A Short History of Stratford Speedway, Taranaki, New Zealand.

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Main highway just North of Stratford township in Taranaki. (Currently still active)

     The Stratford track started with a few young men approaching the A & P Association to race Stock Cars. After a few meetings between both parties it was agreed they could form a track inside the show ring oval. A committee was formed and Max Hopkins became their first President.  With many hours of construction a track 35 feet wide on the straights and 40 feet wide on the corners was formed.    
      The next big item was the fence. Three foot wide holes were drilled every eighteen feet and filled with concrete allowing a small hole in the center for a railway iron as a post to which three one inch wire ropes would be attached.
     The first meeting was held in February 1965. The club had 19 cars registered that year.  In 1966 the club had up to 6 roll cars that filled the gap between races. These proved to be very popular for about three years.  In 1968 the club introduced saloon cars, the first year these were called production cars. There were six registered the first year; J.Muter, Ash King, Wayne Whitehead, Barry Rickard, W. Taylor and Brian Wilson.
     The club in 1969 made a major change by putting a three foot wooden fence around the outside of the track and taking eighteen inches of spoil out of the oval, placing that behind the fence, compacting it as hard as possible and allowing an embankment to be built at the south end of the grandstand. This gave a good view to all the racing.
     Racing with stock and saloon cars for the next five years, the wall became very expensive and rot set in, so it had to go. In went a shining new concrete wall three feet high, poured in one continuous pour.  Over the first ten years, the pit gates appeared in three different places. On the north-east corner, on the north-west corner and finally on the south-east corner; the latter being the old Rodeo shutes with the wall slightly offset to protect the gateway.
     In 1974 the Club took its best step yet and installed lights. Yes! Night racing had come to Stratford and the club has never looked back. Also 1974 saw the introduction of  T.Q's to the programme. At this time the club was racing stock cars, saloons, T.Q's and solo bikes. In 1981/82 the bikes dwindled and were replaced with the modified sportsman class.


Taranaki Stock Car Club booklet The above is an excerpt from "A Short History of the Taranaki Stock Car Club" written by Mr Ernie Burrows for the Clubs first 20 year booklet.

This 116 page booklet makes excellent reading and covers each season highlights with plenty of photos. Some of the names featured include: Gary Scott, Albert Gordge, Laurie Booker, Alan Jago, Blondie Chamberlain, Merv Julian, Cess Budd, Hec Stockman, Reg Dixon and of course the Stratford Scrappers Stock car Team.

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In 1999/2000 the club became the first NZ track to install electronic lap scoring and later that season won the prestigious 'Speedway of the Year' title. The track plays host to around 15 nights of racing each season, beginning in October with the practices and finishing in March or April. Highlights of the season usually include the Fireworks night in early November, the Boxing Day Demolition Derby, and national  Championship meetings if alocated to the club.