Brian Linigen’s sprint car heaven backyard

Sprint car heaven is a place much closer than you think!

Photographers: Peter Bateman

Old speedway racers don’t die – they go to Brian Linigen’s backyard

This article on Brian’s sprint car backyard was originally published in the August 2008 issue of Street Machine

WADE Aunger, the track commentator at Parramatta City Raceway, sums up Brian Linigen’s shed pretty well: “When you look around, it might just seem like a bunch of old cars to people who’re not in the game, but this is Disneyland for Sprint Car fans.”

For those fans, the Linigen name is synonymous with speedway racing, so it’s no surprise that Brian has a nice collection at home.

“Dad used to race sidecars at Sydney Showground,” Brian says. “He was known as Johnny Linigen. He raced in the 50s and 60s.”

Brian raced Super Modifieds and Sprint Cars for a number of years with great success. These days Brian’s daughter Kelly is competitive at the top level in Sprint Cars, having started racing when she was just 17.

With a family pedigree like that, it’s only right that Brian’s backyard in western Sydney reflects the passion. The collection started in the early 70s, with the first Super Modified he campaigned. Not surprisingly, that’s also his favourite car. The Modified is powered by a 186 Holden engine, which sports McGee injection and a McGee cam.

There’s a great variety of vehicles too; the collection includes everything from modern Sprint Cars, right through to vintage Midgets. But the cool racers don’t end with the dirt trackers — there’s also some vintage drag tin in there, including a red six-powered Fiat Topolino Funny Car, a Rambler V8-powered drag car, and ‘The Thing’, an all-wheel drive drag machine powered by twin grey motors!

So how does a speedway guy end up with such cool drag cars? “I got a call to come and pick up some old speedway cars. I got out there and they weren’t speedway cars but I had to bring them home.”

A number of guys have offered to give them new homes but Brian’s not selling. He’s keen to display the drag cars at the Nostalgia Drags in Sydney but most weekends he’s out on the road helping Kelly with her car at the races, so it just hasn’t happened yet.

Of course, having a cool collection of racers is one thing; you’ve got to have somewhere neat to display and store them too. The Linigen backyard is basically a miniature township — complete with a hotel for when the whole family stays! It’s been featured on Burke’s Backyard and even featured in music video clips.

In addition to the cars and buildings, there’s also a heap of cool automotive items like hand-built pedal cars, vintage petrol pumps, and speed equipment from back in the day. There’s even an old railway carriage, a Cobb & Co stagecoach, and a door from Bathurst gaol!

Brian holds a couple of open days each year, to share his collection with speedway fans. “We usually run one in September, and one in January to coincide with the World of Outlaws Sprintcar Series,” he says.

Yep, his collection is so good the visiting Yanks make the trip to check it out. These open days attract up to 1500 visitors, and can have 70 speedway cars on display. Any proceeds from the day are presented to charities.

Photographers: Peter Bateman