The Gladstone Speedway season kicks off at the Gladstone Showgrounds.
The Gladstone Speedway season kicks off at the Gladstone Showgrounds. Gina Alexander

Speedway revs up

THE sound of engines revving will be bellowing from the Gladstone Showgrounds tonight when the Speedway hosts its first meet of the season.

Thousands of petrol heads and families are expected to fill the showgrounds in what organiser Robyn Reddacliff says will be a great night.

"We are contesting with a lot of other events which are on tomorrow night, including the Mount Larcom Rodeo," Reddacliff said.

"Plus it is the first event of our season, so we are hoping people will be excited and come down for a look."

Speedway drivers will be travelling from throughout Central Queensland to compete in the Super Stoker's, Amca Nationals and Go Karts.

"We have a few drivers who have indicated they will be camping at the showgrounds for the event, too, which is a great sign," she said.

"These guys are from Rockhampton so it is good to have their support for our event."

As well as racers, Reddacliff is looking forward to the support of the crowd.

"We always attract families. It really is great family entertainment. You don't need to like cars to be entertained," she said.

"We have had a little bit of rain the last few nights, too, so the track is moist meaning the action in the arena will be challenging. This makes for an entertaining night."

Gates open from 4pm with the racing action beginning at 6pm.

There will be food available including ice-cream, coffee and, of course, the bar will be in full swing.

History of the sport

Speedway racing began in Australia in the 1920s in Maitland near Newcastle in NSW.

In the 1930s dirt track racing fast became a spectator sport and amazingly up to 20,000 people would flock to the showgrounds around the countryside to witness the dirt gladiators do battle shoulder to shoulder, wheel to wheel.

As the 1940s approached the cars were getting faster and the drivers were beginning to wear long- sleeved leather jackets but the crash helmets were the same style.

1950s saw bigger tracks emerging. Windsor Speedway (NSW) was a flat dirt half-mile (800m) speedway which allowed faster racing with wide open spaces. It was typical to see three or even four racing abreast.

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