Arthur George Bluey Wilkinson

1938 Speedway World Champion


Red headed Arthur George ‘Bluey’ Wilkinson went within a whisker in 1936 of being Australia’s first motor sport world champion.

In that inaugural world speedway championship at Wembley in England, Bluey had a perfect night, five wins from five rides. But he didn’t have enough bonus points from previous rounds, so finished third.

Two years later, in front of 95,000 people at Wembley, Bluey was in more trouble. Racing THE NIGHT BEFORE THE FINAL, he broke his left collar bone. So he got a local soccer club doctor to put his arm and shoulder in plaster. The next night he won his first four rides and then finished a safe second in his fifth, to become Australia’s second motor sport world champion.

When only aged 17, in 1928, Bluey got hooked on speedway at Bathurst Showground and he was lent a bike by the 1936 world champion, Lionel van Praag.

Bluey rode for Australia in test matches against England and the US, scoring maximum points against England in each of five meetings in 1937 and 38 and missing by just one point doing the same the next season.

A month short of his 29th birthday, he and his wife Muriel were riding a motor bike in Bondi when a truck swerved to avoid a car. Despite surviving dozens of crashes when racing, Bluey died almost instantly.