Post by bobjeffreson on Jun 29, 2012 19:18:56 GMT 1
This is the car that started the sprintcar boom in Australia. In 1972 it was brought to Liverpool Speedway in Sydney Australia, by Johnny Anderson to race against the local Super Modifieds. It was a revelation and the seed was sown.......sprintcars had arrived! Gary Rush purchased the car and was unstoppable against the local oppostion. The car turned out to have a very colourful history. It was the famed, Hank Henry built Fike Plumbing Special, driven to great success across the USA by one Rufus Parnelli Jones!
Post by bobjeffreson on Jun 29, 2012 19:37:11 GMT 1
Just found this by famed Australian Speedway historian, Dennis Newlyn.
THE SPRINTCAR REVOLUTION IN AUSTRALIA
BY DENNIS NEWLYN The evolution of sprintcar racing in Australia is the direct result of two factors . . . a cycle within the framework of speedway in this country and the overwhelming popularity of sprintcars in America. Tradition shows that what happens in the USA later becomes reality on the Australian oval track scene, and so it was with sprintcars. Sprintcar racing had been part of the American racing scene since the thirties, but for most of that time was overshadowed by midgets. However, by the late ‘sixties, American sprintcar racing had grown in status and was set to totally dominate speedway in future years. Meanwhile, in Australia, a transition also took place. Solo bike racing was the big attraction in the ‘forties, then stockcar racing hit the scene like a tornado in the ‘fifties, while speedcars had their incredible reign during the golden era of the ‘sixties. Come the ‘seventies, Australian speedway was looking for something new and super spectacular. Sedans were doing good business around the nation as the ‘seventies unfolded and it appeared super modfieds, after starting off as hot rods in the ‘sixties, had travelled about as far as they could go despite their popularity at the box office. Sprintcars were the giant killer in waiting! Here in Australia we kept hearing and reading about these awesome machines called sprintcars and their exploits on American tracks. How these things with and without wings created earth tremors just merely by firing up its engine. We were told that sprintcar racing moved mountains, pounded the ground into submission and turned people white with fear. They were big, frightfully fast, devoured people who treated them wrongly and in the wrong heads were deadly! Former three times World Formula One Champion Jackie Stewart reputedly once described sprintcars as the greatest spectacle left in motor racing.” He’s correct! The wee Scott, who was a sensation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the mid-sixties, was left speechless after witnessing sprintcar racing in America for the first time. These are the cars which made Indy 500 winners AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones and Johnny Rutherford living legends. These same cars almost claimed the life of Rutherford when he rode out a horrifying flip clear over the wall in a cageless sprintcar at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in 1966. By 1971, the pulsating sound of sprintcars had echoed as far as Australia. A new era was rapidly approaching. The sport was heading toward a revolution. The learning curve had finished; it was time for some practical experience! Incredibly, though, we had reached this point after some eight years earlier the call to introduce sprintcar racing into Australia beckoned and we declined the invitation! In 1963, Sydney’s former NSW and Australian Super Modified Champion Bill Warner wanted to introduce a fully imported American sprintcar onto the local scene. But race-controlling officials would not give Warner permission to buy a sprintcar. So instead he bought a super modified sportsman racer out of San Jose, California. It’s now documented history how Warner and his orange number 26 “Mooneyes” Chevy Corvette re-wrote the record books. Between 1964 and 1970 the Warner car changed the face of Australian super modified racing. The Warner car resulted in sleeker and better-constructed super modifieds here. “Mooneyes” also largely contributed to the introduction of the V8 Chevy engine into local super modified racing. History was set to be repeated a few years later when another car was set to change the face of Australian super modified racing. This time it was a fully imported sprintcar! The sleek racer was the Anderson sprintcar out of Sacramento, California. Californian Johnny Anderson was contracted by Sydney’s Liverpool City Raceway in 1971. Anderson’s younger brother Billy was a sensation at Liverpool in 1969 when he won the NSW Super Modified Championship (driving the American Larry Burton modified) on three wheels during a daylight show after breaking an axle on the last corner. Billy, at the time, was on US Navy duty and this part-time racer left an indelible mark on the locals. His brother, Johnny, was set for a repeat performance, but in this case, it was not only the driver that took centre stage and had everyone talking. John and Billy’s father owned a smash repair shop – Broadway Andy’s – in Sacramento. Parked in the corner of the garage was a beautiful red, white and blue sprintcar – a car built to win, a car built to ultimately change the face of a nation thousands of miles away. Liverpool Raceway’s General Manager Mike Raymond travelled to America to sign Johnny Anderson for Down Under appearances. After seeing the Anderson sprintcar in absolute mint condition, he persuaded Johnny to bring the car to Australia. The 1971-72 era represented volatile times as the Anderson car drove not only into victory lane but controversy after controversy. The era also is clearly remembered for the exploits of Johnny Anderson as he ran rampant over the opposition. But just like when Bill Warner debuted his fully imported American super modified in 1964, the Anderson car was the talk of the town. It created incredible publicity. The crowds came in their thousands to see this “different” car in action. All the predictions concerning the incredible impact of sprintcar racing on the unsuspecting locals had been proven correct. The fans could not get enough of the car. Liverpool Raceway had pulled off yet another masterstroke. In Australia, there was no turning back: sprintcars were here to stay! If one car created so much interest, what would an entire field do to the national scene? Imaginations ran wild, nobody was really sure just what would happen, except that the days of the super modified in Australia were well and truly numbered. These were exciting times, but the jubilation later turned to controversy as storm clouds loomed on the horizon. The Anderson car remained in Australia and was driven by Garry Rush. Rushie picked up some local sponsorship from the Marsden Real Estate Group and took to the track. Then the NSW club and national council threatened to ban the car. The controlling bodies insisted the sprintcar was fitted with a clutch and so a formula 5000 unit was installed. However the dispute over the legality of the Anderson sprinter raged. Emotions ran high, arguments and ongoing battles both on and off the track were part and parcel of these incredible times. Garry Rush was caught up right in the middle of the drama. At the height of the controversy one night at Liverpool, the moment the Anderson sprintcar appeared on the circuit, every other competitor driving a super modified returned to the pits. In late 1972 open warfare broke out at Liverpool. Rush and arch-rival Sid Hopping shared the front row of a trophy dash event – Rush in the Anderson car and Hopping aboard a new Jim Hulbert CAE modified out of California. In the run through the first turn Rush was left with no room to move at the top of the track and rammed the fence. The Anderson car overturned as the rest of the field moved around the circuit before coming to a halt in the main straight. Rush was fuming, obviously enough was enough. He extracted himself from the car and ran 150 metres to the main straight where he confronted Hopping with a flurry of punches. Hopping was still seated in his car as officials attempted to control Rush. Nobody ever in their wildest dreams realised how just one car could create so much drama and controversy. Sprintcar racing in Australia was going through a tough acceptance period. Even as far as Western Australia, the presence of the Anderson sprintcar was being felt. A similar car to the Anderson sprinter was constructed and destined to change the direction of local racing. That car was the number 22 Geoff Brown sprintcar that was built off American plans and designs. The car was a blueprint of American technology and was driven by former sidecar ace Billy Sullivan. The car was decked out in the colours of Brown’s favourite football team, Richmond, but unfortunately did not equal the winning rate of the Aussie Rules footy team. It ran with limited success, but its real achievements came in the workshop after a number of local drivers constructed similar looking cars. The ex-Anderson sprintcar finally became accepted and later raced at Perth’s Claremont Showground during the 1972/73 season. The car made its WA debut, with Rush at the wheel, on the occasion of the 1972/73 WD & HO Wills Craven Filter National Super Modified Championship. While Rush did not win the title, former Anderson car had local constructors pouring over the machine as measurements, photos and notes were recorded. Local hero Alf Barbagallo went one better, however, the next season and debuted a fully imported American sprintcar, while Noel Bradford followed in Barbagallo’s tyre tracks and debuted a new Don Edmunds car from California. Meanwhile, the eastern states were not left behind WA in the push for sprintcars. Well-known Melbourne driver and and racecar builder John Sidney had long been an admirer of American sprintcar technology and in the early ‘seventies constructed his own neat looking sprintcar under his company’s Oval Track Racing banner. Sidney was later destined to become a key player in the Australian sprintcar movement when he aligned himself with American craftsman Gary Stanton and set up a sprintcar production line out of his Melbourne base. Before all this took place, Sydney’s Jeff Pickering purchased a sprintcar in 1973, brought to Australia by American Gary Patterson, while in Brisbane colourful Ron Wanless was one of the first big name drivers to switch from super modifieds to sprintcars. By 1974 sprintcar racing in Australia had taken a stranglehold and as the ‘seventies continued, sprintcar numbers dramatically increased. Racecar builders Sid Moore (Sydney) and the Gardner brothers in Brisbane turned their attention to sprintcars. When Sydney’s Parramatta City Raceway opened in 1977, Moore had a fleet of sprintcars, with drivers Rush, Bob Tunks and the late Wayne Fisher in his team. As the ‘seventies gave away to the eighties sprintcars in Australia boomed. But it was not only their performances on the racetrack that created waves. Sprintcars in Australia became an industry as yet again we followed American trends. John Sidney, now well established with his OTR brand, was joined by another prominent player in the marketplace, Bob Aysom who put together an Australian franchise with the American Gambler factory and began importing their winning sprintcar brand. It was not long before interstate dealers were established and sprintcar racing was big business on and off the track. Tognotti, Nance, Lloyd, Stanton, OTR, Gambler and in more recent years Maxim and Avenger have become the popular sprintcar trademarks. Meanwhile Perth’s Geoff Murphy for some years now has been churning out a fine product over in the west. In keeping with this incredible sprinter boom in Australia, in 1987 Con Migro at Perth’s Claremont Speedway, hosted the World Sprintcar Championship as part of Perth’s America’s Cup Festival of Sport. Ten Americans were brought to Australia for the event, but it was Garry Rush who walked away with line honours. The event was staged over three nights – February 5, 6 & 7, 1987 and was a landmark event in Australian sporintcar history. Americans have played a big part in the development of the sport in this country. None more than the KINSERS. Steve Kinser first raced here in 1979 with the Larry Burton team (which also contained Doug Wolfgang and Jimmy Sills) but in 1985 Liverpool Raceway imported the Kinser clan – Steve, Randy, Mark and Kelly – for a national tour. Steve, and to a lesser extent Randy, became regular visitors to Australia over the remainder of the 90s. The Kinsers joined a host of Americans who have raced sprintcars and helped development of sprintcars here in Australia. Just where do sprintcar go from here? The division still enjoys incredible popularity, is the number one category in Australian speedway, and there’s no sign at the moment that scenario will ever change. The section has outstripped any other category in the history of Australian speedway as far as its reign is concerned. Any major sprintcar show in Australia will attract a bumper crowd. The John Hughes’ World Series Sprintcar travelling road show, inaugurated in 1987, clearly demonstrates the incredible popularity of sprintcars. Hughes and WSS were in the right place at the right time to jump on the bandwagon of sprintcar hysteria and his national tournament has played a significant part in the history of Australian sporintcar racing. Running costs presents the biggest threat to the continuing domination of sprintcars in this country, but costs will always be a factor regardless of category. Simply, whilstever fans want sprintcars and promoters keep promoting ‘em, the sprintcar domination could continue for many more years.
Post by haflinger121 on Jun 30, 2012 13:56:20 GMT 1
Agreed ytf, totally absorbing, even if it does contain the odd typo. I am also in a position to know how much research will have gone into Newlyn being able to write that piece with such authority and, believe me, it's plenty.