Red Dust Racers by Graeme Cocks

Experience the story of “The Brooklands of the west”- a remarkable tale of ingenuity and resourcefulness, in the harsh Australian sun.

£120.00 (Approx. $156.26 / €144.80)

Description

“The Brooklands of the west”

The Aussies are an inventive bunch. What do you do when you are tens of thousands of miles from the great race tracks of Europe and America, roads are terrible and you want to race car against car and motorcycle against motorcycle?

To the motor racers of the Goldfields of Western Australia the answer was simple: find a claypan, set up a two mile circle and go racing. And they did it from 1914 to 1939, creating what was certainly the world’s most unlikely race track.

A new book by Perth author Graeme Cocks tells the story of a forgotten motor racing track near an abandoned ghost town and the edge of the Great Victoria Desert, where Australian speed records were broken again and again, and Australasian motor car and motorcycle championships were run. It is called Lake Perkolilli, which was the Holy Grail for thousands of Western Australian motor racing fans.


    • Red Dust Racers tracks the rise and fall of Lake Perkolilli to when it was consigned to oblivion, the grandstand removed and the bush free to grow back over the track, and then its re-discovery.
    • In the annals of world motor racing there has only ever been one Lake Perkolilli. It was a phenomenon unique to the goldfields of the Australian outback where people made the best from what little they had. LakePerkolilli is near the location of Kanowna where even the ghost town is gone, and 23km from Kalgoorlie. It has survived the gold mining booms and busts and it is probably the only race track in the world which is basically the same as when it was first raced on in 1914.
    • Western Australia’s isolation from the eastern states on the other side of the Nullarbor encouraged an independent attitude and a form of motor racing with big displacement cars and motorcycles which raced flat out on the claypan. In the late 1920s, straight eight Auburns battled big Chrysler specials at speeds exceeding 90mph in blinding dust. There were exotic European cars, too. Names such as Bugatti and Lagonda were also tried out on the rock hard claypan.
    • For a quarter century, motorcar and motorcycle racers would tackle the horrendous track from the coast, 640 km from Perth to the isolated clay pan to spend a week camping in the bush, tuning their mounts and then racing in an annual carnival which attracted up to 10,000 visitors. It was called the “Brooklands of the West”, Australia’s equivalent of the world’s first motor racing circuit near London in the United Kingdom. Bicycles also were raced on the claypan and an air race was even conducted from Perth to Perko.
    • Red Dust Racers traces the arrival of the motor car in Western Australia in 1898, then the rise of motor sporting events, including the first motor race between motor tricycles in Perth. The first motor car race was held in the Goldfields in 1909 at the Boulder racecourse – a horse track. In the USA, the first race was conducted at the Indianapolis track in the USA, and less than five years later, Western Australia had its own motor racing track at Perkolilli. The difference was: nothing had to be done – nature had made it perfect for racing!
    • The track was a natural wonder: smooth and flat with an incredibly hard surface where seemingly unlimited speeds could be achieved. It even attracted the greatest Australian speed record breaker of the age, Norman “Wizard” Smith, who came from Sydney to break the Australasian 24-Hour speed record in 1928 driving a Studebaker.
    • With the inventiveness of Australian bush mechanics, many of the cars which raced at Lake Perkolilli were modified from stock models, hotted-up, bodies removed and stripped for racing. These Aussie “Specials” were often incredibly fast. A Ford V8 which raced at Perkolilli was modified by Perth Ford dealer Ossie Cranston in the 1930s and later achieved fastest time at an Australian Grand Prix.
    • For Red Dust Racers author Graeme Cocks, the book represents a search over two decades to unlock the mysteries of the claypan. He scoured archives and interviewed countless people to find out more about the people and the cars and motorcycles that raced at Lake Perkolilli.
    • What emerged was a wonderful story of pioneering motor racers, goldfields entrepreneurs, rogues, ratbags and true champions, and of how war thinned the ranks of a generation of motor racers.
    • Red Dust Racers is 488 pages in coffee-table format with 1,200 images (most never before published), and the results of every event held on the clay pan. The index is 18 pages long to enable families to track down the exploits of their ancestors who raced. Only 1000 books have been printed, every one numbered.

Experience the remarkable story of true Aussie grit- at 90 miles per hour!

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