Posts Tagged ‘Alan Stephenson’

The white TR, is heading in the correct direction- the blue Healey has overshot his braking point (B Young)

Motorsport venues in Tasmania were a tad skinny in number prior to the opening of Baskerville near Hobart, and Launceston’s Symmons Plains circa 1960. Longford was great but it was a once a year deal over the March Labour Day long weekend.

So Quorn Hall, an ex-World War 2 airfield located on TC Clarke’s sheep grazing property was pressed into service. The 7,300 hectares, farmed by the same family since 1846 is on Lake Leake Road, Campbell Town 15km south of Launceston.

1952 (V Gee)

 

Jock Walkem’s #6 Norton or Vincent powered special going bush suspects Garry Simkin (B Young)

The ever interesting Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania Facebook page notes that ‘Quorn Hall Airfield was developed during WW2 to house the huge American bombers if the need to fall back to Tasmania occurred during an invasion of the mainland’, or the ‘North Island’ as the Tassies like to call the rest of us!

‘The runway is several kilometres long and about 50 metres wide. After the war (from November 1952) it was used for motorsport, essentially putting 44 gallon drums out and racing around them. The runway and access roads were used. Usage dropped off after the purpose made circuits opened, but it was still used for club events – standing quarter-miles etc until the end of the 1960s.’

It seems, as usual, the entrepreneurial motorcyclists beat us car dudes to the punch. The Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club organised a picnic ride to Quorn Hall in 1946 during which some races were run. ‘While the straw bales down the middle of the runway and use of oiled gravel access roads in a J-pattern may have been basic, unlike beach racing, you didn’t have to wait for the tide to go out and most of the 1 1/2 miles was sealed’ recorded Bike Australia.

2,000 people attended a combined car and bike meeting in 1951 organised by the Southern Motor Cycle Club and the Light Car Club. It was the first occasion on which ‘racing was officially noted.’

The Tasmanian Tourist Trophy was held there for the first time November 1952 with most of the national ‘bike stars of the day’ competing. The car racing was more club than national level, those honours went quite rightly to Longford.

Start of the Senior TT in 1952. Col #49 and Max #74 Stephens getting away smartly (Bike Australia)

 

Tasmanian Aero Club, Western Junction, date unknown (unattributed)

In fact the history of the site is a significant one in Tasmanian aviation.

The Tasmanian Aero Club was formed there site in 1927, the Western Junction Aerodrome (now Launceston Airport) was officially opened in 1929. The first passenger facility on the Apple Isle operated from there until August 1940 when the Royal Australian Air Force took over the place to house the ‘7 Elementary Flying Training School. Extra local ‘strips were built at Nile, Annandale, Valleyfield and Quorn Hall.

As the name suggests, 7 Elementary Flying Training School provided an introductory twelve-week flying course to those who had graduated from one of the RAAF’s initial training schools. It was the only RAAF base in Tasmania then. Flying ceased there in December 1944 with the school disbanded in August 1945.

Etcetera…

Western Junction Aerodrome in 1933.

These colour photographs are wonderful, unique. If any of you can help identifying cars/drivers please give me a yell and i will update the captions accordingly.

(HRCCT)

Bruce Gowans and John McCormack during a Historic Racing Car Club day out to Quorn Hall and Valleyfield (at Epping Forest) in 2016. They are standing on the Quorn Hall runway-circuit.

(HRCCT)

 

 

VW and Fiat 1100 (B Young)

 

Mick Watt competing in the first ‘Half-Hour’ race at QH in 1953 in Ford Anglia. This little car, nicknamed the ‘Magic Goat’ won 64 races.

 

(B Young)

What a magic panorama. Brian Higgins believes the competitors are Jack Petts and Geoff Smedley in Triumph TRs, Boyce Youl in the Jaguar XK and Mick Watt’s Ford Anglia.

 

 

(B Young)

 

MG. Love the dudes in the background  (V Gee)

 

(B Young)

 

(D Elliott)

Don Elliott, Holden Special at QH in the late-fifties.

This attractive little car was a mix of Skoda and Holden components, the engine used a Repco Hi-Power hhead fed by a side-draft twin-choke Weber.

Our friend in the Fiat again (B Young)

 

A couple of RAAF cub ‘flyboys’ with their Tiger Moths at Western Junction circa-1940.

 

(M Watt)

This shot is of Stan Jones in Maybach 1.

It is from Mick Watt’s Collection, no doubt taken on a day he was also competing. Stephen Dalton thinks the shot is probably closeby to QH at Valleyfield, one of the four airstrips mentioned above. He and fellow Victorian, John Nind (Cooper) raced there on November 4 and 5 1951. It’s only a short time after Jones acquired the car from it’s builder, the great Charlie Dean. The pair and sponsor Repco would have much success together in the ensuing years.

 

(T McGrath)

Alan Stephenson, Cooper Mk5 JAP Cooper misjudgement and consequences, not too bad.

(T McGrath)

Photo and other Credits…

Bob Young Collection via the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Vicki Gee, Don Elliott Collection, Mick Watt Collection, Terry McGrath from the Graham Howard Collection, Garry Simkin

Bibliography…

speedwayroadracehistory, ‘Tracks In Time: Quorn Hall’ Bike Australia July 2018, Terry Walker, Bike Australia

Tailpiece…

(B Young)

‘Holy ‘snappin rissoles’. That’s the swing-axle shit the motor magazines are rabbiting on about.

Finito…