The Saturday November 9 meeting at Heavy Trax Hire Central Motor Speedway celebrated the memory of Ron Spriggs, one of the most important people in the speedway club’s history. As with so many valued community assets, Central Motor Speedway is a stand-out example of what one man with a vision can achieve. It was just unfortunate that unseasonal weather poured water on the evening forcing an early cancellation.
In the late 1970’s, Invercargill panelbeater, speedway driver and fan, Ron Spriggs felt that as much as he enjoyed holidaying in Central Otago, the region lacked family entertainment, namely a speedway. His search for a suitable location took him to council-owned marginal land off Cromwell’s Sandflat Road that offered a natural amphitheatre embankment.
Eager for an attraction that would bring people to the newly created Lake Dunstan and to a basically relocated Cromwell, the Council supported Ron’s speedway proposal granting him a long term lease. Just to show how much he was a man ahead of his time, Ron’s plans were not only for a speedway but ultimately a hard track beside it, an animal park, go-karting and horse trekking.
With support from his partner Valerie and willing helpers, ‘Golden Central Speedway’, as Ron named it, was ready to host its first meeting over Christmas, 1980. Cars were backed up well into the Kawarau Gorge but unfortunately terrible weather meant a last minute postponement of that first meeting. Winds were so fierce, porta loos blew over – one with a man in it.
From the now demolished caretaker’s house he built beside the track, Ron ran the speedway for 11 years until terminal illness forced him from active involvement. He died in March, 1996 just days shy of his 54th birthday.
Central Motor Speedway Club committee member, Jeannine Cunningham: - “We race, we compete, we share, we work hard and most of all we enjoy the common bond of the speedway track a man with a vision built back in the late 70’s. Ron Spriggs, we thank you for creating Central Otago’s Fastest Family Show on Earth.