Rotorua Rugby Park speedway (for
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Some months ago a Graeme Frost in Adelaide emailed and asked why Rotorua Rugby Park was not listed on the web site list of NZ Speedways. He sent scans of the front cover of the program which showed indeed a meeting was held there and the drivers included Bob Tattersall and Bob Andrews amongst the solo riders.
It is an example of how small the world is. Graeme got the program from someone in America, possibly because of the Tattersall connection. I contacted Gordon McIsaac, the Guru of NZ speedway records and he said yes indeed, one meeting was held there in the 1965/66 season, and suggested I contact Reece Facoory who was the track manager.
Reece remembered it well. Harley Arthur was running the Spring’s at the time and had Tattersall over here, so wanted to get the best value by running as many meetings as possible with him as the star attraction.
Reece remembers finances were a little stretched at the time and that he and Harley went down to Rotorua and spent several days getting the track ready and doing the promotion. To save money they both spent the first night sleeping in their car! That proved a little rough so the next night it was into a motel.
Many truck loads of pumice was dumped and smoothed but not smooth enough! Tattersall was heard to remark, “God dam it! when the car in front disappears down a hole so you can’t see him, then the track is too dam rough.” But the meeting was held and included TQ’s, solo’s and midgets.
Further meetings for stock cars were
held in 1966/67, 1967/68 and 1968/69 before the Rotorua Stock Car Club
opened their own track at Paradise Valley in December 1970. Graham McLachlan
reports that he competed there in an Auckland team against the Rotorua team.
Laurie Neill was the promoter and Graham reports that the track was more
rectangular than oval as it was laid around the rugby field.
Bruce Nicholson sent in this piece to include.
Hi, I see you have a short piece about the old rugby park speedway. I think the first stockcar meeting may have been late in 1966. John Lind who was the owner of Kimbolton garage in Fielding was the first promoter and the driving force behind getting it up and running. I was one of the drivers who made it out for the first night and drove the old number six car that Graham Handisides drove with much success in Palmerston North. This car belonged to John Lind and we got the use of it for the cost of hauling it up to Rotorua and fixing it. I worked part time for Matamata Salvage Co and they agreed to give me a paint job and use of their workshop, Tony Baker took over the driving duties after me and was also very successful. His brother Ross also had a mark one Zephyr on the first night.
Photo below shows
Australian visitor Aub Swinton in his TQ at Rotorua. Aub died in November
2007. Photo supplied by Ivan Turnbull.