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Motor Sport

The first four-wheeled motor race in Australia was held on 12 March 1904 on a gravel track near the present site of Sandown. At the Maribyrnong Gymkhana a year earlier, time trials were held over a set distance, also a first of their kind. The popularity of motor racing was established when Harry James helped form the first automobile club of Victoria in 1903, and was cemented in 1906 when the first commercial track in Australia, constructed by J.R. Crooke, opened at the Aspendale racecourse.

In 1912 W.E. Pervill broke the 24-hour motorcycling record by covering 522 miles (840 km) from Keilor to Gisborne, while in 1913 the Sydney to Melbourne journey was for the first time completed in a car in less than a day by James Bolger. By the late 1920s speed bowl racing (motorcycles) was a popular spectator sport at venues such as the Melbourne Motordome, and in 1928 Grand Prix racing came to Australia at Phillip Island.

Motor racing in Melbourne has been popular at venues such as Sandown and Calder Park, two permanent racing venues that were constructed and opened in the early 1960s. Calder Park was purchased by Bob Jane in 1974 and he brought Formula one racing to the circuit in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Sandown circuit hosted the Tasman Cup for Formula one cars in the 1960s and 1970s, the Castrol 500 in the 1970s and the world sportscar series in the 1980s. The Albert Park circuit hosted Grand Prix racing in 1953, 1956 and from 1996, while Phillip Island hosted a round of the motorcycle world championship in 1989 and from 1997 onwards.

Matthew Nicholson