27 January, 2024

Speedway returns to the track

Gilgandra Speedway will host Australia Day 2024 meeting tonight

By Andrew Tarry

Gilgandra Speedway 2024
Fortune and hard work has rescued the Gilgandra Speedway which will be able to hold its scheduled race meetings after repairs were undertaken including fixing the track wall. Pictured is speedway committee members Zoe Howard and Louise Harland. Photo by The Gilgandra Weekly: Andrew Tarry.

Speedway, the Gilgandra community and region, Speedway Australia has reinstated a three-star rating for the Gilgandra Speedway facility with the change in fortunes bringing on a potential new era for the track, the club, and its volunteers.

In October 2023, Gilgandra Speedway was given devastating news after Speedway Australia’s NSW sport development and safety officer Michael Braggs informed the club that the desperate need for upgrades to the facilities had resulted in a safety rating downgrade.

“No one likes making those calls, because these guys are all volunteers and are as passionate about the sport as anyone, but we all know safety comes first and the risk of racing was just far too high if there weren’t some major changes put in place,” Mr Braggs said. Providing the news was one of the hardest things he had to do in his role said Mr Braggs.

The downgrade to the safety rating immediately put the future of the club in doubt as the committee, all volunteers from the Gilgandra community, scrambled to recover and ensure the future of the speedway.

Thrust into action, the committee led by secretary Louise Harland, contacted the Gilgandra Shire Council seeking support and assistance to repair the track and other facilities and keep the club alive. The phone call, according to Mr Braggs, initiated a study by the council that revealed some amazing insights.

The Gilgandra council contacted Speedway Australia to see what they could do to help. The council also undertook a study to get a picture of the importance the speedway has for the region and the local economy. The study found that the events held throughout the year at the speedway provided valuable economic and social benefits to tourism, through hotel bookings and town revenue, while regularly attracting hundreds of people to the area.

A list of critical issues was given to the club, with the pit gate and concrete wall panels deemed hazardous. The catch fence was also in need of repair with the culmination of the list arguing the need for major works to take place to return the track to racing standard.

“It was a shock at first and a pretty daunting list,” Mrs Harland said. “We understood that it needed to happen, and we needed to save the track, so we just got stuck into it, called a meeting, and together decided on a plan.

“We went to council, and they were amazing. Community support was as well; it was awesome to see who came out of the woodwork to help us.”

The committee and the driver behind the astonishing turn around, Ms Harland, said that she is proud of the small team that carried out the majority of the work, enduring the emotional rollercoaster which took the small team of dedicated people from devastation to elation within a few short months.

From October to a few days before Christmas, 95 per cent of the work had been completed which Speedway Australia’s NSW sport development and safety officer Michael Braggs found to be an incredible display of effort upon his return.

The remaining work was then carried out in the first week of 2024. The repairs and renovations to the facility has also come with an additional bonus. Not only is the track operational again, but for the first time in nine years Sprintcars will return in February.

Such has been the success of the work that the club has realised that with a bit of ambition, hard work and commitment, the club can achieve great things.

Gilgandra Speedway secretary Louise Harland said the club is now looking to the next project to continue to develop the facility and its appeal to racing enthusiasts.

“Our goal is to replace the concrete wall through grant funding as soon as possible, and we’re keen to resurface the track in the off season as well. We’ve got a taste for how rewarding and inspiring improvements can be for the club and community, and we want to keep going now. The council has been amazing and is on board to help us as well.”


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