Image and information sourced from the Powerhouse Museum
This Rudge speedway motorcycle, built in England in 1933 by Rudge-Whitworth Ltd of Coventry, is an excellent example of the speedway motorcycles on which dare devil riders thrilled crowds of spectators in the 1930s. At the time, speedway racing was more popular than football and cricket are today. It was thrilling to watch, with a fast tempo, demanding a high degree of technical skill and genuine courage from the riders.
Australia is credited with inventing dirt track speedway racing with the first recorded race being held at Maitland Showground, NSW in 1923, although earlier races were held in the United States from 1909. An Australian Speedway team took the sport to Britain in 1928 and a series of tests were held which were the forerunners to the world championships. In Sydney, crowds of up to 50,000 flocked to venues such as the Sydney Showground and Speedway, known as "The Royale", at the former Royal Agricultural Showgrounds at Moore Park, now part of the Fox Studios complex. Australia reigned as a world speedway force until the rise to dominance of British, American and New Zealand riders in the 1960s.
This Rudge speedway motorcycle was owned and ridden by the Australian champion and international speedway star of the 1930s and 1940s, Ray Taylor, whose riding nickname was "Broadside". The motorcycle is named "'Daisy" after his wife. Taylor began racing at the age of 19 in 1928, only five years after the sport was pioneered in Australia, and quickly rose to fame. He rode at major speedway venues in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, before being chosen to represent Australia in the 1932-1933 Speedway Test season in England, joining legendary Australian speedway stars including Vic Huxley, Lionel Van Praag, and Arthur ...