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.