AGP HISTORY COMES TO LISMORE FOR THE 2018-19 GOLDEN JUBILEE SEASON
BY DENNIS NEWLYN
ONE of the oldest Midget/Speedcar events in the world – the Australian Speedcar Grand Prix – comes to Castrol Edge Lismore Speedway as part of the 2018-19 Golden Jubilee season celebrations.
To secure the hosting rights for the 68th running of the AGP is a coup for Lismore promoter David Lander. The event has never been held at Castrol Edge Lismore Speedway and the timing to bring the “great race” to Lismore in the Golden Anniversary of continuous oval track racing at the venue could not have been more appropriate.
Saturday, March 23, 2019, is set down for the AGP which is expected to attract not only some of the biggest names in Australasian Speedcar racing, but also some top Americans in keeping with the fine tradition of the event in which US stars have figured prominently in the results since the first running in 1938.
Whoever wins the AGP will take a very special place in Australian motor sport history.
“Speedcars have a great heritage and history in Australia,” Lander said.
“When it comes to the Mighty Midgets, tradition is everything and you could not get anything more traditional for the Speedcar division than the AGP. Every driver wants to win the Australian Speedcar Grand Prix and fittingly the AGP has provided some of the greatest ever Speedcar races witnessed in this country.
“I hope we put on a race that is right up there with some of the best in AGP history. Whoever takes the chequered flag will be a very proud winner. This is the race that means so much to win because the winner will join so many great Australian and American Speedcar drivers who have their name engraved on the famous trophy.”
The AGP shares the spotlight with America’s world famous “Nite Before the 500” in Indianapolis, California’s traditional Turkey Night Grand Prix and the Victorian Speedcar Championship as one of the four oldest events in world Speedcar history.
Some of the biggest names in American auto racing have won the Australian Speedcar Grand Prix. Legendary four time Indianapolis 500 winner AJ Foyt raced to victory twice – at Sydney’s former Liverpool City Raceway in 1975 and ’76 – while 20-time American Sprintcar Champion Steve Kinser drove to a sensational win also at Liverpool in 1986.
The winner of the very first AGP in 1938 was New South Welshman Les Dillon.
For so many years this race was conducted at the iconic Sydney Showground at Moore Park in front of massive crowds. Twenty-eight of the first 29 AGPs were held at the Sydney Royale after the inaugural running at the adjacent Sydney Sports Ground.
Australian Speedcar racing legends the late Ray Revell, Andy McGavin, Len Brock, Johnny Stewart and Jeff Freeman are winners, while of the modern era, Mark Brown and Troy Jenkins have been dominant victors. Freeman won arguably the best-ever AGP when he took the 1965 title away from American legend the late, great Bob Tattersall with a sensational outside, winning pass in the last few laps at the Sydney Showground.
Ten times Australian Sprintcar Champion and Australian Speedway Hall of Famer Garry Rush won on the pavement at Liverpool in 1977, but his win in 1996 at the Sydney Showground was one of the greatest moments in the history of the event.
It was the last time the Australian Speedcar Grand Prix was ever held at the Sydney Showground before its permanent closure to make way for Fox Studios. Australian speedway icon the late George Tatnell also lifted the GP trophy, while triple Australian Sprintcar titleholder Max Dumesny won at the Sydney Showground in 1992.
Englishman Bill Reynolds was the 1956 winner, while other Americans who have stamped their authority on the race in addition to the incredible Tattersall, who won at the Sydney Showground four times during the ‘sixties, are Cal Niday, Frank Brewer, Jimmy Davies, Dave Strickland, Ron Tripp, Johnny Pearson and Lealand McSpadden.
Tattersall, from Streator, Illinois, is regarded by many as the biggest name winner of the AGP because of his dominance throughout the ‘sixties.