Posts Tagged ‘Pingelly Great Southern Speed Classic’

The first Pingelly Speed Classic was held on a 2.5-mile round-the-houses course in the West Australian town 160km south-east of Perth on January 30, 1939.

The five event programme consisted of the handicap Great Southern Speed Classic, run concurrently with a scratch race, two five lap handicaps – one each for racing and sports cars – and a four lap handicap and relay race for stock (standard production) cars.

(K Devine Collection)

The Clem Dwyer Plymouth Special and Duncan Ord Bugatti T57T take the chequered flag during the inaugural Great Southern Speed Classic on a fabulous Wellington Street panorama.

The very successful Plymouth, powered by a side-valve straight-six was based on a damaged sedan which was heavily lightened and modified, whereas Ord’s blue-blood 3.3-litre straight-eight twin-cam Bugatti (chassis 57264, originally 57222) was an ex-Lord Howe machine. It was the race debut of the Plymouth and first Australian event for the Bugatti which had arrived from France not long before.

Alan Tomlinson MG TA Spl S/c won from Bill Smallman, MG TA with Roy Sojan third in his Chrysler Special ‘Silverwings’. Duncan Ord was fourth.

(K Devine Collection)

The round-the-houses racing tradition – unique to Western Australia and the envy of the other states – commenced when the good-burghers of Albany decided on a Back To Albany Festival in 1936. With that, three entrepreneurs of the West Australian Sporting Car Club – Eric Armstrong, Clem Dyer and J Warburton – motored down from Perth and successfully pitched the notion of a Monaco style street race around their fair city to the Council.

The race became the highlight of the festival and spawned similar races at Applecross, Bunbury, Dowerin, Narrogin – at which the 1951 Australian Grand Prix was held – Pingelly and others until the gruesome 1955 Le Mans disaster frightened local councils and led to a clampdown on racing on public roads. Not that they eliminated it completely, the WASCC had a tremendous relationship with the WA cops and ran events in a variety of places right into the 1960s.

(K Devine Collection)
(P Narducci Collection)

Two shots of Bill Smallwood’s MG TA Spl during the 1939 race. Smallwood and Clem Dwyer had been Tomlinson’s pit-crew in a staggering win for the young West Australian in the Australian Grand Prix held on the daunting Lobethal road circuit three weeks before.

Sadly, Pingelly was his last victory, Tomlinson, shown below there in 1939, was badly injured at Lobethal in 1940 and never raced again. See here;

(T Walker Collection)
(E Rigg Collection)

Clem Dyer aboard the Bartlett Special in 1939. He bought this machine, built around an 1100cc twin-cam Salmson engine on a trip to the UK. Modified with Brooklands in mind, it was fitted with a Cozette supercharger and was said to be good for 120mph.

Raced at Lake Perkolilli, he gave Ossie Cranston’s Ford V8 Spl a run for his money in 1936, but the car never achieved the success hoped, the demands of the Brooklands bowl and round-the-houses West Australian tracks being quite different.

Unattributed and unknown, perhaps Jack Nelson, Ballot Ford V8 Spl

(W Duffy Collection)

Bob Lee won the five-lap handicap aboard this Riley Brooklands in 1939, and went one better as shown here in 1940, when he won the Great Southern Flying Fifty – the race had been increased from 5 to 10 laps, 25 to 50 miles.

(K Devine Collection)

During the 1940 race. “Park Street Hospital Hill with the old nurses home in the background behind the chook-yard” quipped Jennie Narducci. It’s Harley Hammond in the Marquette Special from Barry Ranford’s Ranford Special. In a long successful career through until 1958, the latter built four specials.

The 1940 programme comprised five events; a 10 lap Tourist Trophy for under 1500cc stock machines, a 5 lap handicap for racing cars, 4 lapper for stock cars plus the 15 lap classic.


Harry Squires MG PB Spl S/c – looks more like a T-Type to me?


The intersection of Park and Parade Streets with Jack Nelson’s Ballot Ford V8 Spl in shot, 1940.

The bones of this car – #15 – were those of the ex-Jules Goux, Cooper brothers Ballot 2LS which met its death at Phillip Island in 1935. Les Cramp had just acquired the car and was killed. This machine raced on well into the 1950s – with no Ballot left – before Mick Geneve died at its wheel, by then Chev powered, at Caversham in 1959. A tribute car exists.

This local footbridge lasted into the 1960s, while one of the local ‘cockies tells us there are two Gilchrist sheep feeders “built by the dozen on a site between the present police station and Shire Office.” Love the power of FB! (K Devine Collection)

Harley Hammond again aboard the Marquette Special. The serving RAAF man did well in this immediate pre-war period with this attractive Buick 3.5-litre sidevalve six-cylinder powered special; Marquette was a shortlived Buick sub-brand.

He won the Great Southern Speed Classic in 1941 – the last race meeting in Australia before the lights went out – and the Patriotic Grand Prix held on the Applecross round-the-houses course 10km from the Perth CBD, several months before.

In fact the November 11, 1940 Applecross races were to have been the final event but the Pingelly organisers slipped in one final meeting on the Australia Day weekend, January 27 with funds raised from the five event programme for cars and ‘bikes in aid of the British Air Raid Relief Fund.


Ken Devine Collection, Peter Narducci Collection, Eddy Ring Collection, Warren Duffy Collection, ‘Around The Houses’ Terry Walker