Visit to Lake Perkolilli Centenary
Written by Mark Read - Rosco and I were invited to mark the Centenary of motor racing in Australia. This was being held on a claypan called Lake Perkolilli, which is the oldest original motor racing track in Australia and one of the oldest in the world.
We were going to see a bunch of motor racing enthusiasts from around Australia drag their vintage racing cars out on this dusty bush track 30km from Kalgoorlie in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia over 4 days (16th - 19th October 2014).
Nothing newer than 1940 was eligible to compete and these fantastic cars were covered in red dust and mud as they recreated the races held between 1914 and 1939.
Rosco and I set off on Friday the 17th and drove 650km from north of Perth to Kalgoorlie and arrived around 4:30pm. We checked into the hotel and then went off to visit the Kalgoorlie Super Pit gold mine, one of the largest open pits in the world, but were looking forward to the racing the following day.
We could see minute trucks in the distance moving the ore, the only thing was these minute trucks are able to carry 250 tons of ore and have no drivers, all computer controlled and work around the clock, awesome!
We headed into town for a beer, and I was amazed by the amount of people who recognised Rosco and stopped him for a chat, but it soon became clear why he was held in such high regard and it was not just because he was the Australian land speed record holder.
Rosco had 30 years earlier been ingrained in Kalgoorlie folk law, having been asked to appear in a film shoot by a French director and driven a jet dragster up one of the main streets in Kalgoorlie, with the police watching on, clocking him at over 450km/h going past the pub! It is still spoken about today and over the next day I got the full story, so I promise I will write about it very soon. It would never happen today and it is a real one-off event.
Many cars and motorcyles of the period attended
Back to the main event. The weather was turning and although a little wet on Friday evening, Rosco and I were hopeful some racing would be taking place on the Saturday. Practice on Thursday and Friday had been good, with a lot of period cars and bikes giving it full throttle.
click on images to enlarge
Unfortunately the weather got worse overnight with heavy rain and hail that turned the mud Lake into a proper lake, however early Saturday morning we ventured down to the lake but could not very close, due to the conditions. One of the big 4 x 4's was going in and had room for Rosco, so he went down to have a look. Many cars had to be pulled out of the mud.
Phone calls were made and the local trotting track had a vintage car meet and it was agreed that the cars could go there and be displayed, possibly being run around that track, if the weather held out. Rosco and I ventured there and meet up with several drivers and cars.
We had to head back early on Sunday as Rosco had another engagement on Monday, and it was shame that we did not get to see any racing, but it was great to see these fantastic pre-war cars and motorcycles and meet the people who owned them.
The 650km drive back was quite treacherous as the weather was really bad, and the rain did not let up. Unfortunately a mother and 3 children were killed on that stretch of road, when their car hit a bus head on and our thoughts go out to their friends and family.
To read more about the history of Lake Perkolilli and the event, click here.
Thanks also to John Hughes for their support with this trip.