Jerry’s Downfall Scramble Races (1950s) by Paul Jackson
Jimboomba X Stadium’s Triple Crown Supercross event is being held at Hills International College on 14 March but Park Ridge has its own piece of dirt bike history.
The exciting Supercross events we get to see in stadiums today had their beginnings in the 1970s when promoters wanted to pack the action of a motocross race – usually raced on modified natural terrain across acres of land – into the spectator rich environment of a stadium. Motocross had been developed in the 1960s but its birthplace was the Scrambling races of the 1950s.
Scrambling had been around since the 1920s as motorcycle enthusiasts started taking their road bikes off-road, but the 1950s developed the past time into an organized sport attracting riders and spectators alike.
Throughout the 1950s, the Park Ridge/Browns Plains Progress Association hosted Motorcycle Scrambling Races on the flats of the Smith property on the corner of what is now Stoney Camp Rd and Mt Lindesay Hwy. The races were conducted up to three times a year by Kedron Motor Cycle Club – one of the largest motorcycle clubs in Australia at the time – and attracted 1000-2000 spectators from all over South-East Queensland.
The Park Ridge/Browns Plains Progress Association was building the Progress Hall (located beside the primary school at Park Ridge) at the time and raised funds through catering for the races. The Scrambling Races were a raging success both as a competition and as fundraisers. So much so that they even hosted a Queensland Title there in the early 60s.
Cars would line the old track on the Smith property (Which was about where Sycamore Road is now) and crowds would gather at vantage points around the track where riders were expected to come unstuck. “There were always plenty of thrills and spills”, Peter Smith said. “I was only about 10 years old at the time. So it was all pretty exciting.”
The natural terrain track wove it’s way around the flats at the front of the Smith property (now known as Sycamore Reserve) and included two creek crossings which invariably became a quagmire throughout the day. The track was known in the motorcycle community as the Jerry’s Downfall Scramble Track. Race days could attract 50-100 competitive riders, but by the end of the day, there would regularly be only 20-30 bikes still able to compete.
Motorbike enthusiast, Robert Stevenson, watched the races as a young boy, “One of the things that made Jerrys Downfall Scramble Track stand out was, of course, the creek crossings. I remember when a rider would get stuck in the mud, an official would tie a rope around himself, run down the hill into the water, hold onto the handlebars of the bike and then three or four men would pull the rope with the official, the bike and the fallen rider up onto dry land. This was a common practice.” he said.
“Another fond memory was that it had a large jump on the start/ finish straight and the riders would come across the line sometimes in mid-air. Nowadays it’s quite common but in those days it was rare to see.”
The track was closed in the early 1960s, as Mr. Stevenson reminisces, “It was sad when the Jerry’s Downfall track closed and they moved across to a track at Waterford, as they didn’t have the creek crossings and I’ve never seen a track like Jerrys Downfalls again.”