Posts Tagged ‘Longford Racecourse’

Reg Hay, Blackburn, on his way to victory in the 1925 unlimited championship, Longford (K Hay)

All too often we car blokes forget the trail blazed to create or use racetracks by our motor-bike racing buddies.

I knew it was the leather clad brigade who are responsible for the first Longford road-racing meeting in 1953 (and were a key part of the meetings until 1966). Bless them. I didn’t realise their Longford contribution dates back to the twenties- thad’ll be the 1920s folks.

Some of the earliest social runs organised by the Tasmanian Automobile Club (membership 50/50 cars/bikes) were from Launceston to the Blenheim Inn at Longford. Shortly thereafter, inevitably, members wanted to see ‘how fast she would go’. The long, straight road from Perth to Longford, starting at the Perth end was the chosen stretch for these one mile timed runs.

Fifty years later, the other end of that straight stretch (Pateena Road) formed Longford’s Flying Mile.

Quickest car during the first of these meetings was a Mr Heathcote’s Coventry Humber, a heady 72kmh, fastest bike was Percy Harrison’s Griffon, which did 83kmh.

Charles King and L Rosevears, Longford 1925 (K Hay)

 

While I’m getting all misty-eyed about Longford again. Tasmanian Govt Railways H3 crossing the South Esk River at Longford enroute to Devonport, April 17, 1965. Eight of these heavy-freight locos were built for the TGR by The Vulcan Foundry, Newton-Le-Willows, England, and delivered in October 1951. 6 of the 8 were preserved but not this one (G Oliver)

 

Starters before the 5 lap unlimited championship, Longford 1925. #4 Reg Hay won on his Blackburn (K Hay)

Into the twenties race meetings were held at the Longford horse racing track. Built in the 1840s, the thoroughbred track is one of the oldest in Australia, it is 3km from ‘Pub Corner’ in Longford village.

Even though the roll-on, roll-off ferry from Devonport to Port Melbourne only commenced in the late fifties plenty of riders from the North Island made the trip on the smaller ferry with their ‘bikes to race in these twenties meetings “where Victorian star Charles Disney had to fight for his victories against some very quick local first-timers.”

Reg Hay travelled the other way and did much winning on Victorian speedways in the summer, returning to Tassie to win other events including 24-Hour Trials in the cooler months. Later he moved to the UK just before the war to captain the Australian Speedway Team.

When he returned to Tasmania after the war he was the chief starter at Quorn Hall and Valleyfield and then later at Longford and Symmons Plains, I wonder if he ever did some practice laps on the Longford road course…

Rolling start for the 600s at Longford in 1924 (Weekly Courier)

Credits…

‘The Examiner’ Launceston, Kevin Hay, Geoffrey Oliver, Weekly Courier, Sydney Morning Herald

Tailpiece…

Rolling the Longford clock forward 35 years, Australian international Jack Ahearn, with Long Bridge in the background, lines his Norton up for the uphill Newry Corner during the March 1961 meeting.

The Bondi born veteran aces best result was second in the 1964 world 500 championship behind MV’s Mike Hailwood. See here for a piece on Ahearn; https://www.oldbikemag.com.au/jack-ahearn-man-reasons/

Finito…