Auto club to celebrate rich history at Willowbank
AS one of the oldest motorsport organisations in Queensland, the Ipswich West Moreton Auto Club is rich in history.
That will be remembered at Willowbank Park Raceway this weekend at a 60-year celebration.
The club has been hosting a range of events at the Ipswich Motorsport Precinct since the 1980s.
The IWMAC was the first group to use vacant land at the site, under a verbal agreement with the then Moreton Shire Council. The first lease was signed in 1975.
In the late 1970s, long-serving Ipswich official Errol Bognuda helped plan what was to become the current motorsport mecca.
However, before setting up at Willowbank, the auto club regularly raced in rallies, autocross and gymkhanas around south east Queensland.
Early club member Keith Self remembers how the Ipswich West Moreton Auto Club was formed mainly for rallies in those days.
In 1959, go-karting racing was started at the old Ipswich drive-in theatre site at Raceview.
"Needing CAMS affiliation to race, the go- kart club became a sort of an affiliated club to the auto club, a little brother to the auto club," Self recalls.
"I joined the go-kart club and by joining the go-kart club, you automatically became a member of the auto club."
From there, Self became involved in auto club events at locations like the Bushrats soccer ground at Dinmore, Woolworths carpark at Booval, nearby farms and Lowood.
"Wherever we could get a paddock, we would use," he said.
Joining Self in the early days of racing were people like Bognuda, Evan Thomas and Bill Lubke.
Members would hold get-togethers on the top floor and at the bar of the North Star Hotel.
The club's early base was the Hibernian Hall in Darling Street.
"We had no actual clubhouse but we used to hire the hall up there," Self said.
"We operated out of there until we got a long-term lease on the old radio 4IP station. It was upstairs above the Flour Mill. That was our first sort of permanent base."
The club later relocated its headquarters to the old Masonic Hall at Bundamba.
Self remained with the auto club until 1974.
In the early days, Self said former IWMAC vice-president Thomas was "the main driving force behind the auto club".
"If he wasn't there, the club probably wouldn't have been there," Self said.
Self has fond memories of the club spirit. "It was the camaraderie and organised car racing - not on the roads," he said.
Self remembers auto club members taking five car loads of people to Bathurst for the big race.
The Ipswich West Moreton Auto Club is celebrating 60 years with a special weekend of activities at Willowbank Park.
The official opening is at 5pm on Saturday with a club hall dedication planned in honour of founding member Evan Thomas. Saturday's events also include Auto X Twilight racing from 1pm. Dirt sprints racing is planned from 10am on Sunday.