The origins of Motorcycle Speedway
By, Trevor Hedge
John S. Hoskins was the secretary of the Maitland Show Society. On his drives around the local area he had often noticed young blokes riding/sliding motorcycles in circles around local paddocks in the area.
Now John thought what a great spectacle this would make at the struggling Maitland Showgrounds (NSW) as part of the show. So he organised some of these riders to put on a bit of entertainment around the trotting track at the show. This is widely acknowledged as the birth of motorcycle speedway and happened for the first time on December 15, 1923. December 15. 1
Hoskins then took the idea to Newcastle, then Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
The first organised event in Perth was held on May 14th,1927. Harry ‘ Cannonball’ Baker won the ‘Silver Gauntlet’ on his 2¾ AJS. Lights were then installed at ‘Claremont Speedway’ and the 1st night event was held on September 10th, 1927. It drew a 15,000 strong crowd which founded a hugely popular new summertime attraction for the public of Perth who continued to support the sport and went on to make Claremont Speedway the longest running venue of its type in the world. I have some great childhood memories of night meetings at Claremont Speedway, I can smell and taste the methanol now…
The sport was growing with the news of the success and on April 10th, 1928 a ship called the ‘Oronsay’ set sail from Fremantle with 13 Australian riders and their machines to help introduce the exciting new sport to England. This of course proved popular in the U.K. and from there it grew across other oceans to mainland Europe and then the United States.
Australia continues to be at the forefront of motorcycle speedway.
Quite a visionary was Mr Hoskins…