Want to be a part of Mac Park History?
We are selling square-metres of Pavers for $65 to all members and friends of Mac Park. For this you get an engraved paver within your square-metre, a very low cost method of leaving your mark at Mac Park forever!
Go to our “Downloads” page for a Paver Order Form.
The Mount Gambier Motorcycle Club Inc. has many claims to uniqueness. It is one of the oldest motorcycling clubs in the country with a rich history dating back to at least 1913. It is the only motorcycle club in Australia, and one of very few in the world, to own it’s own road racing circuit.
Mount Gambier Motorcycling History:
Mount Gambier has had a love affair with motorcycles since the early 1900s. Motorcycle racing in Mount Gambier actually precedes racing on the famous Isle of Man where the first race on the original St John’s course was held in June 1904. However, on New Years day in January 1904 there was a motorcycle race meeting held at Frew Park in Mount Gambier that according to the Border Watch newspaper, attracted over 4,000 spectators.. So Mount Gambier motorcycle enthusiasts pipped the legendary IOM TT by 6 months. When registration and licensing was introduced in 1906, there were 9 listings for the town. Interest continued to grow in this form of transport and the competitive nature of the residents came to the fore. One of the challenges they often indulged in was the ride to the Centenary Tower. The first recorded successful climb was in 1911 although several attempts had been made earlier.
In 1913 when the formation of the Mount Gambier Motor Cycle Club occurred (November 4th 1913) there were approximately 120 motorcycles registered in Mount Gambier.
On November 26th 1913 the first Club run was held. The Club disbanded on the 10th Nov 1914 when they joined with the motorists, but the motorcycling spirit lived on and in 1928 the Mount Gambier Motor Cycle Club was reformed. In 1931 a Speedway was created at the Recreation Reserve and several meetings were held on an 18 foot wide banked track before nearby residents complained about the noise and meetings stopped. Other activities included racing on a track at Yahl and Sports Days.
The Great Depression curtailed activities to a large extent and not much activity was recorded in this period and the MGMCC faded away. In the local newspaper, the Border Watch of Saturday July 18th 1936, the proposed formation of a Motor Cycle Club was once again heralded.
“A meeting of motor cyclists will be held at Bullock’s Cycle Emporium on Monday night (July 20th, 1936)when the proposed formation of a Sporting and Social Club will be discussed”. From this meeting the Mount Gambier Motor Cycle and Light Car Club was formed.
Although there does not appear to have been much reporting of the activities quite a bit of informal action reputedly took place, but in 1939 the Second World War came and activities were curtailed once again. Following the cessation of hostilities and the return of the servicemen, throttle hands again twitched, although the availability of bikes was a problem and the Mount Gambier Motor Cycle and Light Car Club was re-activated in January 1947. The Club President was Mr Kingsley Osborne, the Captain Mr Ron Hellyer and the Club colours Maroon and Gold. A meeting place was always a problem and Members met at various venues such as the old Pipe Band rooms, a Cellar at Fox Bros shop (members urged to bring their own electric radiators), a Cordial Factory and under the Grand Stand at Vansittart Park.
Post War Competitive Activities:
Saturday 31st May 1947 saw the opening meeting of the Buck’s Hill Scramble Track and it was this venue that helped the enhance the Club’s reputation and over several years, meetings including the 1948 South Australian Championship, were at this popular track. Several light car Specials were built and raced at this venue to add to the interest. Around this period speed trials (including on a salt lake flat at Beachport), road trials, Observed Trials and Hill Climbs were also part of the Club’s activities.
In August 30th 1951 a busy 3 month’s programme of events were scheduled and included a Tower Hill (Vic) Scramble, an Observed Trial, Woodside Road Races, Speed Trials, Ballarat Airstrip, Bucks Hill Scramble, a Dance and a Christmas Social.
While all these activities were going on Members harboured a dream of a Road Race Track of their own and began holding events to raise money towards this end. In December 1958 the first Motor Cycle Racing under lights took place on a track at the Mount Gambier Showground and gate takings were earmarked for the Road Race Circuit.
In late 1951 club member Frank McNamara offered to sell his old limestone quarry block to the club and Laurie Fox roughed out a circuit based on the scratcher’s favorite, Cadwell Park in England. The circuit was thereafter referred to as MacNamara Park or Mac Park. Work began on forming up the track using an ex WWII tank and countless volunteer hours and raffles later the first road race was held on 21 April 1962.
In 1972 on it’s tenth anniversary the track was extended to 1.2 miles with a quarter mile straight and the start/finish was originally located here. In 1976 the circuit was again extended to 2.4 kilometers and the first major national road race was held at Mac Park with the running of the memorable 1976 Australian Grand Prix when multiple Australian Senior Champion Bill Horsman managed to snap his brand new 500 Suzuki racer in half on the first lap after it seized.
In 2006 the Start moved over to the current location.Throughout its long history the Mount Gambier MCC has benefited from a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer membership with constant improvements including the most recent expenditure of over $1.6 million to bring the track up to international racing standards and the granting of an unqualified track permit from Motorcycling Australia.
Mac Park is not only a favorite among motorcycle racers for its layout and facilities but also for it’s beauty and the special atmosphere created in the campground after the day’s racing is done. It is that rare thing in this day and age, a genuine family oriented clubman race track and for this it truly deserves to be held in high regard.
Want more information on the history of not only Mac Park, but motorcycling in the south east? Check out Colin Thompsons excellent ‘Potholes and Paddocks to the Park’ volumes 1 and 2, available by visiting his website here.