Vintage speedcars on show
MAX Newton can't get the thrill of the chase out of his veins, and nor would he want to.
Use all the petrol head clichs you like, and he will agree with every one of them.
Now living in Imbil, Max will share the love of his life -- other than wife Jan and their three children -- with showgoers at the Mary Valley Show Rodeo and Woodchop on August 22.
That passion is vintage speedcars, and at least five of the nostalgic vehicles from the 1950s and '60s will be on display at the Imbil Showgrounds for the annual show.
Max wishes he could start them up and do a lap around the arena, but apart from causing havoc in the ring with the showjumping and pony club events, he wouldn't have the time for such an interactive demonstration.
You see, these speedcars are built without starter motors! If you managed to catch the display at the Gympie Show this year, you would have seen the ute employed to tow the speedcars until their engines kicked in.
This lack of a starter helps keep the weight of the speedcar to a minimum, ensuring good race times, and Max said drivers had been known to drill holes in their chassis for exactly the same reason.
While the cars will present a static display at Imbil for the show, take the time to talk to Max and other representatives from the Historic Speedway Association of Australia, because they really can bring the glory days of speedcars to life for you.
Max was drawn to the sport as a young fellow when he was looking for something to do in his spare time after competitive pushbike racing. He was Queensland champion six times on the velodrome, and worked as a mechanic.
He joined the crew on a speedcar and when the owner wanted to upgrade, he managed to buy and race it for his own. He ended up owning five competitive speedcars in his time.
Wife Jan says the cars were a part of life, and you would always find them at the track on Saturday nights, but sometimes if was Friday night too.
The speedcars no longer race, but they can be seen in action at spirited race demonstrations such as that at the Gympie and Nambour shows, and a demonstration night will be held in Brisbane in September.
While Max still drives, he no longer races, and instead he actively follows his son's performances on the competitive Formula 500 circuit.
Max recorded consistent placings over his years in the speedcar industry, but never landed a major gong for his efforts.
He still however holds the 50-lap record at the Ekka in the saloon car event, and in 1970 managed to beat seven Offenhausers in Brisbane to top the point score for the year.
At the time, the speedcars would cover the quarter-mile strip in under 17 seconds -- that equates to something like 60 miles per hour.
Now Max says the new cars are getting down to an unbelievable 13-14 seconds over the same distance.
"You do not have time to even think about a prang at that speed -- it just happens," Max said.
He reckons he is still a leadfoot on the road these days, but a careful one.
"The difference is that I can handle corners at the same speed as I take the straight, but I know I am in control.
"There's a big difference between that and plain speeding!"
Catch Max and the vintage speedcars at the Mary Valley Show on August 22 at the Imbil Showgrounds.
Action starts at 8am with equestrian ring events, and the rough riding bull and bronc rodeo events will be held after lunch. Classic rock band the Foggs and fireworks at 7.30pm will round off the evening.
Inquiries to show secretary Heinke Butt on 5488 6848 or visit www.maryvalleyshow.com
SPEEDWAY ACTION: Max Newton behind the wheel in the 1970s.
TEAMWORK: Max and Jan Newton with one of their speedcars.
MODERN VERSION: Speedcars have evolved into winged vehicles like this one, ready for the Formula 500 series.
Imbil Showgrounds, Imbil
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