ANOTHER SA TRACK FOR SALE: Buddy Fuller on a trick bike in front of the main grandstand of the Wembley Stadium. The iconic track is up for auction. Image: Speedway-sa.com
JOHANNESBURG - Another iconic venue in the annals of South African motorsport, the historic Wembley Raceway in Sturrock Park, Johannesburg, could be forever lost to the sport when it comes under the gavel in July 2015.
The raceway was the home of dirt track-speedway, oval track, hot rod and sprint-car racing in the City of Gold for over sixty years. According to the SA Commercial Property News, the venue is set to be auctioned by Auction Inc. on Thursday (July 2 2015).
The Wembley Raceway sale follows a year after the world-renowned Kyalami racetrack in Midrand was also put on auction to be sold off to the highest bidder.
Luckily for local motorsport enthusiasts the track was saved from becoming a housing estate by Toby Venter, MD of Porsche South Africa, who acquired the property with a bid of R205-million.
The Wembley raceway is synonymous with the heyday of speedway and oval track racing in the 1940s. Every Friday evening the crowds would gather to watch the speedway motorcycle riders compete, and they again returned when the venue was revived in the early ‘nineties.
UP FOR SALE: The Raceway has a large oval track , grand stand, workshop and helipad. Image: Sergio Ferreira / www.auctioninc.co.za
WEMBLEY AND BUDDY FULLER
Wembley is also associated with the late Buddy Fuller, one of South Africa’s most successful speedway riders and the man instrumental in introducing speedway racing to the Sturrock Park venue.
Since opening in 1934, Wembley was home to greyhound racing on the Rand, but when this was banned after World War 2 Fuller’s proposal for speedway was accepted, with the first meeting staged on November 29 1947.
Fuller, known as ‘Mr Speedway’, ‘Mr Hot Rod’, ‘Mr Oval’ or just plain ‘Buddy’, was recognised as the doyen of oval track racing promoters. He brought stock cars to Wembley in 1955 and soon after launched the Cavalcade of Speed, comprising speedway, stock car racing and stunts.
In 1966 he imported American V8 sprint car racing and later also popularised modified saloon oval track racing and Australian side-car speedway in the country. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Motorsport South Africa in 2003, two years before he passed away.
The stadium and raceway, on seven hectares of land, include two grandstands, a warehouse and a registered helipad – prime real estate in the heart of the Johannesburg metropole, and for this reason the owners have decided to dispose of it by public auction that will take place on July 2 at 12pm at the Houghton Golf Club Johannesburg.
Click here for more information on the auction.
Is there another Buddy Fuller or Toby Venter out there to save this historic venue for South African motorsport?
SIMPLE DAYS: The workshops at the Wembley Raceway Stadium. Image: www.speedway-sa.com