Love the caricature Pedro (Peter Pascoe) did of me for the Claremont Speedway program

WELCOME to the SPEEDWAY GAZETTE web site. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here. It will be a work in progress so please come back again later.

SPEEDWAY - Oval track racing for cars and/or bikes on a dirt/clay surface.

GAZETTE - A newspaper or journal, usually containing lists of things.

My name is Ken Brown and back in February 1966 I started reporting on Speedway racing here in Western Australia.

When I was the editor of the Claremont Speedway program in the mid 1970s I began compiling Speedway statistics - lists of feature race winners plus championships and annual events.

I have been doing this ever since then.

This site gives me the opportunity to share some of this data with you.

In October 2001 I started writing a Speedway column in the Wednesday Motoring liftout in The West Australian newspaper.

in February 2016 when the annual World Series Sprintcars drivers were racing at the Perth Motorplex, their chief announcer Benny Bishop presented me with a plaque for my 50 years of involvement with Speedway racing.

Over the past couple of years I have edited a series of publications on the early history of the Claremont Speedway. Today you can go to the Australian Library site (Trove) and find copies of all of the different Australian newspapers. I have copied the race reports word for word in these books. 

Details of how to purchase a copy of these publications on the early days of Claremont Speedway (seven in all) can be found on the SPEEDWAY BOOKS page.

It has been quite a ride - I consider myself to be a Speedway fan who has been lucky enough to be involved in this wonderful sport for half a century.

Sincere thanks to a great mate of mine - Peter "Pedro" Pascoe - for his assistance in setting up the SPEEDWAY GAZETTE site - I could not have done it without him.

I also have a Facebook page entitled "Speedway Gazette" -  https://www.facebook.com/Speedwaygazette/?fref=ts

Thank you,

Ken Brown

 

Wade Aunger is a guy that has really made his mark on the Australian Speedway landscape - and a mate that I really respect. The following tribute he wrote back in 2005 is one I will always remember.

 

BROWNIE  -  Friday April 1, 2005. Wade Aunger   

Unbelievably, it was 20 years ago.

My mate from Adelaide Jason had the decidedly ludicrous idea that I (an entrepreneurial 15 year old who was driving him crazy with letters from Perth that doubled as Claremont Speedway race reports of some form) should consider the idea of sending in articles to a Speedway magazine rather than send them to him – as much as he (told me) enjoyed receiving them.

I thought he was nuts.

“Who wants race reports from a 15 year old kid?” I asked of him, though deep inside I had already begun to ponder the possibilities.

“I dunno, but somebody’s got to be interested,” he said, “I reckon they’re good enough to be printed.”

God love him, Jason’s always been one of my biggest supporters, and his wild idea of me launching a career in Speedway journalism in the middle of Year 10 at High School had strangely enough convinced me to give it a go.

There was one small problem though.

Who to write for?

There were several magazines around at the time – Speedway Racing News, National Speedway Illustrated, Oval Track, I’d give them all a crack and at least ask the question.

No go.

Some bloody guy named Ken Brown had the market pretty well sewn up.

I should have known really, I’d been reading his articles for years myself.

When Dad shipped us all to first Malaysia and then South Australia (and away from my beloved Claremont because of his career as a RAAF Policeman) my Nanna would often send me Speedway mags to keep me up to date, and almost every time the by-line was Ken Brown’s.

He was my umbilical cord to Speedway WA, my lifeline.

But seemingly in a matter of hours he’d gone from my hero to my nemesis.

“Who doesn’t he bloody write for?” I wondered.

Amazingly, perhaps because of my persistence or my offer to ‘work for free’ Bill Meyer from Speedway Star Magazine in Sydney gave me a start – I was off, a 15 year old Wilbur Smith of the wild west.

Of course, “Brownie” wrote for them too, but that only made me more determined.

I peppered Speedway Star with all manner of articles and race reports spurned by a fierce desire to make a real go of this.

From Speedway Star I got an introduction to Brad Thompson (Program Editor) and Con Migro at Claremont Speedway and almost in the blink of an eye I was writing the Speedcar and also Super Sedan articles weekly in the Claremont program.

I’d often pass Ken Brown in the pits, and he’d give me a friendly nod or wave.

I was churning out the material OK, but I couldn’t match Brownie’s turn of phrase – and how could I have? The guy was a veteran of Speedway journalism even then and a bloody school teacher!

I would often marvel at the way he could conjure up imagery.

“Nash scorched around the Claremont ribbon of light” he once wrote.

Ribbon of light? How cool was that?

It was an entirely magical way of saying what I would term ‘the track.’

Fast forward a year or two and I’m now the Editor of the Claremont Speedway program (a bigger job than you’d realize, that program was more a magazine than a program and always has been) and had now progressed to the holy grail – the Claremont PA Box.

I’d done my ‘apprenticeship’ at Ellenbrook Speedway during the winter and I’m an enthusiastic, ready to take on the world 17 year old sitting next to one of the greats of WA commentary – “Chuck Redmond”.

It’s a Winfield Sprintcar Series round, and about my third night behind the mike when I made a mistake I remember to this day.

Now before I go on you need to understand Con Migro’s passion and pride in Claremont Speedway.

In Con’s mind, there wasn’t a ripple or an indentation on the Claremont racing surface ever, and I mean EVER. He had a wonderful way of referring to the track in his commentary by focusing on the positives when he’d yell excitedly over the mike “the track is coming in beautifully!” as a field of Speedcars screamed out of the corner early in the night.

Con had a way of making everything sound like it was working just as it should, night in night out.

When he was cranking up a big race call, you’d get goose bumps.

So here I was, attempting to emulate all this many years later when Jack Hewitt gets an almighty push coming out of Fowlhouse corner in an early heat on a heavy track and nearly drifts out to smack the wall in the #21 Osborne Transmissions machine.

“Hewitt is obviously having a bit of trouble with the slick and greasy track,” I ventured over the PA.

Con was on the infield, and to this day I don’t know how he heard me over a heat race full of Sprintcars, but he did.

The phone next to me rang in the PA box, with a very unhappy man at the other end.

Chuck Redmond took over the commentary as PA boss Trevor Laurence handed me the phone and said “It’s Con.”

The look on my face as I held the phone just off my ear for what seemed an hour must have said it all as Con explained in no uncertain terms the way we announcers refer to the track.

I can look back on it and laugh now, and even understand the logic behind what he said, but at the time I’m pretty sure the colour drained right out of my face and on to the PA box floor as I gently put the receiver back on the cradle.

As I did that, the sliding glass window that separated the PA box from the Press box slid back and Ken Brown’s sympathetic face peered through.

I don’t remember what he said in so many words, but I know that he cared enough to put me a little more at ease, and from that moment onwards Brownie’s always kept an eye out for me whenever it was required.

I in return, have always been grateful for it.

Later in the season Ken would start one of his articles with the words “Claremont Speedway announcer Wade Aunger kept referring to Graham Jones as “Awesome” in the 25 lap feature race and when I got home I delved into my trusty dictionary to ponder his description. Turns out it was a fair call….”

I was chuffed.

There was the guy I had admired for so long and read with interest quoting me!

When I left Claremont to pursue an interest in the USA and then Sydney Ken remained as a person who remained interested in what I was up to.

Ironically, I went back to reading his articles about WA Speedway from abroad as I had over a decade before.

These days Ken is still as involved as ever in the industry.

He provides a vital full page report each week in The West Australian Newspaper for Speedway and writes on all manner of divisions for all manner of publications.

Ken’s been one of the sport’s greatest unsung heroes for certain.

20 years ago when this then teenager would interview a feature winner Ken Brown would be right behind me to get the interview for his story.

Just over a month ago and 20 years on when I went to shake the hand of new Australian Speedcar Champion Steven Graham as he climbed from his car at Kwinana after 40 grueling laps I turned to face the man standing patiently next to me.

A broad smile beamed out from within the beard and a warm handshake ensued.

You guessed it, it was Ken Brown, still doing that awesome job.

The service this man has provided to Speedway in WA can never be underestimated.

Take a bow Brownie, man you’ve earned it…

 

 

Benny Bishop (left) presented me with a plaque for my 50 years of reporting on Speedway in February 2016. Also pictured is Perth Motorplex Speedway Manager Gavin Migro.