gnoo blas - Bookeasy
fast facts about
• Track opened - January 1953
• Track closed - October 1961
• Distance - 3.75 miles (6.34km)
Start / Finish
Lap Record - Motor Vehicle
Set by Jon Leighton in a Cooper Climax in October 1960.
Time: 2 minutes, 7.4 seconds.
Average Speed: 105.2mph (178.1kmh)
Lap Record - Motor Cycle
Set by Eric Hinton on a Norton in June 1960.
Time: 2 minutes, 23 seconds.
Average Speed: 95mph (152.88kmh)
For more information on the
Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club www.gnooblas.com
gnoo blas circuit map
Fastest Flying Eighth was set by Reg Hunt in a Mazzarrati in
January 1956 at 161.8mph (273.93kmh)
Fastest Motorcycle Flying Eighth set by Eric Hinton on a Norton
at 149mph (239.79kmh)
Admission charges to the races were set at six shillings (60 cents) for
adults and three shillings (30 cents) for children. Car drivers were to
pay an extra two shillings (20 cents) parking fee.
The line up of competitors included Jack Brabham, who ran a
variety of cars and who held the lap record until the final meeting.
Stan Jones (Maybach) Reg Hunt (250F Maserati), Prince Bira of Siam
(Maserati) Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze (Ferraris), Alec Mildrin,
Jack Myers, Bill Paterson, Curly Brydon, Dick Cobden, Jack Murray,
Bill Murray, Ted Gray, Bob Jane and many more.
Races were to be held every 30 to 40 mintues and between them
through-traffic would be allowed on Forest Road, the main straight,
under escort, to “ensure there was no loitering...”
The total cost to build the Gnoo Blas track was initially £14, 000
($28,000) but abnormally wet weather slowed the work, blowing
the total cost of the track to around £24,000 ($48,000) £
Start / Finish
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Orange Visitor Information Centre
FREE CALL 1800 069 466
Gnoo Blas Race Circuit
There was no racing in 1956 and 1957 but with new safety
requirements met, it resumed in January 1958 after volunteers
worked late in the night under car and truck lights putting up
new fencing. Around 10,000 people turned up to see Jack
Brabham easily win the South Pacific championship in his
Cooper Climax. He also set a new lap record of 2 minutes
12 seconds, an average speed of 102mph.
The Plan to build the Gnoo Blas track was hatched in April 1952
by a group of people associated with the annual Orange Cherry
Blossom Festival with lots of prompting from the Australian
Sporting Car Club, which had had a row over Mt Panorama at
Bathurst and wanted somewhere else to race. Part of the simple
triangle of quiet country roads selected for the track was in the
Orange city area and the remainder in neighbouring Canobolas
The roads were reconstructed and sealed with a light coat of
bitumen carried out by both Councils under the supervision of
their engineers Bill Holness and Alf Stephen. Building the track
wasn’t made any easier by opposition from some Orange people
who were fearful their Council rates would go up to pay for the
track while others said the City needed better amenities first like
a swimming pool and new footpaths.
The road was never very wide but most of Australia’s best drivers
raced at Gnoo Blas at one time or another, including Jack Brabham,
who ran a variety of cars and held the lap record until the
second last meeting. Brabham also recorded the first 100mpg
lap in Australia there.
Gnoo Blas hosted the first international race meeting in Australia
along with the first Australian Touring Car Championship, won by
David McKay from Bill Pitt and Ron Hodgson, all in Jaguars. For
some reason or another, Gnoo Blas also boasted the first photo
finish for cars but history doesn’t record whether it was used!
The opening car meeting attracted 12,500 people on Anniversary
Day, Monday, 26 January 1953 and followed a motorcycle
meeting on the previous Sunday when riders had to contend
with sand spread on the surface to help soak up the new
Local newspaper Central Western Daily described the new track
as ‘the biggest single community enterprise in the history of
Orange and district. Its construction and the planning of the
meeting was a tough fight, particularly in the early stages,
for a few progressive citizens with faith in a big idea ..’.
But the new track had a far from rosy future. It faced problem
after problem in the eight years it was open. Tough opposition
came from neighbouring Bathurst, whose local MP Gus Kelly,
the NSW Chief Secretary at the time, did his best to make sure
Gnoo Blas didn’t become a serious rival for Mt Panorama and
put every obstacle, including the introduction of the Speedway’s
Act, in its way.
But Gnoo Blas weathered the early storms and ran its second
meeting on Easter Monday, 6 April 1953 with 65-year-old
grandfather Tom Sulman winning five of the eight races on the
program in his 1496cc s/c Maserati.
The meeting was also the debut road meeting for a young Jack
Brabham in 1000cc Vincent HRD-engined Cooper, who managed
a third to Sulman and Bill Murray (Alfa Alvis) in one race.
In January 1960 the first Australian Touring Car Champsionship,
now the V8s, was run at Gnoo Blas along with the first race for
the new class for Grand Touring cars. David McKay won from
Bill Pitt and Ron Hodgson, all in Jaguars, in an action packed
race. McKay recorded 132.7mph on the long straight.
But dwindling crowds and the fact the Cherry Blossom motor
racing committee still owed the Orange Council around £7,000
for the original road construction and about £1000 to private
debenture holders, the writing was on the wall. Orange Light
Car Club, which had been left with a debt of several thousand
pounds to Total Oil Company on behalf of the ASCC and the
Cherry Blossom car racing committee, ran the final meeting