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Seven Mile Beach NSW

The Australian land speed record was set on the beach at Gerroa in 1929 by a bloke called Wizard Smith.

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Back In The Day . . . 1929
Seven Mile Beach, NSW

Clad in 1920s high fashion and aviator helmets, goggles and gloves, RAC members regularly took their cars racing in Gerringong, 126km south of Sydney, on secluded Seven Mile Beach. Rolls Royce engines were fired up, land speed records were broken, gallant drivers scythed through surf and dodged promontories – and spectators attended in droves.

With Black Head at one end and Beecroft Head seven miles distant, today the beach in between remains a popular playing field for folk, just as it did in the ’20s, when the sandy stretch was an Eastern Creek substitute.

In 1924, motoring legend Boyd Edkins took out a 12-mile sprint in his gorgeous Vauxhall (among a field of Mercedes, Bugattis and Buicks). His victory hit headlines. Social butterflies rarely skipped the regular racing holiday weekends, vigorously celebrating the pre-race day action while enthusiasts made tracks for the beach, checked out the coastal strip and debated whether the ominous skies promised harsh racing conditions.

And often the conditions were harsh indeed. Rain gushed. Wheels sank into the soggy sand. Spectators freed cars onto solid ground prior to the start of each contest. Wild waters and hammering rain reduced visibility. Sand and sea spray collected on goggles while spectators cheered all the louder, crowding the course for a better view. Wheels bobbed about, tyres kicked back wads of sand and weaker cars choked up. Mechanics manipulated engines, carefree spirits chatted and officials timed the speed demons in three-, 12- or 24-mile loops.

Families flocked to Seven Mile Beach for yet another meet at the turn of the decade - this one slightly different. The beach gathered its regular excitable crowd, but a particularly rare feat was achieved: motoring hero Norman “Wizard” Smith claimed the Australian land speed record of 132mph with a propelling Rolls Royce engine borrowed from the RAAF.

AT was able to track down 87-year-old Clive Emery, a local who attended the races as a small child and lives, still, above Seven Mile. “The untamed excitement of running between Buicks and Bugattis was so thrilling,” he says. “Thinking now of those magical days and the chaos we caused, we were well and truly in our element.”


  1. Australian Traveller http://www.australiantraveller.com/index.cfm?page_id=1692
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Above: BETWEEN THE FLAGS First appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald on 18 Nov 1929, you’re looking at, from left to right, “possibly a Studebaker 8, Chrysler with outside exhaust, WB Thompson in Bugatti Type 37A and Hope Bartlett in a Type 43.”

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