It's informal name was "Maroubra Speedway". Not a dirt track Speedway, it was a large 1 mile concrete bowl, but never the less a very important and integral part of the evolution of Speedway in Australia. The bowl was built in 1925 on a huge sandhill near the corner of Fitzgerald Ave and Anzac Parade, Maroubra. The track, plagued by misfortunes, closed in 1927, occasionally opened in the 1930s and finally crumbled away. The "reported" crowd for the opening of Maroubra Speedway on the 5th December 1925
The official tablet states that it was laid on the 3rd October 1925.
A site plan of Olympia Speedway , Maroubra. NSW Australia.
Cars and bikes could lap
the bowl at 160 KPH
( 100 MPH )
The city of Sydney was North of this site.
This great photo taken of Hope Bartlett in a Bugatti in full flight in December 1926 gives a good look at the bowl and the banking.
Harry Cooper in a Ballot runs with Hope Bartlett in a Bugatti, wheel to wheel on what looks like the main straight.
A huge crowd in attendance, the only spectator view point.
American, Cecil Brown, one of the 100 MPH lap men, leads local rider Kevin Carmody who is not far behind.
A programme from Saturday afternoon, June 21st. 1930. Commencing at 2.15 pm sharp.
Eddie Behrmann is on the cover.
Some riders on the June 21st 1930 programme ( above ) were: Ron McCarthy 490cc Ogden Nortron, Jack Patman Ogden A.J.S., "Cyclone" Mookey ( who's real name was Harold Murdoch and who also raced dirt track at Maitland in it's formative years) on a 498 cc Ogden Triumph, Billy Conoulty 494 Douglas, Cecil Chawner, Chater Lea. 1936 World Solo Champion Lionel Van Praag was also entered but apparently did not ride on the day.
Sidecars saw Eddie Dark on an 1100 cc Harley, Percy Robinson on a 998 Indian, Jack Summerhayes on a 346 Harley
Jack Patman's time for Heat 11,
3 laps for under 500 cc Solos
was 1 min 49 2/5 seconds. ( av. 84 MPH )
Jack Patman was a contracted rider to Charlie Ogden.
Eddie Behrmann (left) was a popular rider at Maroubra and was a Golden helmet winner.
The great Reginald Gordon "Phil" Garlick in his Alvis accepting the "Lucky Devil Cup" on the 6th. February 1926.
Phil was one of the greats at Maroubra and lost his life on the bowl on the 8.1.1927.
His headstone at the South Head Cemetery, near Sydney overlooking the ocean, is his bust with helmet and steering wheel in his hands.
Maroubra's Fatalities List.
30.12.1925....Leo Salmon and his riding passenger/mechanic Harry Vaughan in practice.
17.07.1926....Sid Dutton - Solo Rider
08.01.1927....Reginald "Phil " Garlick - Speedcar.
5/6.02.1927....Freddie Barlow - Speedcar. (accident 5.2.27 died in hospital on 6.2.27)
24.11.1934....***James Margot riding passenger with MG driver Murray Maxwell.
*** see note bottom of page from Ron Madden.
14.06.1936...."Bobby Blake " ( real name Robert Coombes) - Solo rider in practice.
Barlow was the last competitor killed when the Speedway was operating as a professionally promoted circuit. Margot and Maxwell were competing in a motor club organized relay event and "Bobby Blake" went out for a spin long after the track had closed as commercial venue and when it was in a sad state of repair.
The only time spectators were injured was in the Maxwell /Margot accident. On that occasion ( an afternoon show ) spectators had climbed inside the wire fence behind which paying customer were supposed to be and crowded up against the wire catch fence which ran along the outside of the track on what is best described as the Start/ Finish straight.
According to most Press reports up, to 12 spectators were taken to the old Coast Hospital after Maxwell's MG snagged the catch fence, struck an upright steel pole and was projected over the catch fence into the area between the catch fence and the spectator fence.
There were no spectator fatalities at Maroubra.
When the track was opened , the only viewing areas for spectators were outside the Start/ Finish straight and on the infield. Nobody was allowed to watch from anywhere else.
Salmon. Vaughan, Garlick and Barlow all went off the top of the banking on the exit from the north-east curve and all ended up in an area between the track and Fitzgerald Ave.
Dutton came of his bike coming off the banking into the Start/ Finish straight and "Bobby Blake" came off on a damp track at the end of the straight. Maroubra went "bust" several times and there were surprisingly very few professionally run meetings. The track was used extensivley however for car testing, club race days and long distance record attempts and in one of these, Norman "Wizard" Smith and two co drivers set a new Australian 24 hour record in a Chrysler sedan.
As late as 1938 what remained of the concrete bowl was still occasionally used and Englishman, Peter Whitehead ran his ERA there prior to winning the inaugural Bathurst Grand prix.
Thank you to Historian, the late Jim Shepherd, Speedway history researcher Garry Baker, photographer John Stanley, Rod Harvey of the National Motor Racing Museum and legendary Australian Motor Sport photographer the late Byron Gunther for sharing this research and these great historic photos with us on Vintagespeedway...
The Totalisator Board ( for betting ) on the infield.
Racer , Peter White and his pit crew and his Fronty Ford
Housing encroachment on the disused Speedway 1936/1937.
This tablet is still buried on the old Speedway site today.
Two great John Stanley photos of 'Phil ' Garlick's headstone at South Head Cemetery, near Sydney, on Old South Head Rd., Vaucluse.
The magnificent "Lucky Devil Cup".
This trophy is now on show at the National Motor Racing Museum, located at the famous Mt Panorama racing circuit, Bathurst NSW.
A close up of the inscription on the " Lucky Devil Cup" won by Phil Garlick in 1926.
Cup photos courtesy of Rod Harvey of the National Motor Racing Museum, Bathurst NSW.
SATURDAY - 17th March 2007
After much research and preparation, Councillors, Bruce Notley-Smith and Robert Bellelli of the Randwick City Council oversaw the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at Coral Sea Park, Maroubra commemorating the old Olympia Motor Speedway. Also present at the ceremony were members of the NSW Vintage Speedway Associations, Historian Jim Shepherd, parliamentarian Peter Garrett and local Historians.
This plaque compliments the several other plaques that have been placed at old Speedway sites throughout Australia by the Vintage Speedway Associations of Australia.
Above: The commemorative plaque.
Above right: Councillor Robert Bellelli with an actual piece of the old racetrack that was originally opened in 1925.
Right: Councillor Bruce Notley- Smith conducts the ceremony on the 17-3-07. The covered plaque and piece of the old concrete race track to his right.
Ron Madden of Wagga Wagga has emailed me to say that it is J.S.Taylor, the Maroubra Speedway proprietor presenting the trophy along with Ron's Grandfather (with glasses) Herbert.J.Madden...thanks for the info Ron.
Advertisement for meeting of the 28th. August 1926.
Robert Coombes - aka. Bobby Blake.
Blake / Coombes lost his life on the bowl on 14.6.1936 in a practice ride after the track had ceased operation.
Photo courtesy of Mike Kemp in the UK.
Bobby Blake - Charlie Ogden- Jack Patman in the late 1920s.
Jack Patman at home in Greenacre NSW in 1995.
A note from Ron Madden ( May 2013)
After exhaustive research, I believe that I can very safely state that James Margot didn't die as a result of the accident at the Maroubra Speedway on 24 November 1934, nor did he die in NSW or Victoria in either 1934 or 1935 according to those State's BDM indexes. As I earlier indicated, there are numerous reports in the newspapers of the day that Margot was admitted to Prince Henry Hospital, but not one report on his death in any papers in 1934 or 1935. Also, subsequent mentions of the accident make no mention of any deaths and a 99 year old eyewitness to the accident (Kent Patrick's father) who has near photographic recall of the event recollects a radio report of Margot's release from hospital after about a week. In effect, there isn't even the smell of an oily rag to suggest that Margot died as a result of the 1934 accident. The driver Murray Maxwell, however, died only months later in March 1935 when he crashed a racing car he was testing in suburban St Kilda.
In my opinion, Margot's death should be removed from your lists of deaths that occurred at the Maroubra Speedway, unless concrete evidence emerges to the contrary, which from my perspective is a seemingly most unlikely scenario.
Ron Madden - Wagga Wagga.