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Liverpool Speedway - Sydney
By Peter Hunter

This isn't one of my photo's so I can't take credit for taking it, but here is an aerial view of the Liverpool Speedway in Sydney taken during the mid-late 1970's.

The original "D" shaped track was paved over in 1974 and the 280 metres (310 yards) motorcycle track was built on the infield. The bike track had no fence (for which the speedway's management had to get special permission as the NSW Speedway's Act stated that no track could be run without a safety fence) and as you can see in the photo, the back straight was a fair way from the spectator mounds. When the main 440 metres (480 yards) track was changed to clay in 1984 (primarily to attract Australia's most popular category - Sprintcars), the bikes continued to race on the infield track, which despite its small size was quite fast as it was banked on both the straights and in the turns.

The main attraction at the speedway would become the V8 powered Grand National sedans, with the highlights being annual visits by 4 man American teams for Australia vs USA "Test matches", as well as the annual 100 lap Marlboro Grand National which would attract crowds upwards of 25,000 making it for a time Australia's most attended speedway. Although they normally raced on dirt, Speedcars (Midgets) were also an attraction on the paved surface with the Australian Speedcar Grand Prix being held at Liverpool from 1975 until 1988. Multiple Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt won the 1975 and 1976 Grand Prix at Liverpool in a VW powered car earning him the nickname "The legend in the lawnmower".

Liverpool Speedway was opened in 1967. The name was changed to the Liverpool International Speedway in 1974 to go with the new surface and bike track. Its name changed again for the last time in 1980 to the Liverpool City Raceway. The main track hosted the Australasian Grand Prix in 1970, 1971 and 1972 - all won by Ivan Mauger. It also hosted the last ever Australasian Final in 1981, again won by Mauger, and hosted the 1982 World Pairs Final won by Americans Bobby Schwartz and Dennis Sigalos. Liverpool also hosted the 1976 Australian Solo Championship won by reigning World Champion Ole Olsen from Phil Crump and local hotshot Billy Sanders. It also hosted the Australian Sidecar Championship in 1984.

Bikes were not originally run at the speedway, but constant campaigning by Australian international Gordon Guasco saw bikes put on the program in the late 1960's, Sadly Guasco (who had grown up in the area and attended Liverpool High School) would lose his life as a result of a crash at Liverpool on 1 November 1970. After being in a coma for 8 days he would succumb to his injuries on 8 November, just 16 days shy of his 31st birthday.

Under the threat of the urban sprawl, Liverpool sadly closed its doors suddenly in 1989 to make way for a new housing complex and shopping centre called Valley Plaza, leaving Sydney without a world class motorcycle speedway for the first time since the Sydney Showground was first used for racing in 1926, a situation that continues to this day (2015).

 

This article was first published on 25th January 2015


 

  • Tracy Holmes:

    "Brilliant work Peter! Thanks for that. Would you or anyone have a podium snap of that 1976 Australian Champs with Olsen, Crump and Sanders? Love to see it here if at all possible. Cheers!"

  • Elaine Guasco:

    "Just wanted to change the age you have on Gordon Guasco ... he would have been 30 not 31 years ...."

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