Deagon Speed­way

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT -

From Gaven Dall’Osto For Gaven’s re­view of Tony Webb’s book, see Eyes Right in this is­sue. An ar­ti­cle in my lo­cal pa­per caught my eye last year. The head­line read “Book traces start of Speed­way Rac­ing to Deagon” and the ar­ti­cle in­tro­duced the au­thor Tony Webb who was shown pre­sent­ing a copy of his book to the Pres­i­dent of the Sandgate and Dis­trict His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and Mu­seum. Now that got my at­ten­tion, so from that time on I was cu­ri­ous to meet the man and to get a copy of his book. That took till the 24th May this year. Tony was to give a talk at the mu­seum and my­self and the HMCCQ Pine Rivers thought it ap­pro­pri­ate to have the club come along with our old bikes. The park­ing area in front of the mu­seum was cor­doned off for us and the nor­mal Sun­day club ride ended at there in time for the 2pm pre­sen­ta­tion. Tony be­gan with an apol­ogy for his ac­cent as he was orig­i­nally from Es­sex in the UK and still car­ries this legacy in his speech. He ex­plained that while grow­ing up in the UK, he wit­nessed and was cap­ti­vated by Speed­way and in par­tic­u­lar with the vis­it­ing Aussies who had colour­ful names and came from places like Deagon (a north­ern Bris­bane sub­urb) and Toowoomba. He de­cided that when he grew up he wanted to be a Speed­way rider. He did get the op­por­tu­nity but a brief stint in the sad­dle was enough for him to re­alise it wasn’t for him. The love of Speed­way never left him though and now, later in life and a res­i­dent of Bris­bane, he has taken to re­search­ing and writ­ing Speed­way history. Tony dis­cov­ered that much had been doc­u­mented on the ac­tion in the south­ern states and these publi­ca­tions con­cluded that Mait­land in NSW, which op­er­ated from 1923, was be­lieved to be the birthplace of Speed­way rac­ing. Tony knew that there were many tracks in Queens­land so went about ac­cu­mu­lat­ing data which ini­tially led to a book on Davies Park. It was later that he dis­cov­ered some even ear­lier in­for­ma­tion on Deagon race events. Tony dis­cov­ered that lo­cal Deagon his­to­ri­ans Grace Beecher and Barry Forsyth had al­ready ac­cu­mu­lated data from lo­cal pa­pers which all pre­dated any other track, so be­gan the quest to do fur­ther re­search which cul­mi­nated in a new and ex­cit­ing book. Dur­ing this re­search an al­bum was pre­sented to Tony which in­cluded many valu­able photos. Tony had the al­bum with him on the day and we were able to look through it af­ter his talk. The ori­gin of the photos was not ex­actly clear but the al­bum is be­lieved to have been owned by a Speed­way rider from NSW who com­peted in Deagon around 1926. The up­shot of Tony’s re­search was that the Deagon race­course as we know it to­day ex­isted for horse rac­ing back in the early 1920s. News­pa­per ad­ver­tise­ments and race re­ports in­di­cated that mo­tor­cy­cle races were also held on this track. The ear­li­est in­for­ma­tion re­ported “The Great Mo­tor Cy­cle Car­ni­val” which was held on the Deagon track on the 5th Novem­ber 1921. The event in­cluded a 3 and 20-mile race for solo mo­tor cy­cles and a 5 mile race for side­cars. These races were highly pro­filed and ad­ver­tised as “Queens­land Cham­pi­onships”. In to­tal, 24 race meet­ings were staged at the Deagon track be­tween 1921 and 1931 in­clud­ing 14 State Cham­pi­onships and 6 Aus­tralian/Aus­tralasian Cham­pi­onships. The Ekka has been gen­er­ally cred­ited as be­ing the birthplace of Qld Speed­way how­ever it didn’t be­gin un­til Oc­to­ber 1926. Thanks to Tony for the pre­sen­ta­tion and also to the team at the Sandgate and Dis­trict His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and Mu­seum for the ac­com­pa­ny­ing af­ter­noon tea.

ABOVE Au­thor Tony Webb (left) chats with for­mer Queens­land Speed­way Cham­pion Kev Tor­pie.

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