Sydney Society of Model Engineers
Tether Car Racing in New South Wales
The first record of a tether car racing on a circular track in Australia,
was that of Bob Cooper in 1942, at the Sydney Society of Model Engineers
Ashfield site. The SSME is the oldest, continuously operating model
engineering society in the world, beginning its operations in1906. Anecdotal
evidence suggests that, prior to 1942, tether cars were run at Padstow Boys'
High School by Harry Ferguson.
The Warilla track was built in the back yard of the home of Eric Parmenter,
and was often referred to as the "goat track". Cars reached speeds of 132
mph on the 52 foot track, eight laps of which equalled a quarter mile. This
track operated from 1958 to 1965.
Over 40 years ago, the Port Macquarie club
built a 52 foot diameter track in a vacant field just beyond the city limits
of Hibbard. The first race was held in 1957 and over 25 entrants competed on
the day. This club operated until 1962, with foundation members including
Ron Stewart, Bill Thompson and Mark Hardes.
Manly Wharf pier was the site for Harold king's portable 25 foot track.
Harold operated this track as an amusement attraction from 1944 until 1948,
using cars imported from the USA. Harold joined the SSME after leaming that
a larger track existed, and then donated his portable track to the Society
for displays. Harold spent the latter years of his life promoting the hobby,
and assisting many of our current members with their first experiences of racing.
Cabarita, on the banks of the Parramatta River, was the site of the largest
track built inAustralia. This 72 foot diameter track was built in 1951 by a breakaway
group from the SSME. This track was only used for practice and never hosted
a race event, and it fell into disuse after 1955 with racers returning tothe SSME.
The Cowra track was built in the same period as the Ashfield track. This
club was founded by ex-servicemen in 1944. The first race was held in 1945
with 18 members attending. Annual race days were held until 1952 when the track closed.
The Sydney Society of Model Engineers opened their Ashfield grounds in 1935,
with the first tether car races being run on the unfilled boat pond. The
boat pond was of channel type construction and the cars ran on the shoulder.
Finally, permissi~n was obtained for a ground level track to be built at
Ashfield and the. first race was held in May 1945. From then until 1971 the
track was used every weekend.
The first 70 foot track was built at Luddenham in 1971 and was replaced in
1996 with a world standard track where eight laps equals 500 metres.
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