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Rowley Park 25 Yr

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The items below are supplied by Rod Webb and Alex Sims. Thanks.


In early 1926 The Motor cycle club of SA had ambitious plans to build promote and run there own Speedway track in SA.

Speedway was up and running at showground’s and other venues around Australia but local riders had no tracks to race or practice on in Adelaide.

Reports indicate that some country unofficial speedway had been run in SA but to according to the News Reports at this time (1925-6) this was to be the first club run and promoted track in the world!

In June 1926, plans were drawn up by a club member and land was leased at Smithfield.

A lease over this land to Motor Cycle Club of SA Incorporated by searching the names index at the Land Titles Office.

View Certificate of title Volume 674 Folio 60, “Lease No 977604 from Ronald Campbell Thomson to the Motor Cycle Club of S.A. Incorporated of the within land” Term three years from the 1 day of July 1926.

Produced for registration the 29 day of September 1926 at 11.10am”

The exact location remains a mystery. News paper reports say it is on the right-hand side of the Gawler Rd a little before Smithfield. This area now is called Elizabeth Downs.

A photo supplied by Alex Sims

Working bees were held over the next few months ploughing then rolling out the track.

The track measured one mile in length and 1½ chain wide with large run off areas.

Spectators could park there cars all the way around the track.

The Opening meeting was scheduled for October 13th a Wednesday (Public Holiday)

First Meeting on Saturday October 16th 1926

Unfortunately due to bad weather the club made the last minute decision to postpone the opening meeting until Sat 16th October.

This led to the unusual and confusing situation of two advertisements side by side in the Advertiser, one with the Oct Wednesday 13th date and one with the Oct Saturday16th date!

Despite this the first meeting was a success with a crowd of 4-5000 people attending.

Fastest man on the day was Len Stewart (WA) who did 5 laps (5 miles) in 4 minutes and 20 seconds averaging 69.23 mph.

Charlie Gray won the Sidecar events from Harry Butler. Eric Gray won the William Howard cup for novice races. Other riders to feature were A J Molye, C l Moyle L Thomas W Woolatt and S Simounds.

Planning commenced for the second meeting. Improvements such as stands a closed off pit area and refreshment booths were due to be finished before the second meeting.

It was planned to have an official practice session once a week unofficial practice was not allowed because before any practice or racing the cows that grazed in the paddock had to be moved!

At this first meeting Light cars were included was this start of car speedway as we now know it?

Amilcar was the popular choice I think there was only 3 or 4 competitors.

After a bad practice accident they missed a meeting then returned and raced regularly.

A Speedway Smash - November 11th 1926

The following was reported on the 17 November in Adelaide Advertiser.

At midday November 10th 1926, a tire burst on a light car practicing at Smithfield Speedway.

Two men were injured and admitted to the Gawler Hutchinson Hospital. Bernard F Ditmar of North Terrace, Kent Town and Colin C Ross of Milliner St, Prospect both were garage proprietors and were practicing with a view to competing on Nov 27th 1926.

Mr. Ditmar was driving and was not travelling very fast when rounding the home turn the near side tire blew and the car turned over several times assistance was quickly procured.

Neither man was wearing a helmet. Both men were flung out of the car onto their heads.

Mr. Ross was unconscious for some time and Mr. Ditmar was conscious but had to have a large number of stitches. The next day both men were progressing favourably.

There is no further reports of there condition.

Copy of a Program

Harry Butler - 1928

Len Stewart - 1928

Rider Unknown - 1928

Riders Unknown - 1928


In 1926 where the Smithfield Speedway was located it would have been a hot windy dry dusty plain,  although now it is a modern housing estate.

Dust became an issue as early as the second meeting and some ingenious methods were used to combat this, as the club president urged all members and garage owners to collect the old oil from working on motors and place it in a tanker at the Speedway. This tanker was then towed around the track depositing the oil followed by a roller.

This method although time consuming, worked well and had to be repeated before each meeting and they soon ran out of oil! On some particular race meetings with a northerly blowing and high, temperatures the conditions would have been almost unbearable.

Despite these consistent crowds of 4000 to 5000 were reported at each meeting.

Coloured Jackets

They were bought in at the second meeting so that each rider would wear a distinctive coloured jacket

similar to what jockeys wear.

This was already being used at The Melbourne Motodrome, a concrete mile banked speedway near Melbourne and at Claremont Speedway in WA.

With around 100 entries for the meeting it would have kept wives, girlfriends and mother’s busy sewing up all those jackets. This idea only lasted one meeting and it was scraped in favour of a more practical number system.

Conclusion of the First Season

The first season was highly successful with riders travelling from Interstate to compete.

It proved to the rest of the country that with a bit of trial and error a club could own promote its own and run its own speedway.

Representatives from the Norton and AJS English factories both visited Smithfield. This led to Len Stewart riding for the Norton factory in the English tourist Trophy races in the Isle of Man. He also rode speedway in England.

Other clubs in SA constructed there own speedways.

Strathalbyn Speedway was built from the original Smithfield plans.

If you can add or disprove any info on Smithfield please contact the webmaster.

Many thanks to Roscoe Garrigan for his help and support.

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