Mike Nedelko was among four Newcastle blokes to compete in Supercars-style racing in the early 1960s

As the Supercars event moves into full swing, let’s not forget Newcastle’s pioneers of the sport.

Mike Nedelko, now aged 80, was one of four Newcastle blokes who competed in the Armstrong 500 in the early 1960s.

The Armstrong 500 was originally held at Phillip Island for three years, but was moved to Bathurst in 1963.

It became the legendary Bathurst race we know today.

Mike and co-driver Jack Gates came seventh overall and second in their class in the 1963 Armstrong 500 – the first time the event was held in Bathurst.

“Newcastle’s Delore Motors, our sponsor, put a big splash in the papers that Newcastle boys did well,” Mike said.

Bob Jane and Harry Firth won the race that year in a Ford Cortina, followed by drivers in an EH Holden.

Doug and Graham Kelley, from Newcastle, also competed in the event.

“The four of us were the first to represent Newcastle in that type of car racing,” Mike said.

Mike said the Armstrong 500 was a big deal.

“The whole world was watching what Australia was doing with these races.

“It caused a sensation. It was the biggest sedan racing in Australia.”

Mike said the Mini Cooper reached 100 miles an hour [161km/h] down the straight.

“It was exhilarating,” he said.

“Jack and I were co-drivers. We drove alternatively every two hours. In those days, that was the regulation.”

Mike and Jack raced in a Mini Cooper.

“There were 14 Mini Coopers in the [1963] race. They had a good chance of winning the class,” he said.

“Would you believe that most of them broke down. There was a fault in the gearbox.

“Three of them, one was ours, never broke down.”

Mike was a racing car driver from 1955 to 1972. In those years, he was also a mechanic in Newcastle – before moving to Foster.

Motor racing in Australia changed dramatically from those early years of the Armstrong 500.

“It converted into big business and became Supercars. The sponsors took over,” he said.

“The race was originally the Armstrong 500. Later it became the Hardie-Ferodo 500 and Bathurst 1000.”

Mike said motorsport racing was his passion.

“All my life, I was racing fast cars,” he said.

“Once it’s in your blood, you never get rid of it.

“We just loved the sport.”

Telemarketing Troubles

Topics has been writing about telemarketers harassing people by ringing them at home.

Newcastle’s Denise Pollock has found a solution to this problem.

“When we had the NBN connected, the Telstra technician recommended a phone called the Guardian. It cost about $80,” Denise said.

When the phone rings, you answer and hear the caller’s name announced. You can then choose to block, accept or send the caller to the answering machine.

“You can put in numbers you wish to receive calls from, like family and friends.”

Denise has not had a single telemarketing call since she installed the phone more than a year ago.

“On the call list, you can see a lot of hang ups each day – even though we were also on the federal government’s Do Not Call Register,” she said.  

She said it was the “best investment ever”.

Charlie the Chicken

Charlie the Chicken in recovery at Charlestown Toyota after eye surgery.

Charlie the Chicken in recovery at Charlestown Toyota after eye surgery.

Topics reported last week about the disappearance of Charlestown Toyota’s mascot Charlie the Chicken.

Loads of people were relieved to hear that Charlie was safe and well. He was having a holiday and a spruce up and was expected to return to duty by Christmas.

Reader Malcolm Watson had this to say about the matter: “It was suggested that maybe Charlie the Chook had crossed the road.

“This turned out not to be the case. Nevertheless, chooks dream of the day when they can cross the road without their motives being questioned.”

  • topics@theherald.com.au