Curious Tales – Sydney Sports Ground
When Curio were researching the history of the Sydney Football Stadium, we came across some fascinating stories about the former uses of the site, including its use as the Sydney Sports Ground No. 1 Speedway.
With the first motorcycle race taking place at the arena in 1907, dirt track racing was formerly introduced to the SSG in the late 1930s when a quarter-mile dirt track was built. The Sydney Sports Ground Speedway was a dirt track racing venue located where the Sydney Football Stadium carpark now sits. The events at the stadium were promoted by the Empire Speedway Pty Ltd, with the speedway officially opened on 30th October 1937.
Racing for Solo and Sidecar motorcycles and Speedcars continued to the mid-1950s. The Sydney Sports Ground was world famous as the venue for Australian Championships for all speedway divisions and motorcycle test matches between Australia and England.
The stadium had two main grandstands and was surrounded by a grass covered hill, giving it a capacity of more than 35,000. It was demolished along with the smaller sports ground in 1986 to allow the building of the SFS, which opened in 1988.
In an era when death was an accepted risk of the sport, 12 competitors lost their lives while racing at the Sydney Sports Ground. In the most tragic accident, close friends off the track, 29 year old Norm Clay and 32 year old Ray Duggan both died after crashing together in a Solo race there on 20 January 1950.
1946 Lionel Van Pragg Australia’s first world champion at the Sydney Sportsground. Photo: Dean Donovan. (Source: https://bit.ly/2ASeeij)