Writing a book is a big undertaking and when it is a story that has never been told that took place in early 1900’s, there is a lot of work to do.

Mount Warren Park resident Murry Hubbard was inspired by images he saw at an RACQ touring exhibition of old transport that was doing the rounds of Queensland around 2008.

“There was a car racing down the Southport Beach and the caption was something like, Southport Speed Trials, 1916,” said Murry.

“I had lived on the Gold Coast for more than 20 years and had never heard of this. At the time I was the Motoring Editor of the Gold Coast Sun and with my interest aroused I decided to research and write a story on this speed trial for my motoring section in the Sun.

“This took me to the State Library of Queensland and the Southport Library and in due course I wrote a feature in the Sun.

“After I parted ways with the paper in late 2008, I decided there might be a bigger story in the first attempt at an Australian Land Speed Record and what I discovered was a much bigger story that was easily book size.”

The book is about an untold story of the Southport Speed Trials and the two cars and drivers who were racing on that day.

Car Wars Down Under
Car Wars Down Under

The year was 1916, smack in the middle of the Great War. Christmas Day and Boxing Day saw two cars vying for Australia’s first land speed record by racing along the hard sand at low tide on Australia’s premier holiday beach. Back then it was called Southport Beach and the names, Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise were yet to be used in the Sunshine State.

The cars people had come to see were a 1916 Studebaker Six and a 1912 Willys Overland. Both were fitted with light-weight racing bodies, but on looks the Studebaker Six was the drawcard.

The Studebaker was entered by Canada Cycle and Motor (CCM) which had fitted the car with a streamlined body that resembled the shape of a dolphin. The Willys too, owned by Fred Eager, of EG Eager & Son, had a racing body, but it was staid and far from aerodynamic compared to the Studebaker.

The event was organised by CCM for one reason only; it was desperate for the car to win a race, any race. They needed the publicity; Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday. This was a race about selling cars in Brisbane.

Studebaker v. Willys. CCM v. Eagers. Fred Z Eager v. Alec Fraser Jewell, driving the Studebaker. During 1916 the ACQ, now the RACQ organised hill-climbs at Mt Coot-tha (then called One Tree Hill) and Fred Eager, in the car he called Whitey, was unbeatable.

Car Wars Down Under
Car Wars Down Under

“In 2009 eBooks took off and book shops were closing.

“One publishing agent told me she doubted the book would even make coffee table status. I was not interested in a coffee table book and being old school wanted a hard copy publication.

“I put the project on hold for 11 years, reviving it in late 2020. I threw myself back into research and added several more chapters.

“In those 11 years a couple of other major steps forward were taken in this untold story. Whitey, which had been lying in state for years was totally restored by her owner, Graham Crittenden.

“At the same time another enthusiast, Gavin Mutton decided to reconstruct an authentic version of the Studebaker Six, in the guise that it broke the Sydney to Brisbane intercity record in January 1917.

The two magnificent cars, which are worthy enough to have their own story told in detail, are the heart of this untold story.

Car Wars Down Under
Car Wars Down Under

CAR WARS Down Under is not only a true story of an event in history that not many know about, but also an entertaining read of two men and their magnificent machines.

The early rivalry between two of Brisbane’s first car dealers and the lengths they went to in order to prove who was better.

The book also touches on how the Queensland motoring world grew and changed and what it meant for the state.

CAR WARS Down Under – The Untold Story of Australia’s first Land Speed Record, launch is being held at the Main Beach Pavilion, Gold Coast on November 5. Logan author Murray Hubbard and the vehicles in the book will be at the launch with CAR WARS Down Under in bookshops from Oct 21.

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