History of Oran Park race track recorded

Proud as punch: Author Neville Beyer was thrilled with the turn-out at the launch of his new history book on Friday.
Proud as punch: Author Neville Beyer was thrilled with the turn-out at the launch of his new history book on Friday.

From having fireside chats with racing legends to breathing in the smell of burning rubber around the track, Neville Beyer was in the thick of things during Oran Park Circuit's heyday.

Now, more than 50 years after the circuit opened, the racing superfan has released a history of the track.

Mr Beyer launched his book The Quickest way round is on the Bitumen: The History of the Oran Park Circuit at the Oran Park Town sales and information centre on Friday before a crowd of about 70 people from as far and wide as Brisbane and Nelson Bay.

Mr Beyer said it was a "wonderful" event and he was happy to chat about the book with people who remembered the track.

"I was scheduled to talk for seven and a half minutes but I get on a roll and ended up going for about 20 minutes," he said. "No one complained though. I just got so excited to see the old photos there."

Mr Beyer spent years tracking down drivers, volunteers, organisers and others involved with the circuit - which was operational between 1962 and 2010 - and interviewing them for his book. He was thrilled when the Perich family - which owns Greenfields Development Co, the company behind Oran Park Town - agreed to publish the book.

Packed house: Thousands of fans filled the stadium every week during the height of Oran Park's success including here in 1974. Picture: Alan Gilbert Purcell

Packed house: Thousands of fans filled the stadium every week during the height of Oran Park's success including here in 1974. Picture: Alan Gilbert Purcell

Mr Beyer praised Oran Park Town's strong ties to its racing history, including street names honouring drivers and racing memorabilia at the library.

He said compiling the book "was a buzz from start to finish".

"It took me so long to put together that I was actually enjoying myself when I read back through what I'd written - it was like learning it again," Mr Beyer said. "The book is like a trip back in time. A lot of the people I spoke to have passed on now, so my interviews are the only records that remain of their memories at Oran Park."

Mr Beyer's love affair with both the track and motor racing began when he moved to Sydney from Melbourne as a 19-year-old.

"I had some friends working as flag marshals when I went to the track one day, and they sort of pulled me over the fence and there I was helping out too," he said.

"I was completely taken by the sights and the sounds and the smells. I stayed on and did lots of other jobs there over the years.

"In all the years the circuit was running I only ever missed two race days."

Mr Beyer recalled getting to know legend Peter Brock at the track.

"We used to have a chat around the campfire with Brock, his first wife Heather and his mum and dad," he said. "Just having a chat like you or I would - there was no ego in it."

Copies are available at Guy Stuff (Narellan Town Centre, Windsor), Narellan Newspower Go, and oranparkracing.com.au.

Just like you and me: Neville Beyer said Peter Brock (pictured at Oran Park in 1978) loved a chat around the campfire back in the day.

Just like you and me: Neville Beyer said Peter Brock (pictured at Oran Park in 1978) loved a chat around the campfire back in the day.