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Bill Lawler's 25 Greatest Australian Midget Drivers

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Bill Lawler’s Magnificent 25 Australian Speedcar/midget Drivers Of All Time
Author : N A S R National Office

Bill Lawler, a Historian from Sydney and President of the Vintage Speedcar Association of NSW, has complied a list of drivers that he considers to be the top twenty-five Australian Midget/Speedcar competitors of all time. Spanning seventy years each driver has recorded memorable results and statistics that have elevated them into the list over so many other talented drivers. However, Lawler has arranged his list in alphabetical order and invites others to discuss and decide who is the number one driver of all time.

Lawler is one of thirty members on the Australian Speedway Hall of Fame, National Speedway Induction Committee recently formed by NASR. The committee will nominate and then vote for the top ten candidates in three classes: drivers, vehicles and events. The inaugural induction is scheduled to coincide with the National Safety Conference in June.

Bill Lawler’s Magnificent 25

This great Victorian driver has never won the Australian Championship, not for the want of trying. Second to Jim Holden in 1985, and again to Phil March in Adelaide in 1986, 3rd. in Rockhampton in 1989, and 4th. place in 1993 were the closest. He has won 11 club championships, 6 Victorian state titles, runner-up 6 times and 3rd on 3 occasions. Bishop has competed right around the country with many career wins including the Ray Revell Memorial at PCR, and the Victorian Grand Prix. Over 60 career A-mains have come his way in a long and illustrious career.

2 wins in Perth, 5 in Brisbane, 1 in Toowoomba, 8 at Windsor, 10 at the old Cumberland Oval, 4 south of Sydney at Mt. Kiera Speedway in Wollongong, 10 at Westmead and a further 16 at the famed Sydney Showground Speedway add up to a staggering 56 wins across the country. Among those wins is an Australian Championship at Cumberland Oval in 1955, the Australian ¼ mile championship in Brisbane in 1956, a two-time winner of the Australian Grand Prix at the Showground in 1958 and 1967, NSW champion in 1956, Queensland champion in 1957, winner of the ¼ mile World Derby in Brisbane in 1959, and was the holder of the 1 lap track record at the Sydney Showground for 5 years.

Well known in Sydney back in the 60’s as ‘Mr. Consistency’, Peter Cunneen has appeared in more feature races at the Sydney Showground than any other driver with a staggering 247 starts, with 18 wins, 23 seconds and 29 third placings. He is a two-time winner of the Queensland championship, and won the inaugural Craven Filter sponsored Australian Speedcar Championship where every driver had to compete in every capitol city to clinch victory. He competed on most tracks in Australia which included 3 A-mains in Perth. Winner of the 1958 NSW Championship, Peter has been victorious in over 30 career A-mains.

Adam Clarke is a great midget driver of the modern era, who has already notched up two Australian Speedcar Championships. So far he has 13 career wins to his credit at PCR, and another 12 at the old Newcastle Speedway, where, at its closure, he holds the 2, 6, 8, and 10 lap track records. He is a past winner of the AGP, (2001) and a three-time winner of the NSW Championship, 2000, 2001, and 2002. In the 1997/98 Parramatta season, he took out the NSW club championship.

Stuck in the far away confines of the Northern Territory with little racing opposition, Warrenne Ekins still managed to win 4 Australian Championships, Darwin in 1990, Perth in 1991, Victoria in 1993 and PCR in Sydney in 1994. He represented Australia in test matches in New Zealand and won the 50 lap classic at Western Springs. Feature race victories have come his way right around the country including the Laurie Matthews Memorial on the old Claremont Speedway.

One of the truly great midget drivers to come out of Western Australia, Johnny Fenton showed his true versatility by winning two Australian Titles, once on dirt at the old Rowley Park Speedway in 1974, and his second in 1976 on asphalt in Sydney’s Liverpool City Raceway. Leading up to those Australian Titles, he was runner-up in 1971, and ran 3rd. three times in 1972, 1973, and again in 1974. He holds a unique record by winning 10 career feature races in the one season in Perth! Fenton is a distinguished Western Australian Champion by winning the state title 7 times and being runner-up on 5 occasions. He has won a total of 59 career feature races on the old Claremont Speedway, more than any other driver.

Four times Michael Figliomeni has won the Australian Championship along with one 2nd. place and one 3RD., placing him statistically as the greatest midget driver in WA history. He achieved those 4 victories in 3 states, WA (1996,) Victoria (2002,) and twice in Queensland (1995 and 2002.) He too, has won his state title on seven occasions, 5 of them in a row. 32 career wins have come his way on his old Claremont home track, including a two-time winner of the Marlow’s Grand Prix.

In a very short period of time before he was tragically killed at Westmead Speedway in 1965, Jeffrey Edwin Freeman was fast becoming one of the countries greatest midget drivers. 34 career feature race wins came his way across the country including a victory in New Zealand at the Western Springs Speedway. He won an Australian Grand Prix in 1965, took out the 1964 ¼ mile Australian Championship in Brisbane, held the 6 lap track record at Windsor Speedway, and the 3, 25, and 30 lap records at the Sydney Showground. He has match race credits over Americans Bob Tattersall and Jimmy Davies, two of the toughest campaigners out of the United States. In a total of 107 career feature race starts at the Showground, Freeman has won 19, placed 2nd. 15 times, and 14 thirds. That’s podium time on 45% of his races. His soaring career was savagely cut short in a fatal midget accident on Mothers Day, 1965.

Just to win a single feature race on any major speedway track in Australia’s ‘Golden Era’ of midgets in the 60’s was considered an outstanding feat with the talent that was around back then. Bill Goode won a total of 56 at his home track, the Brisbane Exhibition Speedway! Completing a long and illustrious career, he retired from racing at the top by winning the 50 lap 1969 Australian Grand Prix, his last win on his beloved track, the Ekka. Other great victories included the Golden Fleece 100, the 50 lap World Derby, the ¼ mile Australian Championship, the 1966 Queensland Championship, the 1965 Australian Grand Prix, and twice the Kevin Jefferson Memorial. He won the 50 lap Craven Filter sponsored Grand Final at the Sydney Showground, and represented Australia in test match duties in New Zealand, finishing runner-up in Feature races on 4 occasions.

Undoubtedly, Steven Graham is the greatest midget driver of the modern era. He is also the holder of a unique record in Australian midget racing history. A record, I believe, may never be equaled or beaten. Its also a record that no other driver has achieved in any state or in any era. In one glorious season (1998/1999) Graham smashed no less than TEN 1 lap track records across the entire country! Parramatta (twice) Mt. Gambier, Gilgandra, Newcastle, Avalon, Claremont, Toowoomba, Archerfield, and Darwin. He won the Speedcar Super Series while competing Australia wide, won both the track championship and club championship, and to top off this incredible season, won the NSW Speedcar Championship and the Northern Territory Championship. He won the 1998 Australian Speedcar Grand Prix, and the 1995 Queensland Championship. He finished 2nd. in the West Australian Championship and 2nd in the 1997 World Derby. Graham finally won the elusive Australian Championship in 2005 on the high speed Kwinana Motorplex in Perth against the best in Australia New Zealand and the US. In one of his championship heats, he smashed the 10 lap record by over 11 seconds. He won the 2005 South Australian Speedcar Championship, and on the way, lopped 15 ½ seconds off his 10 lap heat race, and set a new time by winning the 30 lap final. He is a three-time Parramatta track champion, and on his home track at PCR, he is the current holder of the 3, 6, 8, 10, 20, 25, and 30 lap track records. He is the undisputed all-time feature race winner at Parramatta with 39 victories, more than double his nearest rival.

Three times Danny Davidson nearly had Australia #1 on the tail tank of his Cosworth when this talented Queenslander ran 4th. in 1976, 3rd. in 1978 and 1984. He is a 4-time winner of the Queensland Speedcar Championship, 1972, 1981, 1982, and 1991. He appeared 3 times at Parramatta City Raceway for 3 wins, including the NSW Championship, and the Jeff Freeman Memorial. He has 22 victories on the Brisbane Exhibition Speedway including the 30 lap Australian Grand Prix. All up, a total of over 40 career feature races around the country.

13 career feature races came Harvey’s way at the Sydney Showground before the talented and gifted driver left our sport for a road racing career. In his short time in midgets, he won three NSW Championships, 1959, 1960, and 1961. A nine car pile-up on pit corner may have quite easily robbed him of a 4th. He traveled to Brisbane and challenged the stars on their home track, coming away with their ¼ mile Australian Championship, the 50 lap World Derby, their Australian Speedcar Grand Prix, and the annual 100 lapper. He won a further 2 career A-mains on the old Tracey’s Speedway in Victoria, including their 50 lap AGP. He represented Australia in New Zealand and won a further feature race at Waiwakaiho Speedway. Six victories on the ½ mile Westmead Speedway put his winning tally over 30.

This great South Australian driver had two home tracks, the famous Rowley Park known as ‘The Brick Pit’, and Speedway City. 18 times he climbed the steps to receive his trophies at Rowley Park, and 41 times at Speedway City for a total of 59 victories. Wins include the 1975 Harry Neale Memorial, the 1976 Craven Filter State round, the 1976 South Australian Championship, the 1980 Craven Filter State round, the 1980 Rick Harvey Memorial, the 1982 Harry Neale Memorial, the 1987 South Australian title, and the prestigious 1992 Australian Speedcar Championship. An incredibly versatile midget driver, he took to the bitumen surface as good as the dirt arena’s, and on the ½ mile ashphalt track known as the Speedway Superbowl, he notched up a further 4 wins. He was one of the truly great drivers from South Australia.

Sydney’s Ronald Mackay is the wearer of two Australian Championship rings. He won them in 1971 and again in 1973, and in his illustrious career, has managed to account for over 80 career feature race wins. He has won the 1972 South Australian Championship, the 1975 Victorian Championship the 1972 and the 1975 NSW Championships, the 1971 Australian Speedcar Grand Prix, and the Victorian round of the Craven Filter championship. He represented Australia in test matches in New Zealand where he won a further two career feature races. Three more victories where added to his resume over in Perth on the Claremont Speedway. Ronal Mackay is equal leader with Barry Pinchbeck with a total of 41 wins on the old Liverpool City Raceway.

An Australian Championship at Speedway Park, South Australia, another at Avalon Speedway, Victoria in 1982, then a third title at Northline Speedway, Darwin in 1984, makes Keith Mann a very special West Australian driver. He is a three-time West Australian Champion, winning in 1979, 1981 and again in 1983, along with runner-up once and three times receiving the third placed trophy. He is the third highest all-time career feature race winner at the old Claremont Speedway with 40 victories.

Andy McGavin is second on the list of all-time feature race wins at the Sydney Showground with 40 victories. They include the 1954 and the 1955 Australian Championship, the 1956 NSW Title the 1959 AGP, the 1959 World 30 lap Derby, the 1961 AGP, and the 1962 NSW Title. He has one career victory in Perth, 1 in Western Springs Speedway in New Zealand, 1 at Rowley Park Speedway, 5 at Westmead Speedway, and two more up on the old Brisbane Exhibition Speedway where he won the innaugural 100 lapper in 1961, bringing his tally to 36 wins. He was one of the most polished performers in Sydney in the 50’s and 60’s.

What an incredible history this great South Australian has left us. With a staggering 52 career feature race wins on his home track at Rowley Park, more than any other driver. They included the 1951 and 1957 South Australian Championships, the 1952, 1955, 1956, and the 1959 Austrlian Speedcar Derbies, and the 1957 Rick Harvey Memorial. He won the 1957 Victorian Speedcar Championship, the Brisbane ¼ mile AGP and the 30 lap World Derby. Unfortunately, like Jeff Freeman, our sport was robbed of yet another great champion midget driver, fatally killed while competing on the Claremont circuit in Perth in 1959.

The man they affectionately call ‘Pinchy’ was an absolute legend during the era of the 70’s. He is the holder of six NSW Speedcar championship trophies, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981. In 1980, he won the Australian Grand Prix, and over two nights of racing on the Newcastle dirt and the Liverpool bitumen speedways, reined supreme in the Australian championship. He was victorious in the 1971, 1973 and 1975 World Derbies up in Brisbane and another three in Sydney, 1973, 1978 and 1979. He is a past winner of both the Ray Revell and Bob Tattersall memorials. All together, Barry Pinchbeck has accumulated over 60 career feature races including a further two in New Zealand where he also represented Australia in test match duties.

‘The Marathon Man’ is the only way you could describe Howard Revell. Four times he has been victorious in 100 lap midget races. 1 each on the Brisbane Exhibition Speedway and Liverpool City Raceway, and two on the Sydney Showground. Along with those wins, he has finished runner-up in two other 100 lap marathon races. He is a two-time Victorian Champion, 1974 and 1978, victory in the 1994 ACT Championship, and along the way in his illustrious career has broken no less than 12 track records. On pavement at Liverpool, Frazer Park Speedway in Canberra, a 10 lap record on the Sydney Showground, Rowley Park Speedway in South Australia, and at Parramatta City Raceway. He is a past winner of the Bob Tattersall, Jeff Freeman Memorials, and his fathers’ memorial, Ray Revell. Two more victories came Howard’s way when he ventured west to the ½ mile Claremont Speedway along with a seond in the West Australian Championship.

When fans of yesteryear talk about the ‘good old days’, the first sentence is usually, “I remember seeing Ray Revell and Andy McGavin and…… Yes, they always start with the great Ray Revell, and you can understand why when you read his outstanding resume of midget racing across the country. Ray survived those dirt arenas from 1936 right through to the early 60’s and in that time, he managed to win 116 career feature races, more than any other Australian driver. He won the 1946 and 1949 Queensland Championships, he is a five time Australian Champion (1946, 1950, 1951, 1953, and 1957. He is the undisputed winningest driver at both the Showground (54 wins) and the Sydney Sports Ground (28 wins). Revell also mastered the tight ¼ mile Brisbane Exhibition Speedway and is in 5th. place in all-time winners there with another 31 victories which included the 1957 Brisbane Cup and the 1952 and 1956 World Derbies. At the Sydney Showground, with his 54 victories, 24 seconds and 13 third places out of 157 feature race starts, those statistics equate to a staggering 58% he has appeared on the Sydney Showground victory dais!

Blair Shepherd is a two-time winner of the Queensland Championship, 1963 and again in 1964. With a marvelous record of 57 victories, he is the second highest winner on his home track, the Brisbane Exhibition. He took out the 1969 Australian Speedcar Championship, and has won the World Derby on two occasions. Twice he was selected in the Australian test team squad where he won a further 2 feature races on the Western Springs Speedway in New Zealand, and down south in Victoria, won two Craven Filter State rounds. In the 60’s driving the fabulous WRM Offenhauser, he was the holder of the 20, 25, 30 and 50 lap records on the ¼ mile Ekka.

This is the man they call ‘Super’ Stewart. He survived more horrific wrecks than any other. But on his night he was unbeatable. He is the third highest winner at the Showground with 25 wins. Three consecutive times he has been crowned our National Champion, 1966, 1967 and 1968. In the two victories in Brisbane, one was the 1965 Queensland Championship. In 1968, he won the Craven Filter state round of the Australian Championship. On the ½ mile Westmead winter season circuit, he was the absolute back mark champion and the all-time winningest driver with 18 victories, and at the end of the 1963 season, he held the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, and 12 lap track records in the mighty ‘Big Berco’ Repco Holden #2. Over 50 career feature races came his way in a very colourful career.

Well known in speedway circles as ‘Gorgeous George’, this man has had a magnificent career in midgets. He is a two time NSW Champion (1970 and 1972), winner of the 1973 Australian Speedcar Grand Prix, three times Australian Champion, 1973, 1974 and 1977, and runner up in 1976 and 1978. Two victories in Brisbane netted him the 1977 World Derby. He is a past holder of the 1 and 25 lap records at the Showground on dirt, and the 1 and 4 lap records at Liverpool on pavement. He is the best interstate performer at the old Rowley Park Speedway with 8 victories and is the 4th highest feature race winner at Liverpool with a further 20 wins, and among those wins was the Bob Tattersall Memorial. 2 more wins were recorded on the old Claremont Speedway in Perth, and was nominated to represent Australia in test match duties in New Zealand where 2 more A-mains were added to his career tally to over 50.

The most outstanding record on the Brisbane Exhibition track belongs to Ron Wanless. More than any other driver on his home track, he has an incredible total of 63 victories. He is also a 4 time Queensland Champion, winning in 1970, 1971, 1975 and 1977. Wanless cleaned up all and sundry on his home track in 1978 to win the Australian Speedcar Championship, then took the long haul across the continent to successfully defend his title on the half-mile Claremont Speedway in 1979. He was another top Australian driver called up for test match duties in New Zealand.

This unassuming Queensland midget driver has appeared in his state title races as far back as anyone can remember. He was crowned Queensland Midget Champion on no less than 5 occasions, with a further 5 seconds and 2 thirds. He is the 4th highest career feature race winner on the Brisbane Ekka with 38. He is a past winner of the 1967 Australian Grand Prix, and took out the 10 lap STP Little Indy marathon. One of the smoothest drivers to sit behind a midget steering wheel, he has accumulated over 50 career A-mains in an illustrious career spanning 50 years.

a top read. i have heard so much about so many of these guys!

Laura Poorter fan for life!!!



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What of Frank Brewer?

Aussie Watch 2

Aussie Watch 2

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Born in New Zealand....




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What about Arron Benny. Ron Camron was fun to watch. Adam Clarke is the BEST Driver to come over hear and compete. He of all these fine drivers could sit in anything and win. It's so said that I'am the only so called yank that can see that.

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