Norman ‘Wizard’ Smith

National distance speed record breaker


In the early days of Australian motoring, Norman Leslie Smith came to be known as Wizard because of the dazzling array of promotional stunts he performed as a car salesman, often dressed in formal clothing including a top hat.

He quickly added motor racing, trials and record breaking to those activities setting a swag of intercity records between most Australian capitals. Because of the 1935 ban on public road record breaking, some of those records still stand!

Soon after the Maroubra Speedway opened in 1926, Wizard was there chasing the Australian 24 hour record which he beat with an hour to spare.

But his great goal was the world land speed record, something that sadly for Wizard, proved too hard.

With fellow driver and engineer Don Harkness they combined a Rolls-Royce aero engine with a Cadillac chassis setting an Australasian record of 206km/h on Gerringong Beach in 1929. A month later in New Zealand he did 238km/h.

In 1932, the Wizard achieved 264km/h, a long way off Sir Malcolm Campbell’s then world record of 408.73km/h.

But the Wizard did much to advance the cause of early motor sport.