Monday, June 28, 2010

Catalina Park......a little known road race circuit in NSW, Australia.

As soon as the word Catalina appears, thoughts drift to the island, Santa Catalina Island off the coast of California some two hours from Los Angeles where motorcycle races were held in the 1950's, but Catalina Park was the name of a road racing circuit at Katoomba, West of Sydney some 80km in the Blue Mountains at an elevation of around 3500', snuggled in a gully on the edge of the town and home to Motor Racing and for a shorter time, Motorcycle Racing from 1960-1969. 
Various views exist as to it's being build from a white trash settlement where no-hopers built up a shanty town and aboriginal women were encouraged to make occasional visits, a place almost permanently shrouded in fog and the smoke from camp fires such that the locals hated it and welcomed the local Council plans to build a motor racing circuit to it being an Aboriginal sacred site for the local Gundungarra and Darug tribes of the area, which in the end forced its closure.

I'm not here to comment on any of this, rather to look, with photos of a motorcycle road race meeting 11th September 1966 which I attended and took some photos, the negatives of which I recently scanned and list here.....
Oddly enough I recall going to Katoomba as a boy with my family by steam train in about 1954 for a weeks holiday in a rented house close to Catalina Park, so called because of a Catalina aircraft moored on a concrete block in the centre of a lake was never flown in, rather dismantled and brought in by truck in 1952, and reassembled as a tourist  attraction, finally being pulled off and on to the lake bank, then sold off for scrap in 1958.
The track still exists and you can walk around it, however no maintenance, water seepage and overgrowth has caused it to collapse in places.
I've located , on a blog, whose owner I can't ascertain,
some photos taken recently and some follow at the end of the blog.
Reference is made and acknowledged to conversation with motorcycling historian and editor of Old Bike Australasia, Jim Scaysbook, a Wikipedia reference and the blog mentioned for information.
Left click on the images to enlarge, where possible ( some files are very small).

Plan of the circuit...

The circuit, lined with wooden planks wasn't real forgiving in an accident....

#77 John Bauskis, Honda 125cc CR93 production racer.

#97 Terry Smith, squish head Venom Velocette special.
#41 Ray Curtis, New Imperial 250cc special...1934 engine in a Smith frame
 ( local version of the UK Beasley frame).
#9 Noel Manning, Vincent special...for a few years Manning was invincible in unlimited sidecar races.
#63 Ron Toombs. 
An email from Geoff Clatworthy comments ...."We believe the photo is Malcolm Sullivan's 250 MOV Velo in a  frame made by Malcolm similar to  Hendo's 4 valve G50 in the National Motor Racing Museum at Bathurst. Norton forks, Honda front wheel, Hendo modified rear wheel, fairing painted red..."

1 comment:

Grandpa Jimbo said...

The layout is similar to Willow Springs in So. California, only a tad smaller and narrower. It's present condition looks very much like some sections of US Hwy. 99, the Grapevine, which can still be accessed by hearty souls in T-Series MG's, (at least in the '70's).

Jim A. Tucson, AZ