Is Western Springs Speedway Culture?

Here is the video which has been paired up with For The Love Of Glory. 

The footage was taken by my Dad sometime in the early ‘70s, and when we converted it to digital I thought it would be great to set it to some of my music one day. 

When For The Love Of Glory was finished it was just perfect. 

 

I spent a lot of time hanging around Western Springs Park in my childhood. Most Saturdays my Dad took my brother and me to ‘The Springs’ where we ran around the pit or the surrounding park.

There was also the vacant land where the zoo now houses the elephants. There were over- grown trees and remnants of old concrete buildings;  a wonderland for young suburban kids to explore.

Once I was allowed to go for a ride on one of the midget cars with driver Eddie James.  I sat up on the side of the car and he held me around the waist so I wouldn’t fall off. (I yelled ‘faster!’ as we sped around and around and, judging by the footage, we were going quite fast indeed)

When the ride came to an end I got out of the midget on the wrong side and burned my leg on the uncovered exhaust pipe. It was quite a bad burn but because I didn’t want to go home I didn’t tell anyone, and put my gumboots on. 

Later, at home, I explained to my Mum that I couldn’t take my gumboots off because they had stuck to the burn on my leg. I still have the scar. 

Some of the footage from this video was filmed in what is now known as Victoria Park Market. The incarnation of Vic Park Market in this video was when it was a panel shop and wrecking yard. Some years before that it was a morgue, so if you ever feel the strange vibe that I always get in that place… well that might be it. 

Who gets to define what is culture? 

I often think about the passion and motivation of the Western Springs Speedway members who are in this video. We often talk about culture and how best to preserve it, however I wonder if such a thing as a ‘racing club’ should be afforded the same privilege if indeed ‘culture is seen in what they do’ – over everything else. 

My opinion is yes, car racing is a culture because it defines a large group of people who are passionate about something and live eat and breathe it.  This isn’t just a Saturday night fancy – this is a way of life and a way identifying with a part of society. 

 I am always been saddened to read of Auckland Council inch-worming towards moving Western Springs away from its spiritual home. How would the Holy Trinity Cathedral  congregation feel about having to move out of their church because the Council thought it would be better for the people of Auckland not to have Christian buildings in Parnell and  move them all to Henderson? 

The powers that be are quick to assume they alone understand the meaning of culture and have the right to define it but I ask; Why is it that only cultures which have a country of origin, art or religion attached to them are worthy of protection?  

If enough people identify with a certain way of living  - surely this should be considered worthy of protecting too?

Speedway racing is not my culture, however I don’t like it when a large group of people are marginalised because their beliefs do not fit inside a conventional box.  Who is to say this is more or less important than particular art or music? 

As for the noise...  I live close by Western Springs and the hum of the engines is always comforting. It makes me happy knowing people are having a nice time with their friends and families and doing something they enjoy. The trains are more of a noise nuisance and they would affect many more people – every day. 

I remember with great fondness how much Western Springs Speedway meant to all of the people who appear in this video – they loved it. They loved it a lot more than speaking English, going to Church or going to an Art Gallery. Many of them are no longer with us so this video acknowledges them and I do hope this in some way keeps their spirit alive. 

And to Auckland city councillors who have taken it upon themselves to decree that Western Springs has no cultural value or is not worth saving, and who continue to bully them out of town – I believe your behaviour is so disrespectful it is obscene. Think about that when you are doing something that has cultural significance to you. 

I dedicate this verse to Len and his cohorts who will always be remembered by me as nothing more than the ones who are trying to kill the culture of Western Springs Speedway.

I have lied and stolen cheated made them get down on their knees 

Eliminated rivals left them twisting in the trees 

All for the love of you

Oh for the love of glory – she is such an elusive Queen 

Oh for the love of glory – she will lick the damage clean. 

(Excerpt from For The Love Of Glory) 

Note: There is quite a lot more footage than this  (my father filmed a lot more of the cars than he did of his family! ) and I was thinking I should really set it all to another few tracks for the racing fans out there who have sent me messages saying how much they enjoyed seeing the antique cars and bikes in action – so stay tuned. 

Please share if you would like to save Western Springs Speedway.