Best Book Publishers UK | Austin Macauley Publishers

By: Bill Pearson

Birthplaces of Australian Motor Racing

Pages: 430 Ratings: 5.0
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This book records and now preserves the history of Australian motorsport. Huge proportions of it were just on the very edge of being lost.
By the time you have read this book, you will be unbeatable at Australian motor racing trivia around any race campground fire pit or BBQ. You will know what the deadliest day was trackside in this country, the speedway promoter who discovered and named one of Australia’s biggest international rock groups, the most extreme financial car racing venue disaster of all time, why many residential roads have names the people who live there don’t appreciate, and what venue built its own railway station which is still in use today.
You will discover places worth dragging the family off to so you can take photos of rusting artefacts and sprout knowledgeable but boring nostalgic conversations. You’ll also be amazed at some of the historic car racing locations you’ve unknowingly been driving past.
How do you locate old car venues when some were utterly demolished 90 years ago, an industrial complex built on the same spot, which was in turn torn down and replaced with a university, a lake or a multi-storey housing estate?
This roll call of mine started out with two simple questions that most petrol heads in this country ask themselves sooner or later. How many car racing facilities have closed in Australia – and why?

You couldn’t get a weirder mix of a bloke than Bill Pearson. Raised at Homebush in what at that time, in the 1960s, was considered the extremities of the Western Suburbs of Sydney, it took only one attendance at a race meeting to set him on the path of lifelong race car follower, participant and motor racing photographer. His jobs included copy boy, newsreel film editor and cameraman, videotape editor and TV workshop manager, ordained Baptist minister serving 14 years in two states (Rev Head), then a full-time professional award-winning taxidermist. (The connection between the last two occupations is life after death!) Next came drug and alcohol counsellor, family community services manager, ending with services manager with a large fiberglass supplies manufacturer.

He taught himself how to do things by himself, sculpt and make his own fiberglass race car parts, all the automotive mechanics those projects involve, and was a skilled photographer with work published on the covers of Auto Sportsman and most other Australian car magazines. He was also a hunter/journalist, becoming a well-known and regular contributing journalist to Australian Sporting Shooter with regular articles and colour covers yet again.

Supposedly retired, he’s just finished building his own two-storey house in the mountains, virtually single-handedly over four years, which has formed just 58 of the over 250 videos uploaded to his WJP004 YouTube channel that is literally watched around the world. Having recently switched from dirt to only tar, his current racing goal is to keep on winning state championships alongside his even more successful son.

Customer Reviews
8 reviews
8 reviews
  • Dick Willis (old Aussie petrol head)

    Many of us have a pet subject that has been nagging our minds for years which we believe would make an interesting subject for a book. Some actually get around to producing such a book. But to make it a success the writer should ensure they have fully researched the topic, and then present it in a fashion to make it attractive and interesting for prospective readers.

    In producing "Birthplaces of Australian Motor Racing", Bill Pearson has certainly ticked those boxes, drawn on his extensive experience as a motorsport competitor, photographer, and writer and revived memories of venues long lost to motorsport, many of which we remember fondly from our youth. These 150 long-lost venues include many which were probably only known to locals and were created with enthusiasm for them to participate in motorsport only for that enthusiasm to wane and the tracks to close, sometimes after only a short period. Others of course fell victim to the approach of suburbia and the inevitable noise complaints that motorsport seems to attract.

    One can only marvel at the research Bill has undertaken in producing this beautifully presented 430-page volume and I thoroughly recommend it to all those with some petrol, (even stale petrol), in their veins.

  • Peter Finlay

    Australia is losing motorsport venues at an alarming rate, so it is timely that Bill has researched and published what is probably the definitive work on venues; circuits, hill climbs, drag strips and speedways which have existed across the country and have now passed into history.
    This book has been researched, written, and provides the precise photographic location of 150 arenas throughout Australia. It is fascinating to read of these old locations.
    One location about which I was particularly interested to read and to see if it agreed with my personal research, was that of Berkshire Park in western Sydney near Windsor. Having visited there many times during the years, I knew of its exact location on Richmond Road. There have been, over the years, references to and, indeed, some confusion between the identity of Berkshire Park Airstrip and Marsden Park. Initially, I thought there might have been two, separate, strips which, post war, were used for some car racing events. But it turns out they are one and the same former RAAF emergency airstrip. Budding racing car builder and driver, Ron Tauranac, had his interest piqued when he visited in his Austin 7.
    This is as much a reference book as a research essay. As such, it provides an excellent tool for those who desire to verify and locate old motor sport locations. A nice investment for an enthusiast’s library. 9/10 for the detail alone.
    I found it a most interesting read and will happily place it in my reference library.

  • Wayne Penrose

    This awesome book that I ordered arrived yesterday. Credit to researcher & writer Bill Pearson for this impressive creation. My father Allan gets a mention and there are pics of him racing his TQ Midget at Boxers Creek Speedway, Goulburn in the 1960s. A great & very interesting read.

  • Lynton Hemer

    When Bill Pearson first announced that he was writing a book about old motor racing venues, I thought he was hiding nothing, and when he said that he had a hundred and fifty to talk about, I knew he was crazy. The amount of hunting needed to get enough information to make it work would take forever. But with a lifetime of motor racing interest, and the careful collection of people’s reminiscences in person, in publications, and on social media, he’s been able to put together a very readable book.

    The number of speedway tracks that have come and gone in this country is amazing, built, operated, and maintained by local enthusiasts, both volunteers and business people, some surviving for decades, others only briefly, and their stories are fascinating. Then, there are well-known circuits like Warwick Farm and Oran Park in NSW, Altona, and Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne, Longford in Tasmania, and Surfers Paradise in Queensland. All of them are here

    All the venues are illustrated with photos of the racing, and Google Maps aerial photos overlaid with the track locations, all to encourage the reader to go and have a look when they’re in the area.

    I suspect that nobody else will ever bring together such a comprehensive volume of Australian Motor racing “places”, and the enthusiasm that Bill brings to the stories means that instead of a serious studious statistical history, we have one man’s passionate contribution to increasing our knowledge of a pastime we all enjoy.

  • Stephen Jones

    I received your book the other day, and I just want to say congratulations it is a great read. I can’t believe the amount of detail and time and effort you put into it

  • Ken Devine

    I congratulate Bill on publishing this great book.
    I appreciate the amount of research that goes into finding the details of race circuits on speedway tracks around Australia and finding the details and stories of some obscure ones like one in Bunbury WA that I had heard very little about.
    I was proud to see many photos from my collection used in the publication. I look forward to Bill’s next venture.

  • Will Hagon - motorsport commentator & journalist

    This book from avid motorsport enthusiast and historian, Bill Pearson makes me sad.

    I’m delighted to have it, but reading about so many great places that haven’t lasted is both good and bad. It’s great to have so many listed, with so much wonderfully researched information about them. Bill has done his work assiduously, talking to the right people, and finding fascinating facts from more than 200 different sources!

    The sad part is that so many failed, for a wide range of reasons. They reflect the passion of people who want to go perilously fast, but also that haven’t always been good at the finances of keeping them going. The other aspect, however, is population growth; as towns spread, newcomers to the motor racing area often complained about the noise – and won. The courts don’t seem to be on the side of motorsport.

    As Bill notes, without this book, most of us would not know of the many tracks that grew at the edge of regional towns, of the bigger, fancier places that held events like Australian Grands Prix, Australian Touring Car Championship races, or of the even less likely places, hill climbs - of which a few were where what are now Sydney residential areas. Nor of a couple of banked ovals.

    Although I’ve seen a fair few open and close, there are names and places I’ve never heard of, so thank you, Bill Pearson, for putting them on the record. Well done.
    And rest quietly those lost venues.

  • Dick Simpson

    The amount of research Bill has put into this book is incredible.

    In the twenty years, I attended race meetings as a photographer I managed to get to a fair few circuits. Sadly, about half of those fourteen are gone.

    However, Bill has managed to document one hundred and fifty closed racing circuits.
    I would never have dreamed that there were that many circuits in the whole country!
    It`s not happy reading, but it`s very informative to anyone that`s interested in the history of our sport.

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