in the sin­gle-race Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship at Mal­lala in 1963. Else­where Smith won the South Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship, af­ter the Al­lan Mof­fat and Jim McKe­own Lo­tus Corti­nas ahead of him took one another off the cir­cuit.

Later on Smith be­came in­volved with and cham­pi­oned Sports Sedans, de­vel­op­ing a heav­ily mod­i­fied Chrysler Charger. The re­stored Charger is an iconic ma­chine in Sports Sedan his­tory and in re­cent years has served as a pa­rade car for the an­nual Clem Smith Cup Sports Sedan race at Mal­lala.

But it is Mal­lala will that be Smith’s last­ing legacy. The World War II air­field cir­cuit seemed lost for­ever af­ter it was closed in the early 1970s, and was only saved by Smith’s courage and tenac­ity.

Af­ter pur­chas­ing the dor­mant venue in the mid-’70s, Smith had to un­der­take some seven years of le­gal bat­tles be­fore he could of­fi­cially open the South Aus­tralian track for racing once more. With the ef­fec­tive clo­sure of the Ade­laide In­ter­na­tional Race­way in the late 1980s, Mal­lala for many years has served as the lifeblood of mo­tor­sport in South Aus­tralia as the state’s only per­ma­nent racing fa­cil­ity.

The South Aus­tralian was pro­filed in de­tail for AMC #73.

Clem Smith died peace­fully in his sleep on Fe­bru­ary 8, aged 90.

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