The programme from the official opening of the new Penrith Speedway track,
8 Hour Day weekend,
4th October 1926.
Programme from May 1st 1936 under the promotion of EMPIRE SPEEDWAYS
Programme from the ANZAC Day meeting, April 25th 1938.
The land Penrith Speedway and Thornton Hall are / were on was a first land grant of Captain Daniel Woodriff. Thomas Smith later bought the 214 acres ( 86.67 hectares) and built his family home during the 1870s whilst he lived at The Red Cow Inn. He built and was the proprietor of The Red Cow in 1862, before the railway came through Penrith. ( Penrith is a western suburb of Sydney, at the foot of the famous Blue Mountains.)
PENRITH SPEEDWAY, in NSW Australia, held their first Speedway event on the Easter weekend of 19th and 21st April 1924. It was promoted by the the Western Suburbs Motor Cycle Club and was an all motrocycle programme.The first time time the track was used for motor car racing was 17th May 1924.
The track was 1 mile and 80 yards in circumference, 30 yards wide . Following the 2nd meeting on May 17th 1924 the track size was reduced to 1 mile and widened to between 75 and 100 ft.
Penrith Speedway was declared as " The World's Greatest Dirt Track" by International competitors who competed there over the years.
From 1941 onwards the Commonwealth Defence Department compulsorily aquired the land after the owner the Hon.Sydney Smith died in 1934. Penrith Speedway was obliterated. The last meeting reported was held at the Penrith Speedway in May 1941. Some Information supplied by Laura Player, great, great grandaughter of Thomas Smith from her publication 'Return to Historic Penrith Speedway 2000' and thank you also to David Manson.
Englishman Bill Reynolds in his Skirrow midget # 78
American midget ace, Paul Swedberg receives his trophy at Penrith in 1939. Man on far right is another American midget ace, Beale Simmons.
American Beale Simmons and his midget at Penrith
Motor cycle racing, both Solos and Sidecars also featured regularly on the programme at Penrith. Many great stars have ridden on the dirt mile. Americans, Paul Anderson, Johnny Seymour and Eddie Brink along with Aussies Dick Sulway, Tommy Benstead, Gus Clifton, Bobbie Blake, Lionel Van Praag ( 1936 World Solo Champion) Jim Sladden, Eddie Dark and Alf Walshaw. Hope Bartlett, Charlie East, Charlie Spurgeon, Les Burrows were but a few to drive the "big" cars on the circuit.
Map of Penrith Speedway and surrounds.
On the 9th of April 2000 we of the Vintage Motoring and Speedway movement paid our last respects to the old circuit ( or what was left of the outline) . Laura Player had organised the day and people walked the track that was available and several old cars were started and run on the bitumen outline.
Some of the Penrith type cars, stand on what we figured was as close to the starting line as we could get. Laura Player, far left.
The little Amilcar # 21 and the green front wheel drive Alvis actually raced on the old circuit.
9- 4 -2000
Cars and people on what was the first turn ( looking back towards the Start / Finish line) going north away from the start/finish line on the outline of the old track.
They would have been flat through here in the 1920s. This was the first turn looking north. The famous old home of Thornton Hall ( still standing in 2000) is off to the right
X marks the spot where the 2000 reunion took place.
Len " Curly" Cronin accepts his trophy for the Five Mile Race at Penrith in 1938. Eddie Dark, an Australian Speedway pioneer in both bikes and cars stands directly behind Curly.
Curly was Australian Speedcar Champion in 1941.
An aerial view of Penrith township, the Great Western Highway ( running right through the centre of town), the Nepean river in the foreground and the Penrith Speedway track, top left corner.
A big favourite of the Penrith crowds, Billy Conoulty on his Douglas. Date stamped 1926, this pic would have been studio posed. Photo by Hilton Kent - Smith and Julius Studios - Sydney. A report from researcher, David Manson, states " in the Final of the 10 mile Championship race at the Easter meeting of 19th to 21st April 1924 at Penrith Speedway, Billy Conoulty won on his 6 hp. Douglas in 9 minutes 45.6 secs. at 64 mph."
Now for your enjoyment a video clip of car racing at Penrith Speedway.
Sidecar racing at Penrith Speedway - circa 1938.
Overlay of the Penrith Speedway track on a current map of the area. Penrith Railway Station bottom centre of photo.
Click here.- may take a few seconds to load.
20.1.2015 - Just come to light in January 2015 is a fabulous collection of private photos of Penrith Speedway in the 1920s from Keith ( aka Norman ) Jones sent to us at Vintage Speedway by 'Norman's' son Peter...thank you Peter ..
a rare collection indeed.
Photos from Norman Jones.
Looking West - the Blue Mountains in the background.
Looking North - East - and turn one - the famous old building of Thornton Hall on the hill.
A view to the North - West - a service truck on the track.
The western rail lines in the foreground.
The famous Billy Conoulty on a solo during a motorcycle race.
A great photo taken from Penrith railway station showing just how close the race track was to the railway lines.
It's not a Speedway photo but this 'Speed Lighthouse' was a road safety device situated before a turn in the road at Emu Plains ( not far from the Speedway) on the old Western Hwy. warning motorists of the danger of the 'curve'.
Thank you to Peter Jones for sharing this very rare collection.
Easter Monday - April 1st 1929
Billy Conoulty at Penrith - 1925-
Photo courtesy of Garry Baker.
A fabulous 1/2 hour UTube clip on Penrith Speedway in the 1930s - click on the link above.
Courtesy of Super 100MPH.
A 1943 aerial view of the old Penrith Speedway and Army Barracks - supplied by Andrew Soulby - thanks Andrew.