The 50th anniversary for Surfers Raceway and the US Dragfest turned into a nostalgic talkfest as hundreds attended celebrations on April 10 at the site formerly occupied by the Gold Coast race track.
The feedback to organisers John Winterburn and Lex Swayn was that the everyone thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be reacquainted with friends and reminisce, not only about the 50th anniversary of the opening of Surfers Paradise International Raceway and the Queensland appearance of six American dragsters, but the entire 21 years of the track’s operation.
A display of memorabilia, race cars and hot rods included two that raced on that day 50 years ago. Placed each side of the stage were the Courtesy Chevrolet Special dragster, owned by Lex Swayn and driven by American Bob Keith in 1966, and a ’32 Ford Roadster, owned by John Parker and driven by John Anderson in 1966.
The central display also included the “Truckin’ T” Altered of Jim Reed, who competed in his dragster at the first Surfers race, and the six-cylinder dragster of Warren Armour, a Sydney competitor who race extensively at Surfers.
Awards provided by Willowbank Raceway were presented to Jim Reed and John Winterburn recognising their outstanding contributions to drag racing.
Jim’s award acknowledged the 60 years since he had first drag raced and 50 years of Reed Racing as a multi-generation team, while Stomper, who began his involvement in drag racing at the opening Surfers meeting, was honoured for his 50 continuous years as a drag racing official.
The words on the plaques are published below.
People who returned to the site 50 years after being at the first event included competitors Jim Reed, Bob Dunn, Ralph Donohoo, Reg Sothman and Evan Isaacs, Ash Marshall’s crew chief Dennis Calkin, and officials John Fleming, John Winterburn and Keith Cunnington, as well as many who watched from the spectator mounds that day. Former Surfers media officer and PA announcer Keith White returned to the microphone to provide updates and interviews during the day. After receiving his award, Stomper acknowledged the service of David Harding, manager at Surfers for most of its 21-year history.
The words on Stomper’s plaque are:
IN RECOGNITION OF 50 YEARS OF MERITORIOUS SERVICE TO DRAG RACING AS A VOLUNTEER OFFICIAL 1966-2016
Presented to John “Stomper” Winterburn
This award acknowledges John Winterburn’s unmatched achievements during half a century of continuous service to drag racing in Australia:
21 years as an official at Surfers Paradise International Raceway
15 years as Surfers Raceway meeting director
14 years as Willowbank Raceway meeting director
27 years as a meeting director, including two years in that role at both Surfers and Willowbank, the longest service by any race director in Australia
34 years as a member of the Willowbank Raceway management committee
32 years as president of Willowbank Raceway’s board of management
From the moment John Winterburn answered a request to help out at the first meeting at Surfers Raceway in 1966, he devoted his life to the goal of drag racing excellence. He exerted an enormously positive impact on the sport through his dedication, selfless commitment and organisational skills. This lifetime endeavour went hand-in-hand with a level of integrity that was beyond reproach.
In appreciation, from a grateful board of Willowbank Raceway, staff, volunteer officials and the entire drag racing community.
The words on Jim’s plaque are:
HONOURING 60 YEARS OF DRAG RACING
Jim Reed began drag racing more than 60 years ago at the former World War II airstrip at Strathpine.
After Jim and Nelma married in 1957, they indulged their passion for motor racing, mostly with go-karts, until competition-style drag racing kicked off at Lowood in 1965. In the following 50 years, Jim and Nelma never missed a season of competition, Reed Racing grew to second and third generation members, and thousands of Australians gained great pleasure from seeing their vehicles go down the country’s drag racing tracks. In that half century, Jim and Nelma, their children, grandchildren and extended family members, won multiple Australian and Willowbank championships, and set numerous time and speed records.
Off the race track, Jim’s tuning and fabrication knowledge, and his blower, engine and driveline servicing skills aided immeasurably in the sport’s growth, as did his mentoring of many young enthusiasts who, in turn, used that expertise to make their own input into drag racing.
Presented on April 10, 2016 to Jim Reed and the entire Reed Racing family, in recognition and appreciation of their enormous contribution to drag racing.
To a true legend of the sport, in thanks and appreciation, from the Willowbank Raceway board, staff, volunteer officials and the entire drag racing community.
Gallery by dragphotos.com.au