G.V.A.C

Get the RUSH at Rushworth

 

The Goulburn Valley Auto Club

The Goulburn Valley Auto Club was originally formed in 1966, when a group of motoring enthusiasts first placed an advertisement in the local Shepparton paper asking for expressions of interest in forming a motor sports club. A general meeting was held on the 14th of August that year and the Goulburn Valley Auto Club was formed, with Mr. Barry Myers elected as the inaugural President.

Originally a small group of 9 members, the GVAC started the long and hard search to find the land, and the necessary funds, on which to build their race track. The Club stared by approaching the many councils and shire in the area to discuss the possibility of using some crown land or waste land to build a track to race on, but as with the modern day their proposals were quickly rejected by the local governments. However with the generous help of the Durgalong Recreational Reserve Trustees, via contact from local resident Keith Perry, land on the eastern side of the Murchison golf club on the Goulburn Valley highway Murchison east was designated for the set up of the race track.

Funding the project became a major hurdle so the club set a membership fee of $2 .00, ran raffles and any other various types of fundraising to get the ball rolling. Due to the tireless work of all the members and their families the GVAC ran their first race meeting in September 1969 at the Murchison East race track. The track was built as a circuit unlike today’s speedways

The meeting was a roaring success and a true testament to the Members and volunteers of the club at that particular time. All races were conducted by racing clockwise, as compared to today's type of pronominally anti- clockwise racing. Initially the racing surface was a graded gravel track, but the dust posed a problem, so to combat the dust the club went to all the garages in the area , collecting all the old oil they could and poured in on to the racing surface. This solved the dust problem but unfortunately the oil made for slippery conditions and not to mention the cleaning up of the cars afterwards!

But racing at Murchison was always an up hill battle. The track was built on a flood plane and many a meeting had to be cancelled due to the complex been under water. Unfortunately neither the GVAC nor the Golf Club was willing to spend enough capital on the site to improve the facility. The Murchison Golf Club was also looking to expand and needed the land that was been utilized bit the GVAC to continue the development of their golf club

 

Barry Myers hard at it

 


 

By this time the GVAC was fast becoming a bigger club with lots of extra numbers joining from all towns in the area. A committee was formed to secure more land; this committee again approached the local councils and shires and nominated 3 sites, the old rubbish tip between Shepparton and Mooroopna, the trotting track at Kialla and the co- use of the Shepparton showground’s. All proposals were again quickly rejected .Whilst looking for land to build the race track the GVAC was fast running out of options.

Meanwhile the Club approached the Rushworth Auto Club who had built their own speedway, to lease their premises on the nine mile Road, once a month to continue ongoing fundraising whilst continuing the search for land. Ironically the GVAC initially only wanted to lease the Rushworth Speedway for no longer than six months.

So in the early 1970’s the GVAC conducted its first proper “speedway” meeting as opposed to the circuit at Murchison east. Meanwhile the Rushworth Auto Club approached the three individuals, Mr Ray Read, Mr Arthur Garvey and Mr. Barry Myers to run privately promoted race meetings, as a non profit organization on behalf of their club. These Men ran meetings under the “Waranga Promotions “ banner for a number of years until the Rushworth Speedway Club finally disbanded in 1974

The GVAC made the final decision to take over the lease of the Rushworth Speedway Complex from the Rushworth Speedway Club in 1975. The land was owned by the Colliver family and a gentleman’s handshake agreement was reaches with a minimum of fuss. The original speedway was 370 meters around the pole line, ”D” shaped, flat with No banking what so ever and a dirt/ granite mix surface.

Fred Sutherland in fine form


 

 

 

The start land finish line was on the west side with only a timber fence down the front straight, but No safety fence on either corner or the back straight. So a miscalculated passing maneuver usually ended up leaving the driver either lost some where in the whroo forest, or worse, stuck in the dam at the southern end of the track. At the time the pits were situated on the northern end of the race track leaving the spectators who were growing at a rapid pace with not a lot of space to view the racing.

By !977  the GVAC realized it was time to do some much needed renovations due to safety concerned=s for the drivers. Firstly a fence was built around the whole track; the pits were moved to the back straight (where they still are today) and the spectator facilities expanded to cater for more people

Speedway was now becoming a major sports player in the area with tracks now running on a regular basis at Bendigo, Euroa, Nagambie Seymour, Wilby, Wahgunyah, Boort, Finley, Alexandra, Cobram, Lockington, Beechworth, Wangaratta, Swan hill and Echuca to name a few. Some of these clubs banded together to form a unified body called the North East Hot Rod Association (NEHRA) later to be renamed the North East Speedway Association (NESA) zone 7 through the affiliation with the Victorian Speedway Council (VSC)

During most of this era the GVAC relied heavily on the Ladies Auxiliary to fund a lot of the progress. Through the endless hard work and monies generated by the Auxiliary the club was able to move forward at a very rapid rate. At this time the GVAC had now become one of the largest clubs now affiliated with the VSC and regularly ran major race meetings including numerous Victorian Championships in both the sedan and open wheel classes. The club also ran many annual “signature’ events as the Honda trophy for Sprint cars and the Ian Jackson memorial for open sedans attracting competitors from right across Victoria and southern New South Wales.

Bushy Dunlop leads the way

 


 

 

 By now the 1980’s were in full swing and the speedway had to compete with all other types of sporting associations for sponsorship and the paying public to enable the club to run sufficiently. In 1984 the Club decided the best way to do that was to run all kinds of events that would guarantee success and the long term viability of the GVAC. The answer was to conduct a demolition derby at the end of a race meeting. The event was a massive success, with easily the biggest crowd ever to attend a meeting staged by the GVAC, raising quite a substational amount of money so the Club could move into the next phase with the financial security it needed.

By the middle of 1984 the Club realized that to keep abreast of changing times the Club had to make some changes too. The decision to completely rebuild, not only the race track but the whole complex was to be undertaken. The draft was for a bigger, wider race track with concrete retaining walls, properly designed to no longer be a “D” shaped, and eventually lighting for night racing. The remainder of the complex would also get upgraded facilities, including proper toilets, running water, and other improvements. With the help of conveyors, laser graders and input from Club members of the era, the new track specifications were now to be 44o meters around the pole line and 660 meters around the fence, 22 meter wide corners and 16 meters wide along the straights.

The corners were to be banked 6 degrees and the straights banked 4 degrees .Other significant changes including changing to a clay based racing surface, moving the control box to the eastern side of the circuit, a new entry gate and opening the spectator viewing to utilize approximately 75% of the track fence, giving everyone plenty of space to see the racing all around the speedway

The Hot Rod Boys 1978



 

After demolishing the whole track, control box, fences. spectator mound, pit offices, toilets, and canteens, the rebuilding process took two years to complete with every weekend being used for this massive task. Quite often the team of workers had to improvise many of the tools needed to do much of the work, especially the concrete retaining wall which was built section by section. Most of the rebuilding was done on site as well, making the process much harder. Eventually spending over 180 000 dollars, and countless tens of thousand Man hours, the new, significantly improved Rushworth Speedway complex was finally ready and re- opened.

The first official race meeting was held on the 8th of June 1986 although a practice day was held a few weeks earlier than the official opening. The honorable Member for Moira, Mr. Ken Baxter conducted the ceremony by cutting a ribbon draped across the start line, there fore beginning another new era for the GVAC. The most important and emotional event wasn’t a car race at all , as the GVAC committee fittingly re-named the new front straight after Bob “Bushy’ Dunlop and the new back straight after Frank Ratcliffe I honor of the tireless work done by these out standing Club people during the track renovations.

No members before or since could ever be more proud than these two men were on that day. Sadly Mr. Radcliffe is no longer with us, passing away a few short years later, while Mr. Dunlop is still a very active and highly respected club personality.

The race meeting it self was very successful with competitors from right across Australia, including Tasmania in attendance. Again the GVAC proved how persistence, motivation and plain hard work was still the recipe for success. The club continued to rub race meetings each month to assure it survival.

Peter Jacobson doing what He did best


 

 

In the early 1990’s another exceptional Club member was rewarded for his contribution to the speedway complex, the corner at the northern end was named in honor of Geoff Collins. Affectionately known as “Chubb’s”, Mr. Collins was an original member who even today, still takes a keen interest in proceedings of the GVAC, and the Rushworth Speedway Complex. It was at this time the GVAC became incorporated Club, thus protecting the member, possessions and structures the Club now owned

 

In 1992 the Club started to assess the viability of lighting the complex for night racing. Although first mooted earlier when the complex was been completely revamped, the cost at the time made the project unviable. Initially fifteen light poles were purchased from the Echuca City Council after the council replaced the lighting along the northern highway through the town. They were takes to Rochester where Ron Williams, Dennis Hutchins and the members in that area banded together to change the light poles to suit the club’s application. The lights poles were then erected evenly spread around the race track, whilst the lights themselves were purchased from the Shepparton Trotting Association who were revamping the troting track at the Shepparton Pace Way in Kialla

 

The local council had no plans for any electricity supply for the speedway area, so the search was on for a sufficient power source. A generator formally used by the Pentridge Prison was fund and purchased, before been assembled n an old train carriage as a safety precaution. Powered by a Rolls Royce turbocharged engine and producing 175 KVA, the generator was powerful enough to run the whole complex quite easily.

 

Now with a more than sufficient power supply the speedway was upgraded with electronically controlled track lights, also enabling better communication from the Chief Steward to the many volunteers and the pit office, and commentating facilities. How ever tragedy struck on the 29th January 1994 when the then President Mr. Paul Benton fell whilst adjusting a light pole situated between turns one and two which killed Him instantly. The GVAC acknowledges Mr. Benton’s passing with a memorial event named in his honor for the standard saloons.

 

By 1997 the complex was finally ready for a night race meeting. The lights were officially switched on and used on the 25th of March and the meeting ran without any hiccups what so ever. Racing started at 6 pm and continued non stop until 11pm. Again success for the many hard working volunteer club members, and a testament to their hard working attitudes.

 

With the new Millennium fast approaching more improvements needed to be done. More track and pit lighting needed to be erected, a house was built for the pit office staff and medical facilities, all the while the GVAV continually conducted successful race meetings. With the unfortunate demise of the Bendigo Showground’s Speedway the GVAC recorded an influx of new members swelling the membership numbers to record proportions. New classes were also been developed to encourage new talent to the sport.

 

2001 bought another accolade to a very worthy and long standing Club member. The Southern corner of the track was named after Mr. Ken Chalcraft who joined the club in 1969 while living in Murchison. Mr. Chalcraft was instrumental to the Club during all rebuilding phases and still is actively involved with not only the running of the Club bit is still competing and winning races on the track

 

With the new century came the new developments. More Victorian Championships and major events for all types of speedway classes were conducted in every season. The  drivers in the Club were also continuing to perform very well on the national scale, whilst the 2003the GVAC also staged its first ever National title, the Australian Grand Prix Midgets Championship. Unfortunately this meeting was postponed due the generator power board malfunction, but ran with the usual GVAC success at a later date. The Rolls Royce generator finally succumbed in March 2005 when a huge fireball destroyed the engine completely.A brand new generator was purchased from Queensland and installed in the same railway carriage. A Kubota 200KVA generator was chosen to power the GVAC into the 21st century.

 

However October 2004 will forever be remembered as the most important date in the history of the Club. The Executive Committee signed and sealed the sale of the property, approximately 40 acres, on which the Rushworth Speedway Complex was built and maintained by the GVAC. After almost 40 years, construction of 2  complete racing complexes, over 500 race meetings, and turning over millions of dollars, one of the longest running and proudest clubs in Australian Speedway history, the Goulburn Valley Auto Club finally has a place to truly call ……..HOME !

 

The GVAC has been able to continue to produce excellent and outstanding race meetings right up till current day. In July 2006 the Victorian Speedway Council awarded the GVAC the prestigious “Over all Victorian State Club Award” at its annual presentation evening. These awards are voted on by all VSC affiliated clubs and their delegates. Another true testament to how the GVAC is regarded among the whole speedway fraternity.

 

The inaugural “Goulburn Valley Auto Club Hall of Fame Awards” are being presented by the state Member of parliament for the Greater City of Shepparton the honorable Mrs Jeanette Powell. These awards regognise the outstanding contribution these members have made to the GVAC both on and off the track in three catergories : Club Member, Open Wheel, and Sedan Driver. All of these worthy recipients have upheld the values and integrity of the GVAC at all times, and have represented the Club with great distinction.

 

so lets keep getting the Rush at Rushworth !

 

 

 

 

Wanted

Wanted Urgently

To any one who has any information about the History of the Rushworth Speedway

Please contact Me

Your possessions will be handled with the greatest of Care

Welchie*

remember its Your club to that We are trying to promote!!

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