Penlee Speedway in the lower North Island of New Zealand. Return to N Z Speedway's page
There have been two speedways called Penlee. Each on farms near Masterton and owned by the Cartmell family. Currently it is Ivan who is shown in the first photo below.
This is a report from the Waiwarapa Times-Age of 29th Jan 2000.
Right picture is of a 'race' during the reunion at the "new Penlee"
THEY’RE not quite as fit as
they used to be. Many of them are grandfathers now. The hair is grey, the
leathers have somehow shrunk over the years. The reactions mightn’t be as quick
as they were, nor the vision so keen. But give them a whiff of the exotic smell
of Methanol and Castrol R racing fuel, let them hear the crackle of a high-revving Jawa
speedway engine, and 50 years fall away just for a while.
That’s how it was at an oval lime track on a Hughes Line farm at the weekend, when around 40 former speedway riders turned out for the 30th anniversary of the Penlee speedway. In the 1970s the Penlee track, in the shadows of the Tararuas near Mt Holdsworth, was a significant venue, attracting the top riders from far and wide, with big crowds turning out to watch the action. Before that, of course, there were the glory days of New Zealand speedway, when trainloads of fans stopped at Solway and the showgrounds were a Mecca, along with Kilbirnie and Taita and other circuits around the lower North Island.
Penlee took over from Solway Showgrounds. Penlee has long gone, but Ivan Cartmell keeps the tradition going, with the development of the Hughes Line track, on his farm. Ray Wood, from Carterton, turned up with the original BSA he raced throughout the lower North Island. That bike passed through several hands and eventually Ray found it again, gathering dust in a barn. He has lovingly restored it to better than original condition, and showed that at the age of 60 he can still put in a competitive lap or six. Ray caused some chuckles, going out on to the track with a white scarf billowing behind him, a la the late great Bruce Abernethy, who died last year. Ray was tutored by Abernethy, and raced one of the flamboyant rider’s bikes..
Several of the men at the weekend’s reunion had raced in England and/or represented New Zealand at speedway, following in the footsteps of “greats” like Ivan Mauger (he phoned Ivan Cartmell from Australia to say he couldn’t be at the gathering), Ronnie Moore and Barry Briggs. Kevin Hayden and Kevin Bock, from Wellington, Robin Adlington, from Palmerston North, our own David Bargh, Lance Gandy, Peter Gay ... all have raced at the highest level, and they were there at the weekend.
On left is opening day at Penlee in November 1971 which welcomed 2500 spectators. The Penlee riders quickly became known as the "Penlee Pirates" as the track was not licensed to the ACU. The track started as a 'practice' track for all the riders that were racing over at Napier at the time but it soon became a racing track.
The first champion of the track was Noel Suckling who later rode for Berwick in the British League. Included in the many fine riders who learnt their craft at Penlee were three sets of brothers. They were the Cartmell's, Ivan, Winston and David, the Miller's, Rick, Steve and Gavin and the Bargh's, John Jnr., Lawrence and David.
The first Penlee was a 325 yard track designed
on the English lines and meant for speedway bikes only.
The farm was sold and the track lost to the family.
This photo on right shows Ivan Cartmell on a JAP leading Terry Beresford on a BSA engined bike during a meeting before the fence was erected.
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TQ's were tried at Penlee with cars from
Meanee and Palmerston North attending. #25 is Stu McKay, #5 is John Graham and car
behind is Paul or Terry Jefferies. Taken in 1977
Below are L-R Ross McKay, Ian Thomson, Steve Miller and Merv Hodgson.
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