Valvoline Raceway (formerly known as Granville Speedway, Parramatta City Raceway and Sydney Speedway) was the brainchild of former driver Sid Hopping and rose out of the ground to host its first practice session in January 1977. Sid was no newcomer to the sport and rode sidecars to great success in the sixties before trading in his leathers for a 16mm movie camera.
He shot all of the classics for television news and sports before taking up modified racing at which he truly excelled. From the Marshall Sargent Modified to his Jim Culbert CAE special, the dices between Garry Rush in the ex-Johnny Anderson Sprintcar and Sid Hopping were just superb. Sid and his partner Bert Wilder operated Parramatta City Raceway (as it was then known) as a Friday night venue for a decade. The first event for Modified Sprintcars was won by Bob Blacklaw, and this new, emerging division of Sprintcars were soon to be the powerhouse at the Sydney venue.
Sid and Bert sold their PCR interests to Bob Ruttley who made major improvements to the venue before selling out to Garry Rush who took on David Lander as a partner six months later. In 1989 Lander took over PCR as a sole trader. David Lander introduced many innovations at the venue including Australia’s first $50,000-to-win event and the first Australian Sprintcar event to be aired live on TV. Lander, a former Modified Sprintcar driver, sold the business to International Speedway Pty Ltd on May 15, 2001, headed by ex-pat Australian Brian Healey and American Bob Spence. On Thursday, June 18, 2009, Brian Healey the speedway community was saddened to learn of the tragic news, that Brian Healey suffered a heart attack whilst at work in Sacramento, USA. A consortium of businessmen and Sprintcar owners – Garry Rush, Rod Bowen, Ian Loudoun and Brett Morris collectively formed Sydney Speedway Pty Ltd and acquired the famed Sydney venue in November, 2009.
Valvoline Raceway has hosted many national titles over the years, including the Australian Sprintcar Championship on five occasions: 1978, 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2008, where Garry Rush (1978 and 1992), Garry Brazier (1997 and 2008) and Max Dumesny (2002) where crowned the national champions. The Australian Speedcar Championship has been held at PCR twice: 1994 and 2006, won respectively by Warrenne Ekins and American Davey Ray.
PCR has held the Australian Super Sedan Championship once, in 2003, claimed by Victorian Mick Nicola. The best in the world finally arrived at Australia’s home of Sprintcar racing in the year 2004 when Valvoline Raceway hosted the first ever ‘Outlaws Downunder’, the famed World of Outlaws troupe including legends Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell as well as thirteen other American superstars.
Parramatta Superstar Kerry Madsen took it to the world’s best when he won both preliminary nights before ‘The King of the Outlaws’, Steve Kinser, won the Inaugural Outlaws Downunder. The second Outlaws Downunder event was held at Valvoline Raceway on January the 13-15, 2005, in which a record twenty-four American and some forty-six Australian Sprintcars entered. Kerry Madsen repeated his feat of a year prior by claiming night one, with Danny ‘The Dude’ Lasoski winning night two, prior to Donny Schatz wrapping up the final night’s celebrations. It was a Donny Schatz domination in 2006, winning both preliminary and the final night of Outlaws Downunder III. The legendary Steve Kinser claimed both opening nights of Outlaws Downunder IV, with Donny Schatz snaring the final night’s glory. In 2008, the fifth and final version of the East Coast Pipeline Outlaws Downunder was run with the final night being won by Sydney’s own Robbie Farr. At the completion of the 2009/10 season PCR had amassed 942 race meetings since its inception and 685 Sprintcar A-Main events.
Garry Rush holds the most A-Main wins at PCR with 96 victories. At the completion of the 2009/10 season, Brooke Tatnell and Max Dumesny sit on equal second. Thus, it is a neck and neck battle between Tatnell and Dumesny for outright second in the all-time tally. Bob Blacklaw and American Donny Schatz currently sit at equal fourth on the all-time list with 33 victories. Australia’s biggest first prize for Sprintcars – the $50,000-to-win Sprintcar Classic – has only had three winners since the inaugural race in February, 2000: Joey Saldana on one occasion, likewise just one victory for Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz has held up the winner’s trophy on eight occasions.
Wayne Fisher set the very first one-lap record on December 9, 1977 with a time of 16.70 seconds. Today, the one lap record is held by American Cody Darrah with a time of 11.564 seconds set on January 7, 2011.