Red Dust Revival 2022

Thousands of people from around Australia and across the world gathered in outback Western Australia in 2019 to experience the thrill of pre-war cars and bikes roaring around the claypan circuit at Lake Perkolilli. It was an absolute blast for drivers, riders and spectators.


Dates have been announced for 2022 so you can start planning getting there and being part of the thrills and excitement of claypan racing. 

If you missed it, here is a small taste of the fun that was had last time. Don't miss the next one on the 19 - 25 September 2022. 

So You Want To Build a Perkolilli Car?

With the great number of participants approaching us we have set an upper limit on 100 cars for the Red Dust Revival 2022.  Please be aware that if we receive more than 100 entries then cars will be selected based on their period authenticity.  Entries which comply with the spirit of the event will be given preference. 


We’ve had at least 30 people people inspired by the Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival who are now in the process of building cars for the next event  — 19 to 25 September 2022!  It’s probably the right time to summarise what type of car is acceptable at the Perkolilli revival events.  Basically,  it has to be a “pre-war” car which means that components from cars built before the Second World War are acceptable.  Like the 2019 event, post-war engines, chassis, and bodies are not in the spirit of Perkolilli and will not qualify for entry. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule but there is no point in putting a modern overhead valve V8 in an old car and expecting it to be eligible.  


The Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival celebrates the golden years of racing at Lake Perkolilli from 1914 to 1939 and cars built in this era are acceptable for the 2022 event.  This provides an enormous range of possibilities without having to revert to modern, post-1939 engines and chassis and bodywork.  The cars suitable for Perkolilli have to look like the cars which people put together in those days. It was a very creative period so it opens up an enormous range of possibilities without having to make cars look like modern rat rods.  It is very pleasing to see members of the hot rod movement going back to the pre-war roots of hot rodding and building cars which were true to the period using discarded parts from their hot rod projects.  There might even be a replica of Ossie Cranston’s ’32 Ford V8 being put together. 


The Red Dust Revival is not for post-war hot rods such as T-buckets.  It was not common in Australia during the 1930s to put a Ford flathead V8 engine into a Ford Model A or Model T chassis.  This is more like post-war hot rod practice.  A great variety of performance parts were made to improve Model A engines and several firms continue to make these parts.  Check out: as an example.


Lake Perkolilli cars from the 1930s were not like post-war speedway cars which were built from pre-war parts but with more recent updates.   Stripped out 1930s Ford Coupes with mudguards removed, smaller wheels and big roll cages did not race at Perkolilli.  Once again, your car must look like cars which raced between 1914 and 1939.


We've had several people who are reviving 1930s  "barn find" sedans and wondering how they should prepare the car for the Red Dust Revival.  In the 1930s, these sedans were new cars and the owner would often drive the car to the track, race, and then drive home.  They did not take the front and rear mudguards off the cars so we would prefer that people kept cars like this, outwardly looking stock.  Modern wide wheels are not in the spirit of the event.  Some people have asked whether we would prefer their car to be kept rusted and ratty or even made to look old and rusty.  The answer is no.  This is not an event to see who can have the crappiest looking car.  Yes, buff the paint and be proud.  Repaint it if you like.  In the 1920s and 1930s, cars did not have a lot of drag stripes and wild logos.  There is no need to paint your car like it could have been at Claremont Speedway in the 1970s.



The book, Red Dust Racers, has hundreds of photographs of cars which raced at Lake Perkolilli during the golden era.  There are still copies available from This book is essential if you are building a car which you want to look the part at the Red Dust Revival. The photographic book, Red Dust Revival, has images of cars from the 2019 event.

It starts with the chassis and there are still enough chassis laying around Australia to ensure that Perkolilli cars can be built for many years in the future.  During the 1930s, racing cars were often built from chassis scrounged from old Chev Fours, Rugbys, Whippets or other American cars because they were so plentiful.  Of course, the ever reliable Ford Model A chassis was the basis for many home-built racing cars.  Other cars such as Ford Model Ts and Austin Sevens make great fun racers.  It is worth saying up front that we all frown upon people who buy restored cars and rip them apart to make racers.  Don’t do it! There is no need to do this when there is still a ready supply of parts to build cars from the remains of cars which will probably never be restored. Often the bodies of these cars have fallen apart a long time ago. It is bad karma to rip apart a restored car to make a racer, and of course, you can take it to Perko just as it is!  Several cars are being built from the donor cars of fully restored cars — once again, a great use for that car that would otherwise never see the light of day.  Just Cars magazine and website regularly lists unrestored rolling chassis which could be transformed into Perkolilli racers.

The Ford range of T, Model A and V8 models from 1909 to 1939 were all entered at Perko events during the period and several cars have been made from rolling chassis which remained after the steel bodies were removed to make hot rods.  Make a Perko racer from these old chassis is a great way to get a fun use from these parts. It was not common during the period, however, to have Ford Model As with later flathead V8 motors. This is more post-war hot rod practice.  Watch out for a 1928 Buick special at the next event which may be made from the rolling chassis of a car which was gutted for the sedan body which was used on a modern hearse.


The engine is the heart of the Perko car and as long as it is an engine built in the pre-war period or the same as a pre-war engine then it’s good to go.  It’s better if your car looks like its engine could have been used in a car of the period.  Things like alternators and SU carbs are OK but modern carbies just don’t look right. No GM blowers or fuel injection please.  Remember, it’s not about beating someone else’s time but re-creating the era and having fun. IT IS NOT ABOUT SPEED!  If you want to race and be the fastest, go to Wanneroo.

Wheels and tyres should be 16 inch and above and not modern rims. Radials are OK on cars from the late 1930s because they use 16 inch rims (such as Ford wire wheels) but don’t look right on early cars.

The body is where your creative imagination can run riot.  Cars which raced at Perkolilli had everything from just a cowl and two seats to beautifully made aluminium boat-tail bodies which wouldn’t look out of place at the Indy 500.  There were bodies made with wooden frames like a boat with fabric stretched over them.  Many cars were roadsters or tourers stripped down for the job.  The best way to choose a body is to look at lots of old motor racing photographs to get inspiration.  The first patent for a pop rivet was issued in 1939 so they aren’t really in keeping with the period.  If you want to keep the period look, then buy soft sold aluminium rivets and a rivet gun kit from the Eastwood company. Yes, also Phillips head screws, roofing bolts and tek screws weren’t the go in the 1920s and 1930s so if you keep to slot headed screws and bolts without “Zenith” on them then you can’t go wrong and you won’t get some nitpicker pointing them out to you!  Fibreglass bodies weren't around is those days and are out of place at Perko.

Once you get close to the Red Dust Revival it is worth talking to other competitors about their experiences at the clay pan.  Perko is the great red dyno!  It finds out all the niggling little problems your car may have had which doesn’t show up when you run around the block.  Just like everywhere else, with that red dust, 90% of carbs problems are electrical! While oil and water catch tanks aren't required, a water overflow tank is a good idea at Perko because it can get very hot.  Carburettors need two return springs for safety and the electrics need a cutout switch.  The tail shaft needs to have a hoop around it so you don’t have a nasty accident if it comes off.  There are a lot of different ideas for air filters. They are a necessity at Perko where the dust can be thick and gets everywhere, including into your engine. Either paper filters or oiled foam filters seem to be preferred.  Roll bars aren’t required.  If you need to know about something specific, ask first.  The rules are made to provide cars which are as safe as practical for a pre-war car, to provide a field of cars which looks right and to have cars which don’t have modern car speed and performance.  The scrutineers will knock back cars they think aren’t safe.  

If you think you need to run your car on ethanol then you are coming to the wrong event. No racing slicks please.


Hugh Fryer of Austin Seven fame has put together this summary of requirements. Remember it is broad and specific in some things. There are always exceptions to the rule:


Eligibility Summary 

   • All major components, i.e.  Engine, Gearbox, Diff, Chassis, Brakes, Wheels to be Pre 1939. Note components are dated from the year they were first made. For example the MG XPAG engine was fist made in 1939 so is eligible even though they were made through until the early 50s.
   • Body to look Pre 1939, i.e as it did in the day with standard radiator/grill, bonnet and scuttle with streamlined back. There are lots of period photos which show a variety of bodies.
   • Wheels, minimum dia 16 inches. Tyres, prefer cross plies.
   • Minor components - carburettors, ignition, electrical, instruments and general fittings - best if they are period for the car. If using an alternator try and hide it. Pop rivets and Philips head screws are to be discouraged in favour of solid rivets and slotted screws.

Safety Summary to be used as a guide

   • Throttle return springs, one for each carb plus one for mechanism.
   • Towing eyes front and rear, marked.
   • Battery secure with isolator and blue triangle showing location.
   • Fuel tank vented to atmosphere.
   • General mechanical, steering free play, kingpins, brake pedal, wheels tyres, oil leaks, exhaust etc all to be in good condition.
   • Drive shaft if exposed needs a safety hoop. 
   • Body, seat, windscreen, firewall etc all to be in good condition. If got headlights, glass to be covered or taped over. No hubcaps allowed.
   • Fire extinguisher, current date and fixed securely.
   • For tuning days and other track events water and oil catch tanks are required 

All of the above is relatively straight forward, it is far better to be aware of what required before starting to build a car, rather than altering to suit, if possible. 

At the last event some competitors bent the eligibility requirements and we will be stricter in future events. 

We aren’t into putting modern or tasteless period advertising on cars.  It looks wrong and they never did it.  Once again, it’s getting back to the look of the era. No advertising for your or someone else's business is allowed.

If you were at the last event you will have seen some modern hot rods and some fully-restored original cars running around the clay pan at the end of each day.  It was great fun, but this may not happen in 2022. We have extended the event and if we have a lot more cars and bikes then we’ll have to give the track a rest late in the day.

Remember, for the Red Dust Revival itself it is all about re-creating the era and having fun. It is not about speed.  Nobody cares who is the fastest, but we love to see the cars which look as if they just came off Perko 80 or 90 years ago.  That's why we are not into the 50s hot rod or speedway look. It make our event unique.


See you at Perkolilli in 2022!

And one last thing - Mick Rust of the Kalgoorlie Motor Works will be back in the pits to help you out with your mechanical gremlins.

Any questions about building cars which fit into the spirit of the Red Dust Revival please email Graeme at gacocks (at)

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