Deus Ex Machina – Harold Park Paceway Revisited – Harold Park Paceway is a few miles down the road from Camperdown (Deus HQ). It was a harness racing track, or ‘the Trots’ as its affectionately dubbed. 794 meters of premium grade racing gravel.
The prime inner city site was sold to a property developer in 2009 by the state government, since then an injunction has slowed the pace of the redevelopment to a crawl and the track and stadium are slowly falling apart as the courtroom battles continue.
Harness racing is woven into Australian folklore and some great horses have run at Harold Park. They all had killer names; Pure Steel, Paleface Adios and Hondo Grattan. I have memories of these names squawking from my grandfather’s trannie as Jonnie Tap got excited calling the miracle Mile.
We have been sneaking in for a quick lap for ages, you get two at best before the caretaker wanders out and gives us a gentle wave on. No aggro, they know we are just having fun. What we really wanted was a good session on the banked gravel without interruption , so we asked to rent it for the day for a photo shoot and called around for willing jockeys. It was bumpy and ungroomed after years of neglect and the developer had drilled core samples at 50m intervals for extra danger. We got some good laps in, some of the dirt virgins pop squirting around with smiles like 10 year olds and an real 10 year old (Tom) who races speedway who trickled out from the pits and proceeded to ride wide open for 7 laps sideways the whole way. This kid will be a star.
All that fun was raising biblical amounts of dust (remember the Sydney dust storm) and the track sits right next to residential streets, so it was only a matter of time before we go shut down. Ho hum, some fun laps were had. No one crashed (badly) and we were home in time for tea.
Hires photos from the day found here: flickr.com/photos/deuscustoms/sets/72157626338458152/
We made a book of the event as well: issuu.com/deus/docs/haroldpark2