From the Archives, 1928: Australian Grand Prix launches in Phillip Island

Ninety-five years ago, in March 1928, the first Australian Grand Prix motor car race was held on the Phillip Island road circuit, organised by the Victorian Light Car Club. At that time it was called the 100 Miles Road Race, but some years later it would become known as the first Australian Grand Prix.

First published in The Age on April 2, 1928



A car skids at 95 miles an Hour

Arthur Terdich supervises the unloading of his Bugatti car at Phillip Island.

A. Waite (Austin) Wins cup

Many thrilling incidents marked the 100-mile motor car race – the first to be held in Australia – which was run at Cowes, Phillip Island, on Saturday.

Mr. A. J. Terdich, driving a Bugatti, narrowly escaped being hurled to death when rounding Hell’s Corner. His car skidded alarmingly, but was saved from crashing into the deep ditch by some straw bales. He had been driving at about 95 miles an hour on the straight.

There were several “close shaves” when cars just grazed each other while travelling at top speed, but the day passed off without anyone being injured. The favorite, S. C. Cox, driving a Bugatti Straight Eight, was unable to compete owing to a piston having seized in the car. It was rumored that metal filings were found in the oil, but the truth of this could not be ascertained.

The race was run under the auspices of the Victorian Light Car Club, and very keen interest was taken in the event by several thousand spectators.

The absolute winner, that is, the car which made the fastest time, irrespective of class, was Mr. A. Waite’s Austin Supercharged Seven, which completed the sixteen laps of the 100 miles in 1 hour 46 minutes 40 seconds, averaging 56.3 miles per hour. Considering the very rough state of the road, this was a remarkable performance. This car was also the winner of its class (in which Austins secured second, third and fourth places), and in consequence Mr. Waite secured the cup, valued at 50 guineas, and first prize of the class of £20.

Sixteen cars took part in the race, and all were shod with Australian-made tyres. Only one car had to retire owing to a blow out.

Winners of the other three classes were: G. Dentry, in a Senechal; A. J. Terdich, in a Bugatti, and J. O. McCutcheon, in a Morris Cowley, each of whom secured a prize of £20.

The second fastest time for the whole distance was secured by J. O. McCutcheon in his Morris Cowley, which averaged 54.49 miles per hour. Several cars had to stop during the races owing to mechanical trouble.

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