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For 18 years it was an iconic Australian institution. This is the rise and fall of the Castrol Six Hour Production Race

The FJ Holden and the Skyline Drive-In were beyond the horizon when the dawn of the fabulous 1950s generated over 27,000 new motorcycle registrations across Australia. Then Hollywood gave us mumblin’ Marlon in The Wild One before Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller followed with their memorable ‘black denim trousers and motorcycle boots, and a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back’ lyrics. And despite Honda’s claim that ‘you meet the nicest people on a Honda’, the hoon on the Harley became the felonious face of motorcycling. By the end of the decade, new motorcycle registrations dropped to less than 10,000 a year.

For many years the influential Willoughby District Motor Cycle Club (WDMCC) had ignored the controversy over bikie gangs, concentrating on promoting scrambles at Moorebank and road racing at Mount Druitt. To promote the new Amaroo Park complex in collaboration with the Australian Racing Drivers Club, the WDMCC identified the 1.9km hotmix circuit would be an ideal venue for a signature road racing event such as the Hardie Ferodo 1000 at Mount Panorama. Castrol oils agreed and anted up $1000 for the naming rights.

Strictly for shiny new production bikes with no deviation from standard specifications, the concept revitalised the motorcycle industry; even the air in the tyres had to be ‘showroom’.

When the WDMCC announced the largest purse on offer in Australian motorcycle racing –$3000 plus contingency money – over 70 entries powered in. The inaugural ‘Castrol 1000’, held in October 1970, generated widespread interest, and stamped a positive spin on motorcycling while, in hindsight, simultaneously confirmed the demise of the British motorcycle industry.

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