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Dowerin gets up to speed

20th May 2007, 6:00 WST

Former Seeker Keith Potger driving the Fremantle Motor Museum’s Model A Ford race car around a corner in the Theo’s Run trials at Dowerin with Peter Briggs in the MG in the background. Picture: Greg Ross

Motor racing has come back to Dowerin and there are plans to make sure it remains a feature of the district. Last weekend, the sound of revving engines reverberated around the town as vehicles of all shapes and sizes lined up for speed trials as part of Theo’s Run.
  
Theo is 86-year-old Theo Maisey, who raced on the Dowerin track in its heyday in the 1930s. He was at the event, along with fellow enthusiasts Neil Miller, 90, and John (L.J.) Metcalf, 86.
  
Dowerin Machinery Field Days chief executive Greg Ross said that despite close links with motor racing in WA, he had never heard of Dowerin’s history until he moved to the town.
  
“Before World War II, Dowerin was well on the way to being the major racetrack for WA,” he said.
  
“War brought a stop to the racing and when it started again afterwards, they were allowed to use a track at Caversham.”
  
He said that racing eventually had moved from Caversham to the Barbagallo Raceway at Wanneroo. There was a proposal now to build a racetrack in Dowerin and again hold the Dowerin Cup.
  
Theo’s Run, which will be held each May, attracted people from as far away as Bunbury and Dunsborough. Members of the Jaguar and the Riley car clubs and the Veteran and Vintage Sports Car Club joined in the weekend, which started with a run from Fremantle on the Saturday.
  
“We are now looking seriously at building a new track up here which can be used for road safety, car releases and by sporting car clubs,” Mr Ross said. “What is being screamed out for is a fun track, not one for V8 Supercars.”
  
He said the plan was to build a new track at the field-day grounds.
  
“We are going to need government money but we feel it has enormous potential because we are within two hours of Perth,” he said.
  
He said Dowerin’s focus was on machinery. Apart from the motor racing, there also was a proposal to make Dowerin a railways centre.
  
“We are working with the Rail Heritage WA to have a steam train up here permanently. One came here in the beginning of December and that was huge,” he said. “We had a concert on a rail car.
  
“We are working with the rail society and the Australian Railroad Group to base a steam train in Dowerin from May to October to take passengers for a ride to Goomalling and Wyalkatchem.”
  
He said there also was the possibility of basing the first two diesel rail cars in WA in Dowerin and running them all year.
  
The Dowerin Machinery Field Days, WA’s premier agricultural machinery show, will be expanded this year to take in mining machinery and equipment. A new 7.3ha site has been set up for mining exhibitors.

PAM BROWN