People of the Revolution
George was born in Budapest on 31 January 1943 – ignore Google; he sliced a couple of years off his age because he started racing so late – and grew up in post-WWII Hungary under the control of the Russians. His father owned a big restaurant with 100 employees and had fought for the Germans in the war, which didn’t go down well. The Russians evicted the family from the restaurant and sent them away for being capitalists.
“They took his business away in about 1949; just take your hat and coat and go,” Fury recalls of those painful days. “This was the way the government was trying to get back on their feet, because they didn’t have any money, so they took over all these big businesses and ran them themselves. As you can imagine, they all went downhill.
“They deported us to a little country town, which we weren’t allowed to leave, and the deportees had to work in agriculture and help the locals that way. We were there for a bit more than a year and a half until they let us go, but we weren’t allowed to go back to Budapest as another form of penalty, so we lived just outside Budapest.”
The Hungarians revolted in 1956, but the Revolution lasted barely a week and the Russians returned with 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks, killing 20,000 people. That was enough for the Fury family; they joined 250,000 countrymen in eeing while the borders were still open.
“Dad was looked upon as a capitalist, so it was better for us not to be there. When the Hungarian Revolution was lost and the Russians took control again, we jumped the border into Austria. We were just refugees with nothing… I wanted to go to US because of jeans and all those sort of things, but Dad thought Australia was the best choice, and I think it was.”
It was no easy trip, though. The Suez Canal had been closed after Israel invaded Egypt, so their ship diverted around Africa. The trip took 43 days and they arrived in Melbourne on George’s 14th birthday.
George, his younger sister and parents were immediately bused to a migrant camp in the tiny town of Bonegilla near Wodonga, alongside the Murray River, not far from Hume Weir, alongside which the old race circuit was built. Fury senior cleaned toilets and did odd jobs to support the family until they had enough money to send George to Melbourne, where he found work at the Tom Piper cannery and rented a house for them all to move into. He was a good son, but “sadly didn’t ful ll my parents’ dreams of becoming a doctor or anything like that; I didn’t have it in me to study that hard.”