Trophies, 16, for autombile racing, won by EA 'Wilbur' Watson in his EAW Special handbuilt racing car (B2509), silver plate, [Australia], 1957-1962 (OF).
These 16 trophies were won by Ernest (Wilbur) Arthur Watson from 1957 to 1962 for hill climbs and sprint racing in NSW in his racing car. Watson's vehicle is a light, compact, one-off, handbuilt, Australian racing car with a motorcycle engine. It is known as an EAW Special and was designed and built by Ernest Arthur Watson. Its name is derived from Watson's initials. Construction was undertaken in small, rented garages in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney between 1949 and 1957. He was determined to build his own 500cc racing car but had little money to spend on it so sourced the pieces from wreckers' yards and war surplus suppliers. The racing car was constructed from a variety of adapted components from an assortment of vehicles including automobiles, motorcycles, aircraft, bicycles and even a soup tin. In 1958 the motoring journalist Pedr Davis referred to Wilbur's EAW Special as "one of the most attractively built and ingeniously thought out vehicles competing in Australia". Despite its eclectic construction the EAW Special went on to win numerous trophies for hill climbs at Silverdale, NSW, and other sprint events throughout the late 1950s and early 60s which were presented to the Museum by Wilbur Watson with the car in 1983.
The trophies relating to the EAW Special are an excellent addition to the history and use of the racing car which in itself typifies the immediate post-War racing cars designed and made in Australia at a time when almost anyone mechanically minded with an ordinary set of tools could produce and race a home-made racing car. In the 1950s, when new cars were too expensive and used cars too slow and unreliable, building homemade road and racing cars was a popular pastime in Australia. The availability of fibreglass bodies made these cars look professional. Motor racing circuits opened at Warwick Farm racecourse in Sydney in 1960 and at Sandown Park racecourse near Melbourne in 1962 providing road racing type facilities where spectators could see the whole circuit and public roads did not need to be closed.
Davis, Pedr, 'Wilbur's Wonder Wagon' in "Sports Car World", January 1958, pp. 12-15, 61
Davis, Pedr, 'They Build 'Em at Home Â?' in "Man", June, 1958.
Simpson, Margaret, "On the Move; a history of transport in Australia", Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 2005.
Curator, Science & Industry
Wilbur Watson finished building his EAW Special in 1957 and the car won its class the first time it was taken out in July that year at a time of 17.31 seconds in the under 750 cc NSW Sprint Championships for racing cars run by the Australian Racing Drivers Club (ARDC). Wilbur went on to a number of events over the next 5 years the trophies for which presented to the Museum. These include :
First place in 3 lap under 1100 cc Handicap, SCCA Race Meeting, 20 July 1958
Club Records Day, under 750 cc racing cars, 17.31 seconds, ARDC, 28 July 1958
Race Day Winner, July 1958
Point Score Winner, Records Day, August 1958
Under 850 cc Racing Car Record, 1958-9
Champion Racing Driver, SCCA, 1958-9
Winner under 750 cc racing cars, ARDC Hill Climb at Foleys Hill, Mona Vale, NSW, 15 February 1959
Record Holder 1959-1960, in under 850 cc racing cars, SCCA
Under 750 cc Racing Car Record, 43.38 seconds, Silverdale Hill Climb, VSCCA, 8 May 1960.
Standing Â¼ mile Record Holder, under 850 cc, 16.96 seconds, SCCA, 1961-1962
The car was featured in "Sports Car World" in January 1958 and "Man" magazine in June 1958.
During the early 1960s Wilbur was involved in the construction and early operation of Oran Park Raceway, 45 km SE of Sydney, which opened in February 1962. When night racing was introduced at the raceway Wilbur was responsible for the design, building and installation of the lighting. For his efforts he was made a life member of the NSW Road Racing Club. Unfortunately, Wilbur soon found he had little time to either work on his car or to race it after 1962. Gradually racing moved away from the owner/driver enthusiasts and became more professional with increased sponsorship. Drivers began to take more risks to retain their sponsorship deals while more expensive specialist tyres and other equipment added considerably to racing costs. These changes encouraged Wilbur to leave the racing scene in the 1960s.
Wilbur Watson presented his EAW Special racing car to the Museum in 1983 together with the original single-cylinder engine, trophies, and photographs.
Interview with Wilbur Watson, 1983