A brief, chronological history of Speedway Racing in Australia.
The sport of dirt track and asphalt automobile and motorcycle racing in Australia on small, enclosed, circular tracks can be traced, in embryonic form at least, to the 1900's however it was during the 1920's that it really became popular with world famous tracks opening such as the Sydney Showground and West Maitland in NSW, Wayville Showground in SA, Claremont Showground in WA, Kardinia Park and Melbourne Exhibition in Vic and the Brisbane Exhibition in Qld.
1930s & 40s
The first official Speedcar or 'Midget car' event held in Australia was staged at Melbourne's Olympic Park on December 15, 1934 under rules and regulations of the Midget Car Drivers Association whose name was later changed to the Victorian Speedcar Drivers' Association. The Victorian Speedcar Championship was inaugurated in April 1935 and still stands as the second oldest Speedcar race in the world behind the American Thanksgiving Grand Prix held in November 1934.
The Victorian club also organised the first Australian championship however as Speedcar racing spread interstate the official national title is difficult to trace as each rival track and sanctioning body held their own title in each state, this continued even after a national body was formed.
1950s & 60s
Speedway was revitalised with the introduction of crash and bash Stock Car racing in the mid 1950's and the first meeting at the Sydney Showground drew an estimated crowd 40,000 spectators. Lightweight Stock Rod/Hot Rod/Sportsman/Super Modified/Modified racing began in the early 1960's and later evolved in to Sprintcar racing while the heavier version developed into V8 Dirt Modifieds.
Meanwhile the mighty midgets enjoyed a golden era during the 60's that is still revered today. In December 1964, the Sun newspaper wrote that speedway racing was now the second most watched summer spectator sport behind first-class horse racing, easily out doing cricket, tennis, athletics, trotting and greyhound racing.
1970s & 80s
Sedans took over as the number one category in Australia during the 1970's racing on dirt and paved tracks while Sprintcars developed towards the end of the decade and really flourished in the 1980's, so much so that a national series was organised to really showcase the division. Branded the Australian Sprintcar Championship Series (ASC Series) we now know it as World Series Sprintcars.
The 70's also witnessed TQ's (small versions of Speedcars) morph into a number of classes such as Three Quater Midgets, Micro Midgets/Sprints, Junior/Compact Speedcars, Grand Prix Midgets, Mini Sprints, V6 Sprints, Litre Cars and Formula 500's. Along the journey many sedan categories developed however only five are controlled by the Australian Saloon Car Federation (Speedway Sedans Australia); Super Sedans, Modified Production Sedans, Production Sedans, Street Stocks and Junior Sedans.
Traditionally speedway's administration has been fragmented across various sanctioning and category groups, but that changed in 1997 when the Federation of Australian Speedway (FAS) and World Series Sprintcars united to form NASR. NASR has worked hard to develop unified standards in safety, training, presentation and performance, improve the profile and standardise and develop management skills at all levels.
In 2006 NASR was ratified by the FIA, through CAMS, as the internationally recognised controlling body of speedway racing in Australia, becoming the first speedway body anywhere to achieve FIA delegation of authority. As of March 2014, Speedway Australia no longer holds this delegation.
Today speedway racing offers a cosmopolitan smorgasbord of racing to wet the appetite of any motor sport enthusiasts or to provide a fun family night out.
The main national classes today are 360 Sprintcars, AMCA Nationals, Compact Speedcars, Formula 500's, Junior Sedans, Junior Quater Midgets, Late Model Sedans, Litre Cars, Modified Production Sedans, Production Sedans, Speedcars, Sprintcars, Street Stocks, Super Sedan, V8 Dirt Modifieds as well as Classic/Vintage demonstrations.
In May 2011, the National Association of Speedway Racing rebranding to become Speedway Australia, reflecting a series of organisational changes and resource improvements enabling more efficient governance of the sport.
For a complete history of Australian Champions in Speedway Australia National Divisions, as well as Hall of Fame inductees, Speedway Australia Rising Stars, WSS and NSSS Champions, please view or download this PDF: Hall of Champions (current as at September 2012).