“T

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites -

wo sq-sq-squirts and a w-ww-wig­gle” was how five-time Aus­tralian tour­ing car cham­pion Pete Geoghe­gan de­scribed the sim­ple lay­out of the cir­cuit then called Calder Race­way. It was clearly a less than flat­ter­ing but nev­er­the­less ac­cu­rate sum­ma­tion of the lit­tle track that served Mel­bourne mo­tor­sport well for many years in its orig­i­nal form.

Like the man who dom­i­nated the venue both on and off track for half a cen­tury, Bob Jane, Calder was un­com­pli­cated, pug­na­cious and un­pre­dictable. Some­times it could be as cold as its name sug­gested and at oth­ers as hot as Hell it­self.

With laps times of well be­low a minute, even in a For­mula Vee, and with only four cor­ners joined by a cou­ple of medium-length straights, Calder pro­vided plenty of ac­tion for the fans, who had a good chance of be­ing right on the spot when the tin-top stars of its glory days – Geoghe­gan, Jane, Norm Beechey and Al­lan Mof­fat in par­tic­u­lar – in­evitably came to blows on the black­top.

And didn’t the crowds pour through the gates. Dur­ing the 1960s and ’70s it was com­mon for 20,000 fans to line the fences and em­bank­ments that cir­cled the track. And crowds like that turned up as of­ten as six times a year for a day of short, sharp races that were in­evitably ac­tion-packed.

While Sandown on the other side of town basked in the lux­ury of the cov­ered grand­stand and man­i­cured lawns that go with be­ing a thor­ough­bred rac­ing fa­cil­ity, Calder unashamedly had a feel­ing of fun more akin to a rodeo. This was blue-col­lar rac­ing, just like its owner.

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