Historical Events
Reopening of the Renmark Track 

Early in 1988 it was brought up at a club meeting that we could try and re-establish a cycling track in the Riverland, at this point in time only for a safe area to practice sprinting and general training. An approach was made to the Renmark Council with a request to use the Renmark Oval, as the foundations of the original track were still there. By a strange coincidence the council were about to discuss whether they were going to grass the area over to extend the grass oval to the spectator barrier. Fortunately, on the council were quite a few older members that remembered the old track racing days especially the Anzac Day bike races that were held at the same time as the Anzac day football match.

With permission granted from the council we first approached some of the old riders for their input as to how we prepared the surface. These included Tom Perry and Bob Fisher, our only ex-track rider was Bob Pankhurst and with his enthusiasm quite a few members obtained track bikes, most of them being converted old road bikes. Scherers Contractors were approached to assist and at no cost to the club they graded the track area and laid down an extra crusher dust surface. The first track racing took place on the 15th Jan 1989 with 12 riders taking part including a couple from the Mildura Club.

During the track season for the next couple of years every Friday night was taken up with pouring water from a council water truck onto the track and then rolling the surface with the truck and members cars, creating a sludgy surface, this was then left to dry and most Sundays we had quite a good surface to race on. After 2 hours racing on a Sunday morning the track usually was starting to break up and an art of dodging the potholes was soon acquired. That final 100 metres sprint was always a little hairy with the back wheel starting to slide out and some cases, mainly Bob Pankhurst, the front wheel as well. An interesting phenomena did appear, the older cyclists from the 1950?s told us that the best part of the Renmark track was out by the score board and sure enough nearly 40 years later that still held to be true, obviously had something to do with the drainage in that area. The maintenance of the track was always a problem so Paringa Council offered us some additive powder that they had used on dirt roads to create a hard surface. There wasn?t enough to do the job so the club had to spend about $600 to buy the extra. This powder was made from termite nests and although not too successful for roads was thought to be the answer for our bike track. Once again Scherers contractors came to our assistance they ripped up the surface of the track and mixed the powder in to the crusher dust. We also added bags of the powder into the council water truck and watered it in. The members that helped with this process were covered in the stuff, and when it got wet was quite sticky. Scherers then rolled the surface with their multiwheeled roller and the surface was then finished off with cars being driven around and around the track. The final surface was excellent but unfortunately only lasted about 4 weeks before it had to be watered and rolled again. This was the usual case, but at least the maintenance was only monthly and not weekly. In 1991 it was decided that maybe we could afford to bitumise the surface.

Because it was going to be a financial risk we obtained guarantees from a few business people and friends of the cycling club. On approaching Scherers and particularly their manager at the time, Henri Douvendan, we were able to have the track prepared and sealed for $6000. What a difference it made, the first stage was just a sealer put down about October 1994 and although a little rough was still better than the dirt track of old. Around February the next year the second stage was laid, we had a lot of sweeping to do to get rid of the loose stones but once this was cleared the surface was excellent. The council painted the lines for us which really finished it off. By this time we had raised the money required so was free from debt as well.We raised the money mainly by selling Bingo tickets at the Berri Plaza and picking grapes for a day at Barmera.

Sadly the track now is starting to show some wear & tear and the member interest in track racing has diminished over the last few years. There still is some interest within the club with a few members holding track bikes but more interest is needed to be able to upgrade the existing track surface.

G. Lawton May 2014

Barry Skinner Email Re- Track Racing in the 50's

From: Barry Skinner [mailto:skinnerbb@optusnet.com.au]
Sent: Friday, 27 June 2014 10:43 PM
To: Steve Jaensch
Subject: Re Renmark Track

 

Hi Steve I just read about Renmark Track on RCC website

And just thought this little snippet might interest you

So FYI

I raced on the track several times and so did my brother who at 16 WON the RENMARK WHEELRACE (he beat Bob Fisher)

In 1957 (following the 1956 Olympics) Olympic Tandem Champion Ian Joey Brown (Vic) Dick Ploog (Vic) Olympic 1000m Silver Medallist and myself raced a 3 rider Match Race Series. We all stayed in Berri Hotel (now BRH)

My recollection is Berri Hotel paid for the 2 Vics to appear. I knew both guys in fact Dick who is deceased married a girl Shirley Stewart who been living in Adel for a few months with her bike rider brother Ken and his wife a 3 kids. Ken was training me and I dated Shirley until shewent  back to Melbourne and about 2 yrs later married Dick

I first met Joey in Melb in 1955 he is still alive but has had a stroke we became and still are quite good friends. When the Pros * Ams amalgamated I became CA VP and we formed COMMISSIONS and I asked Joey if he would become a Commissioner on the CA Track Commission and along with about 4 other guys we worked together for about 4 years     *I was Aust Pro President)

I do hope you can save the track although lack of Track racers doesn’t help We’ve got a similar story in Adelaide trying to save Hanson Reserve

Just a couple of thoughts for you Obviously Intro to riding a bike - safety sessions on the Track for school kids AND Intro to riding a bike for women (well M & W) but you might gather more empathy by involving Women and School goers

 

Kind regards,

Barry

Barry Skinner OAM

M: 0412 344 381

P: 08 8331 0078

E: skinnerbb@optusnet.com.au