Gold Coast Kart Club

My name is Terry Stephenson. I was treasurer of the Gold Coast Kart Club from approximately 1971 to 1980.

One day in 1971, my brother in law Rod Haines and I attended a meeting of the club at the Central Street, Southport, home of Mr.Barry Burgess.

The president at the time was Mr Doug Pilling. It must have been the Annual General Meeting because I went home the treasurer and Rod went home the secretary.

The club had a small track at Coomera where their racing activities took place. The track was on the western side of the Mobil Service Station at Coomera and situated in a cleared area amongst the scrub. It was a dirt track with an oiled surface. If you went off the track you ended up in the bushes or into a tree. Nobody was ever seriously hurt as far as I remember. Barry Burgess was a frequent visitor to the bushes and gained the nickname of ” farmer Burgess “. I think the service station owned the land and I don’t remember paying any rent for its use.

The high tech motors weren’t around at that time or at least at this club. Young Pilling, son of Doug, had a Parilla with magneto ignition. The most popular and reliable motor was the McCulloch chain saw motor and there were a number of those.

It wasn’t long before we were looking for a more suitable track with better facilities and a sealed surface.

I made an appointment with the Hon. Ivan Gibbs MLA and met this charming man in his electorate office in Southport. Ivan was the most helpful and sympathetic to our cause.

Subsequent to our meeting, Mr Gibbs sauced five acres of suitable land in the middle of the bush near Coomera on a property owned by a Mr Bill Day. On the shake of a hand, we settled on an annual rental of $250.00. Gibbs also arranged for a government grant of something like $600.00 which was a great help.

By this time Mr Arthur Hilton had become president and Rod and I was still Secretary and Treasurer.

We had no money so I made an appointment with my bank manager at the Commercial Bank of Australia in Surfers Paradise and organised a $4000.00 loan secured by ten members who were prepared to back the cause.

Work started on the track. The whole five acres was virgin bush. Tall trees and scrub. Most of the tall trees stayed but we cleared the bush somehow with the help of Mr Day and his ” Case ” brand front end loader. We had chainsaws and bonfires and beers afterwards.

Bill Day was a real ” bushie “, possibly in his mid-sixties.. Even though he owned all this land, worth tens of millions today, he lived barefooted in a corrugated iron shack down a dusty track.. Bill would appear unannounced from nowhere with his dog, either astride his trusty¬† ” Case ” or sometimes on horseback. Bill found himself a female partner after a while and they would appear together on their horses. He still didn’t wear any shoes though.

After the land was cleared we built a post and wire fence around the entire five acres. I still have the post hole digger we used for that fence.

The next project was to design and lay the road base for the track. Also, build the canteen and toilets. Another major project was to build a better road into the area and it was fortunate Mr Don Baxter from Murwillumbah joined our ranks. Don owned the Besser Brick factory at Murwillumbah and he also owned heavy equipment like trucks and graders and rollers and things. He brought in road base and he constructed a stable road about a kilometre long between the track and the highway. We got all this FREE.

Don probably donated the Besser Blocks for the canteen which was constructed by suitably qualified members.

Then came the track. The asphalt fellow assured us it would be smooth and suitable.

Unfortunately, it was not smooth and it was not suitable. He laid down the bitumen and tipped blue metal over the molten tar-like they did on the old highways. We put up with it for a short period until we somehow raised funds to replace it with hot mix.

Fundraising came in two forms. Income generated from the conduct of race meetings and income raised from Bingo nights which we ran at the CWA hall in Ventura Road Mermaid Beach. Rod used to call the numbers, legs 11, colt 45, 13, lucky for some etc.

Getting good fields at race meetings in the early days was a problem. Our main competing clubs were Golden Valley at Samford and Ipswich which was situated at Mt Crosby. In my opinion, they saw us as a threat and actively boycotted us. Some meetings we only had thirteen starters. We were considered expensive by some when we charged a $1.50 competition fee. Ipswich was $1.00 and proud of it. As time went by (some years) some Brisbane people became our friends, like Dennis Purdy in particular, formally an Ipswich member. Dennis had a big, loud and positive personality and I feel he was a significant connector in bridging the gap between us and the Brisbane people. He also became a close friend of Rod Haines our secretary.

Towards the end of the seventies, we started having our meetings in Brisbane. The first Brisbane meetings were at Newfarm Park in the kiosk where Dennis Purdy was the lessee.

Neil Coleman became president followed by Alan King. The Gold Coast Kart Club had finally become a significant force in Karting in the south-east corner.

We also had support from the Heath family at Tecno Karting Centre which was a big plus. A major event, the “Tecno Pro 100″ was conducted on 25th June 1978. Both Graham and Howard Heath were there together with national champion John Pizzaro and Victorian Robbie Hunter.

Rod Haines & I left Karting in 1980 when others were elected at the AGM. The president at the time was John Vincart.